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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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What's Going On Here?

What's Going On Here?

A Shorpy tip of the hat to the first person who can tell us what's going on in this circa 1900 photo. (UPDATE: Click here for the answer.) View full size.

On Shorpy:
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God, I love this site

And its commenters as well! Thanks, guys. I had never heard of "revetment."

Mr de Kam. are trees and branches still used this way in the Netherlands, or have the Dutch moved on to other materials?

Other possibilities

Nah, I still think it's a really large placemat.

Someone call Mike Rowe!!


I know what it is because an episode of Dirty Jobs featured people STILL doing this very thing to rivers today.


We have a winner! It took only 29 minutes for Dirck the Noorman to come up with the magic word, "revetment." And only 10 minutes for Tom in Denver to hit on the general idea. Original caption for this Detroit Publishing image:

"Cambridge, Missouri. Revetment work on the Missouri River. Weaving the mat."

After the mat is woven and sunk, it's paved with stones.


They're weaving a mat or "revetment" to stabilize the bottom or shoreline of a lake or river. Dikes were often built on top of revetments like this.


Willow Weavers

They're building a willow mat to control the Mississipi river.

More pictures of the process here:

The photo at the very bottom shows a completed mat that looks a lot like the one being constructed here.

Fish Net

They're weaving a huge fish net starting from right and going towards left - having water making it stronger in the long run as well?

Who knows.

Building dykes

For me here in the Netherlands it is obvious what is going on in this photo: The man are weaving the branches of young trees to make a protective structure that is used to enhance the strength of a dyke to keep the high water out.

Harvesting sea grass??

I would guess they are harvesting some sort of sea grass to use for weaving baskets. Maybe off the Georgia coast?? Circa 1890's??

What they're doing

It appears that the work crew is weaving a shore-protection mat to prevent erosion on a levee. Probably along the Mississippi somewhere.

My Guess

Seems we're somewhere way down south, bundling sugar cane and loading it on a barge to send to market. Do I have a winner?

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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