Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Cairo, Ill.

Preston Ewing Jr., treasurer and unofficial historian in Cairo, with a map of the levee system surrounding the town, which sits at a point where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers converge. Ewing said the town’s decline became inevitable after World War II as long-haul trucking and air freight began to overtake commercial river traffic. Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times