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Harvesting the riverbed – The Missouri River sand & gravel industry

NOTE – this month’s presentation will be the second MONDAY (not Tuesday as usual)

Presentation by David Shorr, Missouri River Dredging Group

One of the biggest industries on the Missouri River is harvesting the bottom of the river itself. Join Missouri River expert David Shorr in an exploration of how sand and gravel dredging works on the Missouri River and how it is impacted by Missouri River management.

Sand Dredge

A sand dredge, a sand barge and tending towboat work the river in downtown Kansas City. photo copyright Don Wilkison, - Warrior Ant Press.

Time and Place

Monday, May 13, 2019
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by David Shorr, Missouri River Dredgers Group

NOTE – This month’s presentation will be the second MONDAY (not Tuesday as usual)

Monday, May 13, 2019

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

Most folks assume that the Missouri River is muddier than it was historically. Because of channelization and upstream dams, it actually moves 1/5 of the sediment than it did 100 years ago. So it’s kind of like the “Big Not So Muddy”.

Mixed in with that legendary mud is a LOT of sand. Before it was channelized, sandbars were one of the dominant features of the river. The Omaha tribe’s name for the Missouri River, “Smoky Waters”, probably comes from the visual signature of this river that wandered through the great plains – clouds of blowing sand on windy days.

That sand is one of the most important commodities that the Missouri River provides. Most of the barges that people see moving on the Missouri River are actually local barges, moving barges to and from dredges harvesting sand from the bottom of the Missouri River. Most people assume that these dredges are keeping the channel clear in the river for barges. In reality, the engineering of the river channel does that on its own. The dredges are usually working to the side of the actual channel.

It is estimated that 80% of the concrete in Missouri uses sand from the Missouri River.

David Shorr is a Missouri River expert. He is a former Director of the Mo. Dept. of Natural Resources, is a founding member of the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee and is a lawyer for Lathrop & Gage.


  • 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.

Resources & Links

Dig Deeper for more info on this topic –

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.