Called the Old River Control Structure , the more than 50-year-old structure has a distinct design and performs an almost impossible task: controlling and regulating the most important flow of the river. America, the Mississippi River.
Mississippi is the largest river in the United States and the 4th largest in the world. Every year, this great river brings about 159 million tons of alluvial deposits to the downstream areas, creating a vast delta that encroaches on the sea with countless sand dunes and islets.
During the flood season, the huge amount of water in the Mississippi River often floods the banks, causing floods, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in downstream areas. To relieve water pressure, the US Army Corps of Engineers built many flood protection systems but did not solve the problem thoroughly.
In the 1950s, hydrologists studied that by reducing the amount of water in the Mississippi River by 30% by siphoning or diverting water elsewhere, it could reduce flooding significantly.
The difficult problem requires great minds, and Hans Albert Einstein was named by the US government to start building one of the nation's greatest works.
Hans Albert Einstein is the second son of the famous physicist Albert Einstein. He used to be Professor of Hydraulics at the University of California, famous for his many contributions to hydraulic engineering and sediment transport.
The ancient River Control structure was built by the efforts of so many individuals, but Hans Albert Einstein laid the foundations for where this building is located, how it looks and how it should be done. .
Atchafalaya is a small river, with a downstream flow almost parallel to Mississippi, all facing the Gulf of Mexico.
The two rivers intersect at a point 507 km from the coast, Hans Einstein and his colleagues decided to choose this turn to build a water control system with the aim of bringing 30% of the Mississippi River's water to Atchafalaya.
The Old River Control structure acts to direct 30% of the water of the Mississippi into Atchafalaya. (Photo: Wafb).
The water control system consists of 3 independent constructions, created from millions of tons of most solid materials at the time.
The Overbank structure is located north of the system, in the middle of a flooded area. This work is a reinforced concrete block about 900 m long with 70 gates made from wood and metal materials. This gate system can be opened and closed by a mobile crane to guide water when needed.
South of the system is the Auxiliary Structure, the channel system that allows boats to move into the Atchafalaya River.
In the middle of these two buildings is the Low Sill, which plays the most important role in the Old River Control Structure. Hans Einsteins and his colleagues confirmed that Low Sill can withstand floods as high as 11.2 meters.
The Old River Control structure was made up of 3 independent constructions, made of the strongest materials of the time. (Photo: Wunderground).
The Low Sill structure has a length of about 172 m and a height of about 21 m. Designed as a dam with 11 metal gates, each door 13 m high can be raised and lowered to control the amount of water passing through.
During the regular season, Low Sill always opens 3 doors to bring 30% of the water from Mississippi into Atchafalaya. In the event of a high risk of flooding, more dam gates will be opened to drain water, reducing dike overflow pressure in the lower Mississippi River. US Congress is the body that decides whether or not to open the dam.
"The river is saved, the risk of floods will end forever," said a colonel from the US Army Corps of Engineers when the project was completed in 1963.
Albert Einstein congratulated his son on a visit to New York City, USA. (Photo: Getty).
The Old River Control Structure is stable and running for the next 10 years. In the autumn of 1972, the weather in the Midwest region of the United States suddenly became worse and the spring flood of 1973 pushed Hans Einstein's work to safety.
The fast flowing water on the Mississippi River creates whirlpools just below the structure, completely swept away the walls protecting the foundation. Luckily, the entire river control structure still stands.
After the historic flood in 1973, the American Engine Corps decided to build a much larger and much more expensive auxiliary system to protect the legacy of Hans Einstein and his colleagues.
In 1986, the water flow control system completed the addition of a solid protective wall, helping it stand up to every flood for the next 35 years.