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The Mighty Mississippi: A Long View on Life in the Middle Mississippi River Watershed

Presentation by David Lobbig, Curator of Environmental Life at the Missouri History Society

Come get a peek of how the Missouri History Museum will exhibit our intriguing history with one of the world’s greatest watersheds in the upcoming exhibit, The Mighty Mississippi.

St. Louis, from the Mississippi River - View of the levee from the Ead's Bridge. Wood engraving after Charles Graham, 1888. From Harper's Weekly, 9 May 1888, Supplement, p. 422. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. River 0376. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

Time and Place

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by David Lobbig, Curator of Environmental Life at the Missouri Historical MuseumTuesday, December 11, 2018

The Bistro Restaurant is now closed on Tuesday, but the bar will be open. You ARE welcome to come early, bring some food and gather with friends before the presentation. Speaker Series attendees are welcome after 5 p.m. 

Hosted by Missouri River Relief

This preview presentation on the upcoming Missouri History Museum exhibit, The Mighty Mississippi, helps put in context where we are headed by looking at the deep history of where civilization has been in the Middle Mississippi River Valley. Many achievements, as well as social and environmental costs, are highlighted in this update on three years of research and preparation for this major 2019-2021 show.

Our individual lives are too short to get a big picture of the change that has occurred at the confluence of the Middle Mississippi’s major rivers, but looking at chapters in the epic story of human habitation here provides a striking perspective. From the Ohio up to the Missouri, beyond to the Illinois and with many smaller tributaries in between, the channel described as the Mississippi has enabled people to survive and prosper. And yet we’ve changed the watershed just as it has changed us.

Starting about a thousand years ago, the Mississippian period culture rose and then fell with the fortunes of the river environment and its exploited treasures. Afterwards, the European cultures conquered and colonized, extracting and reshaping the watershed and the people who preceded them with a zeal driven by fashion and empire. But the Industrial Age most dramatically transformed this world, altering river flow and habitat as the human population exploded, when exploitation of the river world mirrored in some ways how people exploited one another.

Now, we live in a successor era which must face questions about the survival of all life as we know it, and we can recognize our survival, success, and enjoyment of life is as dependent on the river system and its biodiversity as they are on us. Our future depends on how we manage it and our own behavior.

Come get a peek of how the Missouri History Museum will exhibit our intriguing history with one of the world’s greatest watersheds in the upcoming exhibit, The Mighty Mississippi.

David’s expertise is in regional environmental history and natural resource use and policies, as well as in collections care and exhibitions. As Curator of Environmental Life at the Missouri History Museum, he acquires, interprets, and cares for the Missouri Historical Society’s collections as they pertain to the regional natural environment and their relation to agriculture, energy use, transportation, and resource exploitation and stewardship, and is keeper of the North American Indian collections. The Curator of Environment Life is responsible for furthering the institutional mission of public engagement with regional history through research, writing, curating exhibitions, and collecting artifacts related to these areas.

Check out this C-SPAN film of David talking about the Eads Bridge. 


  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO
  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in upstairs in the restaurant. The restaurant is no longer open on Tuesdays but the bar is! You are welcome to bring your own food or snacks.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

is hosted by these wonderful partners.

Click here for a list of upcoming presentations»

Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.

The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.