Storied places on the Mighty Mississippi


When the university launched its River Life Program several years ago, the notion of the I-35W bridge crossing as a storied place might have seemed odd. Today, that crossing is an important reminder of a tragedy that, in one way or another, affected hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans. It’s also an event that is likely to be featured on the Telling River Stories website, an outreach project of the River Life Program. The aim is to document the impact of the Mississippi River on the people and the spaces around it and the ways in which people have shaped the river.

Stories, in the form of written word and podcast (digitally recorded audio broadcasts), are not limited to the Twin Cities, or even Minnesota alone, although the first river story podcast available on the site does feature a Minnesota narrative — the story of the Dakota people interned near the river at Fort Snelling in the 1860s. The site looks at the river in its entirety, from its origin in Minnesota all the way to its delta in Louisiana. Launched late this spring, Telling River Stories is still in its infancy, according to Pat Nunnally, coordinator of the River Life Program, though additions to the site are in the works. “It’s really a project that looks at the notion of heritage,” Nunnally said, adding that there are three types of stories the site will host.

They include:

• stories about places where land and water have been shaped;
• stories about how a specific part of the river can further understanding of an entire process, in relation to other parts of the river; and
• stories about how places on the river have contested or variable meanings. (For example, Nunnally said the DeLaSalle stadium debate on Nicollet Island could eventually find its way onto the site, once the debate “cools off a little.”)

For more information, or to share an idea for a river story, contact Nunnally at visit the Telling River Stories website.