The Missouri River has a temperamental spirit. It is a source of life — supplying water for agriculture and industry; providing a venue for pastimes such as fishing, swimming and boat racing; and serving as inspiration for countless poems, songs and folktales. It has given and given and given, almost entirely to its own detriment. But it’s also a force to be respected, if not feared. Flooding has regularly wrecked the surrounding land and homes, and the river’s current can sweep human lives and possessions away in an instant. The Missouri River acts as a constant reminder of nature’s power over humankind.
The following stories illustrate the dueling personalities of the Missouri River. The river promotes American progress and prosperity. That same development, however, damages the river and its creatures. And at any time it wishes, the river can choose to protest its pain. Its muddy waters have long decided our fate, and their constant flow is forever worthy of nothing less than our reverence.
Scroll through the map and click on the links to read more about each story, or browse the collection below.
Stories from the Missouri River
Tammy and Dennis Watters dive deep to find the secrets of the Missouri River
Human activity has endangered numerous species that call the Missouri River home