Mississippi River Commission History

Published July 17, 2013

MRC Logo

Congress established the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) on June 28, 1879, with the mission to develop plans to improve the condition of the river, foster navigation, promote commerce, and prevent destructive floods—perhaps the most difficult and complex engineering problem ever undertaken by the federal government up to that time."  In addition to its responsibilities for overseeing the improvement of the Mississippi River, the MRC gave Mississippi Valley interests a greater voice in inspection trips aboard the Motor Vessel Mississippi.

The membership of the MRC consists of three general officers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (one serving as president); one member from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey); and three civilians, two of whom must be civil engineers.  Since its creation, the presidential appointed MRC has retained this unique composition.

In its current capacity, the MRC prosecutes the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) project that was authorized through the historic 1928 flood control act.  The MR&T project, a comprehensive plan for improving the river and portions of its tributaries between Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Head of Passes, La., is arguably the most successful civil works program ever initiated.

The continuing duties of the MRC include making recommendations on policy and work programs, studying and reporting on the need for modifications or additions to the MR&T, conducting public hearings, and making inspection trips along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  The work of the MRC is directed by its president and carried out by six U.S. Army Corps of Engineer districts located in St. Paul, Minn., Rock Island, Ill, St. Louis, Mo., Memphis, Tenn., Vicksburg, Miss., and New Orleans, La.

The MRC statutory authorities are contained at 33 U.S.C. Sections 641-653a.

MRC Commissioners 

Maj. Gen. John W. Peabody, President    Corps of Engineers                              Vicksburg, MS

Mr. Sam Angel                                          Civilian                                                  Lake Village, AR

Mr. R. D. James                                        Civilian/Civil Engineer                           New Madrid, MO

Dr. Norma Jean Mattei                              Civilian/Civil Engineer                           Metairie, LA

RDML Gerd F. Glang                               NOAA (Coast and Geodetic Survey)    Silver Spring, MD

Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham             Corps of Engineers                               Cincinnati, OH

Brig. Gen. John Kem                                Corps of Engineers                               Portland, OR