How Wide Is The Mississippi River At The Morganza Narrows

Tectonic History and Geography

The Mississippi River’s Morganza Narrows can be found directly in the heart of the state of Louisiana. This particular location is a very narrow cross section of the river that borders on being a tie between the western and eastern sides of the borders between the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The history of the Morganza Narrows began with the tectonic splitting of the Appalachian Mountains roughly 250 million years ago. The split resulted in shifting landmasses that became the bedrock upon which the Mississippi River formed. This splitting created the Morganza Narrows, a natural passageway or bottleneck in the geographic landscape.

Economic Impact

Located downstream of Baton Rouge, the Morganza Narrows is home to multiple industries, ranging from sand and gravel mining to oil refining. Founded in 1842, the city of Morganza has built up around the narrows and established itself as a transportation hub. Companies such as the St. Tammany Oil Refinery and the Morganza-Mt. Airy Ferry Company both make their homes in the city.

In addition, the Morganza Narrows is one of the most commercially viable parts of the Mississippi River due to its relative narrowness. The proximity of the banks allows for substantial cargo loads to traverse its waters, and the port sees a nonstop influx of chemical and general cargo vessels coming and going.

River Depth and Flow Rate

The Morganza Narrows has a maximum width of around ¼ of a mile, with the actual average range of the width coming in between 320 to 450 feet. It is important to note that, while the narrows is indeed a narrow portion of the Mississippi River, its depth of 193 feet remains consistent even in high-water periods. This depth is the same as it is in other parts of the river during lower water periods.

The flow rate of the Mississippi River is also consistent through the Morganza Narrows. Fluctuations happen slowly and over a period of time rather than in short-term spikes due to the way the land has evolved over the past 250 million years. This slow fluctuation is beneficial to both marine life and commercial vessels traversing the waters, as it keeps debris and sediment from building up.

Environmental Protection Programs

Environmental protection programs are an integral part of the Morganza Narrows story. The Corps of Engineers runs an active program aimed at keeping the river clean and safe for everyone. This program has helped protect the vital fish and plant species that the environment supports and has also prevented erosion of the banks.

The Morganza Narrows also has an active fish stocking program. This program is aimed at protecting the local fish population and increases the variety of species in the river. In addition, this program helps to maintain the integrity of the local ecosystems, as it keeps the fish populations balanced.


All in all, the Morganza Narrows is an integral part of the Mississippi River. With its unique geography and history, this point on the river is essential to maintaining economic progress and environmental health of the region. From its narrow width, to its consistent depth, to its extensive environmental protection programs, the Morganza Narrows is an invaluable asset to the region and should be preserved for future generations.

Economic Trends

The river trade at the Morganza Narrows has been historically dominated by two different types of transport vehicles. The first of these is the towboat, which has long been the choice of shippers due to its higher maneuverability and cost efficiency. The second type of vessel is the river barge, which is fast becoming the preferred form of transport due to its higher efficiency and greater carrying capacity.

The Morganza Narrows and its port of call have recently seen an increase in shipping traffic due to heightened agricultural production in the area. The agricultural industry has seen a steady increase in loads being transported through the Morganza Narrows and is expected to continue to grow over the next few years.

In addition, the Morganza Narrows is also a major gateway for lumber and other raw materials from the south. Over the last few years, the lumber industry has seen a steady growth driven by increased demand from the housing sector. This demand has led to an increase in shipping traffic coming in and out of the Morganza Narrows, and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Navigational Challenges

Navigating the Morganza Narrows is no easy feat. The narrow passage requires vessel captains to be highly skilled in the area of river navigation and vessel maneuvering. Vessels must also contend with the constantly changing water depths which can lead to unexpected hazards. For example, the river bed is constantly shifting due to the erosive power of the water, making it difficult to accurately predict how deep the river is at any given time.

In addition, the constantly shifting sand bars and other obstructions located in the Morganza Narrows also present a major hazard to navigators. As such, vessel captains must always be aware of their surroundings and take the necessary precautions to avoid these hazards.

The Corps of Engineers also has extensive navigational charts for the Morganza Narrows that detail the various depths and navigational challenges encountered by vessels in transit. These charts are an invaluable source of information for vessel captains and can be used to help plan for the challenges ahead.

Barge Movement Restrictions

Due to the geography of the river, there are a few restrictions placed on barge movement at the Morganza Narrows. Firstly, barges must adhere to the speed limits set by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Secondly, vessels must adhere to the one-way navigation rules that are in place. Lastly, barge movements must be coordinated with local authorities to alert them of any potential hazards or obstructions in the water.

These restrictions are essential for maintaining the safety of commercial vessels in transit. By adhering to these regulations, captains can better protect their vessels and the environment from potential accidents.

In addition, the Corps of Engineers also has the authority to place restrictions on the length of barges that can traverse the Morganza Narrows at any given time. This is done to ensure maximum safety and efficiency while preventing overcrowding of the river.

Maintenance Operations

The US Army Corps of Engineers is also responsible for the maintenance of the Morganza Narrows. This includes the dredging of the riverbed to ensure a consistent navigable depth, as well as the removal of any potential obstructions that could cause a navigational hazard. Furthermore, the Corps of Engineers is responsible for keeping the navigational charts up to date and ensuring that they are accurate.

In addition, the Corps of Engineers also monitors the water quality of the Mississippi River. This includes the monitoring of toxic chemicals, debris and sediment, algae, and other forms of pollution that could harm the environment. By doing so, the Corps of Engineers is able to help maintain a healthy river ecosystem.

The maintenance operations undertaken by the Corps of Engineers over the course of the last few decades have been instrumental in helping maintain a viable navigable channel for vessels wishing to traverse the Morganza Narrows. This has helped ensure the safety and efficiency of the river trade, while also helping to protect the river’s environment.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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