History of the Mississippi Valley Division

The mission of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Mississippi Valley dates back to 1824, when the nation sought to improve navigation on the Mississippi River. Today that mission has been expanded to include flood risk management and environmental sustainability under the auspices of the Mississippi Valley Division, which was established April 1, 1997, with headquarters in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Its districts are located in St. Paul, Minnesota; Rock Island, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana.


The Lower Mississippi Valley Division was established in October 1929, with headquarters in Vicksburg and district offices in Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans. St. Louis District transferred to LMVD in 1954. The LMVD mission involved improvements for navigation and flood control on tributaries of the lower Mississippi River beyond the scope of the project for the Mississippi River and Tributaries under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi River Commission. The work included improvement of the St. Francis, White, Arkansas, Red, Ouachita and Yazoo rivers and tributaries, and smaller streams. The activities involved construction and maintenance of river and harbor works. The Lower Mississippi Valley Division was abolished with the establishment of the Mississippi Valley Division.


This division had been designated "Western Division," with headquarters in St. Louis and with district offices at St. Paul, Rock Island, Kansas City, St. Louis,  Memphis and Vicksburg. The Western Division, created in 1908, had jurisdiction over specific work on the Mississippi River and its tributaries from its headwaters at Lake Itasca to Baton Rouge. The Western Division was abolished with the establishment of the Lower Mississippi Valley Division at Vicksburg and the Upper Mississippi Valley Division at St. Louis in 1929. Prior to the establishment of the Western Division, the Office of Western Rivers Improvements, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and St. Louis, oversaw work in the Mississippi Valley.


On July 1, 1937, the newly formed Southwestern Division, with headquarters at Little Rock, Arkansas (now headquartered in Dallas, Texas), took over jurisdiction of work on some Mississippi River tributaries; e.d., White River and tributaries above Batesville, Arkansas; Arkansas River and tributaries above Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Red River and tributaries above Fulton, Arkansas.

In January 1941, the Gulf of Mexico Division was abolished and the work transferred to existing divisions: First New Orleans District river and harbor work went to the Lower Mississippi Valley Division, Galveston District to Southwestern Division and Mobile District to the South Atlantic Division.

Another change took place in September 1954 when the St. Louis District was transferred from the Upper Mississippi Valley Division to the Lower Mississippi Valley Division. The UMVD was abolished. The Great Lakes Division, with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, was redesignated as North Central Division and concurrently assigned the St. Paul and Rock Island districts.

In 1960, the navigation work on the Arkansas River, in connection with the authorized revision of the Arkansas River Navigation Project within the Vicksburg District, was transferred to the Little Rock District of the Southwestern Division, with the flood control work remaining in the Vicksburg District under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi River Commission.

April 1, 1997, Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard began implementation of the Corps' restructuring plan. This plan transferred command of the St. Paul and Rock Island districts to the newly established Mississippi Valley Division.