Historic Mississippi River Drought Exposes Shipwreck

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Water levels along the Mississippi River are plummeting due to drought conditions. And, experts say, these historically low levels are revealing some wild things including a shipwreck.

The reports note that close to 60% of the Mississippi River area is experiencing at least a moderate drought. A condition that is affecting many people and businesses as the historically low water levels slow barges carrying goods and put drinking water at risk.

A Baton Rouge Resident Stumbles On An Impressive Find

According to a report by CNN affiliate, WBRZ, one Louisiana resident discovered an impressive artifact while searching areas of the massive waterway that was underwater for years. Patrick Ford notes that he has long been hunting along the Mississippi for lost artifacts. However, this latest one is probably his biggest yet as he’s stumbled upon a 19th-century ship.

“This past Sunday I was out here looking,” Ford relates to WBRZ.

“And realized the rest of the shore had washed away,” the Baton Rouge man recalls.

“And there was an entire ship there,” Ford shares.

he shared. “I immediately texted friends and was like, ‘Holy moly, I think I found a ship, a sunken ship!’”

It turns out, that this ship had been discovered by archeologists specializing in the Mississippi river 30 years prior. However, the boat had remained submerged in water until now.

News quickly reached Chip McGimsey, a Mississippi state archaeologist. And he shared that the wreckage was actually discovered 30 years ago. But it was too submerged to properly study.

Scientists Are Seeing Water Levels Than They Have Been Over The Last Decade

According to NASA reports, some parts along the Mississippi river are seeing falling water levels lower than they have seen over the course of the last decade. And, with the river being a major area for grain exports, these droughts mean that the flow of goods is reduced by at least 45%. Images are showing that hundreds of vessels such as the Mississippi’s barges and towboats sit in wait. These waits are due to lowered water levels and dredging work that has resulted from the conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes that these droughts along the Mississippi river have threatened water wells across the country including areas in Iowa, and Nebraska. Some Mississippi communities have had to move to alternative drinking water sources.

While many attribute these changes to the river as being the result of climate change, one NOAA meteorologist, Brad Pugh notes that this drought is likely driven by “short-term weather patterns.”