Mark Twain on Embankment Protection

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Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain, was one of America’s more notable authors.  One of his more interesting books was “Life on the Mississippi,” published in 1883.  This tome included reminiscences of Mr. Clemens’ life as a riverboat captain, tall tales, and an ongoing thread of natural and engineering observations. In it, he commented upon the value of trees on the banks of levees.   I am thinking that perhaps Samuel Clemens should have been a civil engineer.

“As in nature the growth of trees and their proneness where undermined to fall across the slope and support the bank secures at some points a fair depth of channel and some degree of permanence, so in the project of the engineer the use of timber and brush and the encouragement of forest growth are the main features. ”

His grasp of the value of vegetation and tree growth for embankment protection was intuitive and ahead of his time.