History - New Orleans District

New Orleans District

"Since 1803, the men and women of the New Orleans District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have worked with Louisiana's citizens and the surrounding environment. Our combined accomplishments create an intriguing story of man's interaction with nature, the results, and consequences.  This story has become a subject of keen interest to students, academics, and citizens all over the world. We wish to provide a resource that shares the story of the New Orleans District mission -- past and present.  A continued understanding and appreciation of our history is essential if we are to set goals and accomplish future challenges in southern Louisiana."

- Col. Alvin B. Lee (ret.), New Orleans District Commander (2007-2010)

Two Centuries At Work In Southern Louisiana

The Corps of Engineers has served the economy and people of southern Louisiana with navigation improvements, flood control and, in recent decades, environmental stewardship.

Our service since 1803 has been an ever-evolving task. We made possible the flatboat and then steamboat trade that gave outlet to the Mississippi Basin’s bounty. After the Great Flood of 1927 on the Mississippi, the Corps assumed a far-larger role in flood control, with great works such as the Bonnet Carre Spillway and Morganza Floodway, and in the century's second half, the Old River Control Structure to keep the Mississippi on course.

Today's great challenges are the twin threats of hurricane destruction and coastal erosion. The latter is the main reason that environmental protection is looming larger than either flood control or navigation. However, in the imperiled, 20,000-square mile Louisiana coastal area the three tasks are inextricably linked. Historically comprehensive studies are now underway on coastal restoration and hurricane protection, and will require close coordination for maximum effectiveness.

The Corps of Engineers also maintains and applies guidelines and criteria for the conservation of cultural resources (archeological, historical, underwater and architectural) as part of implementation of all Corps active and planned projects. We maintain stewardship of federal land relative to cultural resources, recreational use and other values.

The Corps of Engineers protects cultural resources, on which civil works projects such as levees can have major impacts. In addition to protecting archeological and historical resources, we exercise stewardship over federal lands to provide recreation and achieve other goals. In performing cultural and recreational work, we have developed information about local and Corps history in southern Louisiana.