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Quinta Scott

Fine Art Photographs

Mississippi Flyway
Big Sunflower River
Moore Bayou
Reelfoot Basin-Cypress Point
Beaverdam Lake

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What's a wetland? When I decided to do a book on Mississippi River wetlands, I hadn't a clue. Then I learned that the Lower Mississippi, the White River, and the Arkansas all ranged from valley wall to valley wall, a distance of seventy miles in the Lower Valley. When the rivers abandoned one course for another, the old channel filled with sediment and vegetation and became a wetland. The book's working title was Mississippi Flyway, which extends headwaters to the Gulf. Ducks and other birds rest and feed in its wetlands on their migrations.

The Big Sunflower, the Yazoo, and the Coldwater Rivers have carried the Mississippi in the Yazoo Basin in Mississippi over the last 10,000 years. All flow to the Yazoo, which carries them to the big river.

Moore Bayou carried the Arkansas River through the Arkansas Basin and to the Mississippi.

The New Madrid Earthquake of 1812 thrust up what became the bed of Reelfoot Lake. When it rebounded it dropped lower than its pre-quake level. The Reelfoot River poured into the depression and created Reelfoot Lake.

As the modern meandering Mississippi flows downstream, it shaves sediment from its inside bend and deposits it on an outside bend, which develops into a point bar. When the neck of the point bar, two inside bends, becomes too narrow, a flooded Mississippi will erode it away and created an oxbow lake, which develops into a wetland as the ends of the oxbow fill with sediment: Beaverdam Lake.

In 1835 the Mississippi cut a new channel across a point bar and formed Beaverdam Lake in Mississippi. The ends of the lake filled with sediment, cypress took root, and Beaverdam Lake turned into a duck hunters paradise.

I love Beaverdam Lake. Maybe because it's first oxbow I photographed. With USGS Maps the size of bathtowels on the passenger seat, I followed the road up over a levee and bingo: Beaverdam Lake. Then, I realized that the Mississippi project would work.

I go to the Lower Mississippi Valley in the fall because it is too hot to work in the summer with the exception of the great cool down during the second week in August. Pretty, too.