Under the currents of the Missouri River lies a murky world where the currency is not water but sediment.
From its mountainous headwaters in Montana to its mouth outside St. Louis, the Missouri River acts like a conveyor belt, moving millions of tons of sediment — a mixture of sand, soil and silt. At St. Louis, the Mississippi River takes over and carries the load down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Over the past century, the system’s economy has been faltering. Signs from Kansas City to the Gulf indicate the river’s sediment — or lack of it — might have lasting environmental and economic ramifications.