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Coastal

The End of the Great River

A photographer looks at the changing landscapes of the river’s final miles

The End of the Great River

Matthew D. White

Head of Passes, End of Mississippi River, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

As a teenager and budding photographer in a small town in Upstate New York, Matthew D. White would pore over maps and photography books of warmer places, becoming especially fascinated by the lower Mississippi River. By his first photoshoot for the “End of the Great River” project in 2000, he had envisioned some of the photographs he wanted to take for years: he knew there was a lighthouse at Port Eads, for example, and he had long wanted to capture the view atop it, looking toward South Pass. 

White finds the changeable, sometimes remote terrain of the lower Mississippi soothing, despite its mutability; over the nearly twenty years of the project, he’s seen changes from season to season and the longer cycle of land gain and, more often, loss. While the land lasts, White plans to be out there, capturing this underrecorded, imperiled, and unique American landscape. 

South Pass from Port Eads.

Pilottown, Louisiana.

The Mississippi meets blue water, Burrwood, Louisiana.

Matthew D. White was born in Endwell, New York, and began taking photographs as a teenager. He has lived in New Orleans since 2003 with his wife and daughter. He holds a master’s degree in Jazz Studies from the University of New Orleans, and when not photographing, can be seen performing on guitar with many different combos in New Orleans. 

This article was made possible by the BHP-funded project, Coastal Impacts: An Integrated Approach for Community Adaptation, Understanding, and Planning, which will assist local communities to build intergenerational coastal literacy through community conversations around books, film, and exhibitions, fostering greater understanding of and support for coastal restoration projects.