VICKSBURG LEVEE AND STEAMBOATS Vicksburg was a busy port in the mid-1800s when the use of steamboats as transportation was at its highest. It was also during that timeframe that levee construction along the Mississippi River began. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has had a permanent office in Vicksburg since 1884, has been responsible for helping guide and maintain the Mississippi River. STEAMBOAT WITH COTTON The Mississippi River is the third longest river system in the world. The river and its tributaries have long been used as a transportation system. Steamboats not only carried lum- ber, freight, and passengers, but also hauled cotton from the fields to marketplaces around the United States. Steam- boats continued on the Mississippi River until barges and tugboats began taking their place in moving Mississippi pre- cious resources around. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, CIVIL WAR COLLECTION Lower River counties. The idea for such a program originated with F. A. Anderson, a lumberman from Gloster in Amite County. Anderson was born in Iowa and later moved to Gloster, where he operated a lumber mill. Looking at the twin curses of unemployment and deforestation, he came up with a plan to deal with them both. He outlined his plan in a 1931 letter to then governor of New York Franklin Roosevelt. He suggested that 40,000 unemployed young men be hired at the rate of $1 a day to plant trees on deforested land to be purchased by the government. They would work as part of a new department of the U.S. Army. Anderson was the first but far from the last to suggest such a program to Roosevelt. As we have seen, when Roosevelt became president of the United States of America in 1933, he put all of these suggestions into action in the form of the CCC. Between 1933 and 1942, there were ten CCC camps in the Lower River counties, five of them in the vicinity of Vicksburg. The others were near Crosby, Meadville, Knoxville, and Bude. The hilly topography of most of Warren County, including Vicksburg, kept the local CCC camps very busy with erosion control. One of the biggest challenges in that regard was Vicksburg National Military Park. The park was established on February 21, 1899, by an act of Congress. Following the line of the Confederate fortifications and the Union siege works, it formed a belt of land surrounding the city of Vicksburg. The park was organized and developed by a commission consisting of three men, Stephen Dill Lee, William T. Rigby, and John S. Kountz. All of them were veterans of the siege of Vicksburg. Together they acquired the necessary land and built roads to make it easier for visitors to see the park. They placed historical markers interpreting the battle and persuaded the states whose soldiers had fought at Vicksburg to build monuments to them. By the 1930s the park was threatened by widespread erosion. The danger was great enough that between 1933 and 1934, four CCC camps were established in the Vicksburg area to deal with the problem. Work began to stabilize the rugged landscape of the park. CCC volunteers planted trees, flowers, and shrubs for beautification as well as erosion control. Their work was appreciated by the people of Vicksburg. At a celebration of the fourth anniversary of the founding of the CCC, Vicksburg Mayor J.C. Hamilton summarized what the organization had done for his town. “Trenches, forts, and other historical remains which had stood for years exactly as the veterans of the Blue and Gray had left them were being scarred and destroyed by erosions which were prevalent in every section of the park…A total of four CCC companies were assigned to the park. The work of erosion prevention, restoration, and THE LOWER RIVER 123