National Geographic : 1960 Nov
the form of solid cakes; some in storage tanks was kept molten by steam. From these tanks it drained off into "thermobarges," which keep it hot during the trip up the Mississippi and throughout the mid-continent where it is put to a thousand uses. The really colossal wealth of the delta, how ever, is in its oil and gas. We flew over oil and gas wells in the marshes and in the Gulf itself as far as 30 miles from shore. Oil workers fly to and from offshore platforms by helicop ter. On our plane radio, like that of a taxi, we overheard constant instructions to the drivers of these air jitneys. "The deepest producing oil well in the world is here in the marshland near Lake 722 Grande Ecaille-it goes down 22,500 feet," our pilot told us. Now over the Gulf of Mex ico, we could see a gigantic drilling rig. These rigs cost money-as much as $5,000,000. When one is towed into place, it will lower its legs to the bottom, then jack itself out of water to tower 100 feet or higher. We took another plane, this time an am phibian belonging to the Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission, to tour the strange watery waste south of New Orleans. Follow ing the river, we came at last to Head of Passes. Here the Mississippi splits up into many rivers, spreading out like the webbed foot of a duck, each pass finding its own way to the Gulf of Mexico (map, page 683).