All the photos are 1920-30's era attempts at Riverbank stabilization, using techniques such as Board Mattresses, Gabion Burrs and Timber Pile Dikes...
Huh? You might be saying. Yeah, me too. But once you see the pictures, you'll notice that these techniques aren't too far off from current day riprap, gabion baskets, brush mattresses, etc.
Check them out here. They're quite neat.
We've got a few emails asking who exactly the man in the photo is. And yes, your first thought was correct - that is indeed the legendary David Derrick smilin' at ya!