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The Missouri River: Then & Now

Presentation by historian Michael Dickey

Most people do not realize that the Missouri River does not look and behave as it did in the 19th century. This program will contrast the historical conditions of the Missouri River as observed by Lewis and Clark in 1804 with the conditions of the river today. Dickey will discuss the changes made to the river during the 20th century, how those changes affected fish and wildlife and will describe efforts to restore some of the river habitat today.

Missouri River Snags - Karl Bodmer

Swiss painter Karl Bodmer captured this painting on a steamboat trip to the Upper Missouri River in 1833. The painting shows the treacherous snag filled shallows of the unchannelized Missouri River.

Time and Place

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by historian and Arrow Rock State Historic Site Administrator Michael Dickey

Tuesday, June 12, 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

The Missouri River we enjoy today is a completely different character than the river that Native tribes lived with and Lewis and Clark’s crew poled up against. The historic river was on average 3 times wider, several hundred miles longer, carried 5 times more sediment and could never decide one day to the next just where it wanted to be. Its flood pulses reflected the seasons as they played out across the river’s massive watershed.

The challenges that steamboats encountered on this wild river in the 1800’s led to a push in the mid-1900’s to tame, deepen, channelize and straighten the Missouri River for navigation and to stabilize its banks for agriculture. This highly successful river engineering project has been followed by an effort to restore a few pieces of habitat lost during the channelization.

Historian Mike Dickey, one of the Big Muddy Speaker Series most popular repeat presenters, will share some of the ancestral spirit of the Missouri River to help us understand why we have made some of our management decisions in the past and to better understand some of the nature of the Big Muddy that we’ve lost.


  • 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.