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National Rivers Hall of Fame Inductees

Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.


The Builders

Captain Andrew Atkinson Humphreys

Inducted in 2014

Captain A.A. Humphreys was an engineer and hydrologist whose 19th century studies paved the way for major modifications to the Mississippi River.

Humphreys graduated from West Point in 1831 and distinguished himself through his lifetime with his studies of river systems and flood control. In1861 Humphreys and Henry L. Abbot submitted the Report Upon the Physics and Hydraulics of the Mississippi River, a massive document with charts, graphs, and surveys which took 11 years to complete. Their report had tremendous impact on river and flood planning, containing new information and bold recommendations for managing the Mississippi as well as data on rivers around the world.

Humphreys and Abbot suggested that flooding on the Mississippi could be controlled by a complete levee system, deepening the channels, and straitening major bends and loops. He recommended that in taking these precautions, water would flow toward the Gulf more expeditiously and that the increased velocity of the water would reach the channel more effectively.

Humphreys had a strong personality, and he sparred with James Eads on engineering issues related to the Mississippi. His report also conflicted with the prior calculations made by Charles Ellet about the Mississippi, and he erroneously opposed Charles Ellet’s proposal for reservoirs to help control flooding. “Even today, his data are considered reliable and instructive. But [his competitiveness] did infect his reasoning and his recommendations….he (erroneously) claimed that outlets (to relieve flooding) risked creating a new main channel for the river.” (John Barry, Rising Tide)

Humphreys won great distinction as an engineer during the Civil War and then commanded the Army Corps of Engineers for 13 years. He received various honors for his work in hydraulics, was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was an original incorporator of the National Academy of Science. Humphreys report on the Mississippi was a landmark study which had a major impact on planning and managing the Mississippi for nearly a century.