Today, it's almost impossible to say "Army Corps of Engineers" without also saying "Hurricane Katrina" and "levee failure," or "Yazoo Pump" and "boondoggle." But the corps' original mandate made no mention of hurricane and flood protection, or even of the Mississippi River. An Army Corps survey crew in 1916. Photo: history.nasa.gov In 1802, Congress established the Army Corps of Engineers as the nation's design and construction crew. The country was barely a quarter-century past the Revolutionary War -- where the first iteration of the corps had been assembled on the battlefield -- and it needed a steady supply of engineers …
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Jennifer Cutraro is a freelance writer based in the Boston area. She also writes about science, health and the environment for Science, The Boston Globe, and numerous outlets for kids.