Borup, M. Brett, Nelson, E. James, Rollins, Kyle M., Smith, Richard D.
Transforming Swampland into Nauvoo, the City Beautiful : A Civil Engineering Perspective
Nauvoo was an early success story of the drainage of swampy lands. Most successful drainage efforts occurred after the Civil War. Draining Nauvoo was necessary due to the swampy conditions of the land and the prevalence of malaria, but the method in which it was done is not known. Presently, there are some existing drainage ditches in Nauvoo, but it is unknown whether or not these ditches remain from the time of the Saints' settling in the city. Gustavus Hill created a map of the region sometime between March 1841 and December 1842 which shows the presence of two drainage channels; one on the north and one on the south side of the city. The purpose of these ditches was to collect ground and surface water runoff from the bluffs. Digging the ditches probably required about 21,000 man hours to complete by hand. Draining the city was most likely a community wide effort, with individuals and families draining their own land. Early drainage efforts were mainly focused on the south side of the town, resulting in a healthier state of the land in that area. Draining the city was a continuous process and lasted the throughout the Saints' stay in Nauvoo.