Making a splash After two decades of planning museum opens

Published 12:45 am Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tykes splashed in a scale model of the Mississippi River while parents joined in the fun Friday as the Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site opened to visitors.

Laurel O’Bannon, 8, and Jacob Porter, 3, took the short way from Greenville to Vicksburg — not on a dusty highway, but by leading their parents on a wet run through about 5 inches of water that meandered around islands and levees formed in about 200 feet of playground-style rubber behind the main exhibit hall.

“Man, that was fun!,” said Alainna O’Bannon, Laurel’s mother and a project designer on the $23 million museum. “Want to do it again?”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Planned for nearly two decades, the museum was financed entirely by appropriations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Exhibits that highlight the Lower Mississippi River’s cultural and commercial importance had 515 visitors on its first day, said Deborah Martin, co-owner of Service Specialists, which staffs the museum.

In the main building, a mural of Vicksburg’s riverfront circa 1910 adorns a wall the circles a 50-seat theater where visitors can watch a video history of the river. Other indoor exhibits simulate how the river’s movement over time since 1775 has created oxbow lakes between Mississippi and Louisiana and one that tells the story of cultures on the river from the 17th century to the 1950s. A mock-up of one of the refugee tents that lined the Delta after the 1927 flood stands near a 1,515-gallon aquarium that holds species of fish native to the river, including catfish.