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MISSISSIPPI RIVER, LOUISIANA– The Historic New Orleans Collection currently has quite a few interesting online tours to check out! John Lawrence is the curator of an exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection entitled, Enigmatic Stream, Industrial Landscapes of the lower Mississippi River.

In the 1800’s The German Coast was peppered with plantations that stretched from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Those plantations today are tourist attractions. Now, the river is aligned with factories and a different kind of industry. Richard Sexton is the photographer behind the HNOC exhibition. For two decades he has used his camera to document the river to show an insatiable desire of exploitation as humans make room for life along the Mississippi river’s banks.

The river has always fueled industry and helped people make a living, but it also has seemingly always had a darker side. Richard describes a piece of the river’s dilemma. “The whole structure of river road… to have this many plants this close together. Are they safe workplaces? What about the people who live near them? There is all sorts of evidence of higher cancer rates and then historically, the 18th and 19th century sugar plantations involved slavery. That was an extremely unfair system.”

There are over a hundred photos of chemical plants, farmland, sugarcane mills, oil refineries, lumber yards and urban landscape. They all grew from the fertility of the water and most of them are products of the descants of those who inhabited those early plantations.

Enigmatic Stream is also a book and is available for purchase. To check out the breathtaking and intimate photographs of Richard Sexton, you can click here, to see the Historic New Orleans Collections’ exhibition.