There are seven National Park Service sites along the Mississippi River. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. Only with the arrival of the railroads in the 1880s did steamboat traffic diminish. The Mississippi River can be divided into three sections: the Upper Mississippi, the river from its headwaters to the confluence with the Missouri River; the Middle Mississippi, which is downriver from the Missouri to the Ohio River; and the Lower Mississippi, which flows from the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico. The road crossing highest on the Upper Mississippi is a simple steel culvert, through which the river (locally named "Nicolet Creek") flows north from Lake Nicolet under "Wilderness Road" to the West Arm of Lake Itasca, within Itasca State Park.[49]. From St. Louis to the Ohio River confluence, the Middle Mississippi falls 220 feet (67 m) over 180 miles (290 km) for an average rate of 1.2 feet per mile (23 cm/km). [42], The town of Kaskaskia, Illinois once stood on a peninsula at the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia (Okaw) Rivers. People flocked to the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday to get a rare look at what the river used to look like.. [24], By the time the Upper Mississippi reaches Saint Paul, Minnesota, below Lock and Dam No. 2, near Hastings, Minnesota, was completed in 1930. These additional facilities give the Corps much more flexibility and potential flow capacity than they had in 1973, which further reduces the risk of a catastrophic failure in this area during other major floods, such as that of 2011. 7, near La Crosse, Wisconsin, is more than 4 miles (6.4 km) wide. The Mississippi River after its confluence with the Ohio River is known as the Lower Mississippi River. [69][70] The Ojibwe called Lake Itasca Omashkoozo-zaaga'igan (Elk Lake) and the river flowing out of it Omashkoozo-ziibi (Elk River). Twain portrays the river as a powerful natural force that constantly changes the landscape along its banks. The Upper Mississippi River is joined by the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling in the Twin Cities; the St. Croix River near Prescott, Wisconsin; the Cannon River near Red Wing, Minnesota; the Zumbro River at Wabasha, Minnesota; the Black, La Crosse, and Root rivers in La Crosse, Wisconsin; the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; the Rock River at the Quad Cities; the Iowa River near Wapello, Iowa; the Skunk River south of Burlington, Iowa; and the Des Moines River at Keokuk, Iowa. Stop in to view our "cabinet of curiosities" and learn just what a "cabinet of curiosities" was. [78] In 1848, the continental divide separating the waters of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley was breached by the Illinois and Michigan canal via the Chicago River. River Life 290 Northrop, 84 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612) 625-7225 | (612) 625-8583 [108] The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designated much of the Mississippi River in the state as infested waters by the exotic species zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil.[109]. Beginning just below Saint Paul, Minnesota, and continuing throughout the upper and lower river, the Mississippi is further controlled by thousands of Wing Dikes that moderate the river's flow in order to maintain an open navigation channel and prevent the river from eroding its banks. [47][48] In various areas, the river has since shifted, but the state borders have not changed, still following the former bed of the Mississippi River as of their establishment, leaving several small isolated areas of one state across the new river channel, contiguous with the adjacent state. Four great earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, estimated at approximately 8 on the Richter magnitude scale, had tremendous local effects in the then sparsely settled area, and were felt in many other places in the Midwestern and eastern U.S. Although the natural vegetation of the Mississippi’s immediate valley is the product of climate and soil rather than of the river, the Mississippi’s swamps and backwaters are ecologically noteworthy. Since this event was an avulsion, rather than the effect of incremental erosion and deposition, the state line still follows the old channel. Substantial parts of both Minnesota and Louisiana are on either side of the river, although the Mississippi defines part of the boundary of each of these states. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, List of crossings of the Upper Mississippi River, List of crossings of the Lower Mississippi River, List of locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River, Mississippi River Band of Chippewa Indians, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, List of longest rivers of the United States (by main stem), Lists of crossings of the Mississippi River, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, "The Headwaters of the amazing Mississippi River in Ojibwe", "Mississippi River Facts – Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)", "The 10 States That Border the Mississippi", "Mississippi (river US) facts, information, pictures | articles about Mississippi (river US)", "The 10 Tallest Mountains East of the Mississippi", "New Madrid – 220+ Years Old and Counting", "Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia", "MMRP: Middle Mississippi River Partnership", "The Mississippi Levee System and the Old River Control Structure", "USACE Brochure: Old River Control, Jan 2009", "General Information about the Mississippi River", "Arkansas v. Tennessee, 246 U.S. 158 :: Volume 246 :: 1918", Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and Navigation, "Hell Gate of the Mississippi: The Effie Afton Trial and Abraham Lincoln's Role in It", "US Army Corps of Engineers, Brief History", "U.S. Waterway System Facts, December 2005", "Mississippi Valley Trade & Transport Council", "Corps to Study Lower Mississippi River Deepening Project – International Dredging Review – June 2015", "Appendix E: Nine-foot navigation channel maintenance activities", "The Old River Control Structure on the Lower Mississippi River", "Levees among possible cause of more frequent flooding", "History of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project", "AISRI Dictionary Database Search—prototype version. [101] Ralph Samuelson of Lake City, Minnesota, created and refined his skiing technique in late June and early July 1922. Lock and Dam No. On March 2, 1699, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville rediscovered the mouth of the Mississippi, following the death of La Salle. The big one lies out there somewhere—when the structures can't release all the floodwaters and the levee is going to have to give way. This process has, over the past 5,000 years, caused the coastline of south Louisiana to advance toward the Gulf from 15 to 50 miles (24 to 80 km). Below the dam, the river's elevation is 750 feet (230 m). Twain also wrote a book called Life on the Mississippi, which had some stories about how he used to work on a steamboat. The fish of the Mississippi River are mostly invisible unless we seek them out with a fishing rod. The Mississippi River is the second longest river in North America, flowing 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Most were hunter-gatherers, but some, such as the Mound Builders, formed prolific agricultural and urban civilisations. The canal allowed shipping between these important waterways. It also serves to protect the St. Louis city water intakes during times of low water. by El (Upper Mississippi River) The view from our houseboat on the Mississippi. Founded as a French colonial community, it later became the capital of the Illinois Territory and was the first state capital of Illinois until 1819. In all of these cases, the middle of the riverbed at the time the borders were established was used as the line to define the borders between adjacent states. Also, due to a meander in the river, a small part of western Kentucky is contiguous with Tennessee, but isolated from the rest of its state. The soil in areas such as Louisiana was thereafter found to be very rich.[63]. NPS/Gordon Dietzman. South of Hennepin, to Alton, Illinois, the current Illinois River follows the ancient channel used by the Mississippi River before the Illinoian Stage. Two portions of the Mississippi were designated as American Heritage Rivers in 1997: the lower portion around Louisiana and Tennessee, and the upper portion around Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Help support true facts by becoming a member. The Mississippi River runs through or along 10 states, from Minnesota to Louisiana, and is used to define portions of these states borders, with Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi along the east side of the river, and Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas along its west side. The second-longest river in the U.S. and the fourth longest in the world, the Mississippi River gets its start at Lake Itasca and flows through nine other states, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The port of New Orleans boomed as it was the trans-shipment point to deep sea ocean vessels. The Des Moines Rapids were about 11 miles (18 km) long and just above the mouth of the Des Moines River at Keokuk, Iowa. Steamboat captains of the day, fearful of competition from the railroads, considered the new bridge a hazard to navigation. by El (Upper Mississippi River) The view from our houseboat on the Mississippi. He referred to his voyage as a promenade that was once a journey on the Mississippi. They have spread throughout much of the basin, even approaching (but not yet invading) the Great Lakes. Although the natural vegetation of the Mississippi’s immediate valley is the product of climate and soil rather than of the river, the Mississippi’s swamps and backwaters are ecologically noteworthy. After flowing into Cass Lake, the name of the river changes to Gaa-miskwaawaakokaag-ziibi (Red Cedar River) and then out of Lake Winnibigoshish as Wiinibiigoonzhish-ziibi (Miserable Wretched Dirty Water River), Gichi-ziibi (Big River) after the confluence with the Leech Lake River, then finally as Misi-ziibi (Great River) after the confluence with the Crow Wing River. [102], Because of its size and high species diversity, the Mississippi basin is often divided into subregions. The images from NASA's MODIS (to the right) show a large plume of fresh water, which appears as a dark ribbon against the lighter-blue surrounding waters. Built by a private power company (Union Electric Company of St. Louis) to generate electricity (originally for streetcars in St. Louis), the Keokuk dam was one of the largest hydro-electric plants in the world at the time. [19] The river served first as a barrier, forming borders for New Spain, New France, and the early United States, and then as a vital transportation artery and communications link. Steamers worked the entire route from the trickles of Montana, to the Ohio River; down the Missouri and Tennessee, to the main channel of the Mississippi. The book was published first in serial form in Harper's Weekly in seven parts in 1875. Following Britain's victory in the Seven Years War the Mississippi became the border between the British and Spanish Empires. This is exemplified by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the phrase "Trans-Mississippi" as used in the name of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. The Mississippi River Band of Chippewa Indians, known as the Gichi-ziibiwininiwag, are named after the stretch of the Mississippi River known as the Gichi-ziibi. Mississippi River Cruising Perfected Cruise the legendary Mississippi River aboard the newest riverboats in the region and enjoy perfect comfort and modern amenities as you travel to each historical destination. Biologist Paul Hartfield has focused his work on studying these creatures, which were known for making one of … Dam 26 at Alton, Illinois, which had structural problems, was replaced by the Mel Price Lock and Dam in 1990. A period of more isolated communities followed, and agriculture introduced from Mesoamerica based on the Three Sisters (maize, beans and squash) gradually came to dominate. They dated to the late 19th to early 20th centuries. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its banks in 145 places, during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and inundated 27,000 sq mi (70,000 km2) to a depth of up to 30 feet (9.1 m). River of Dreams : Imagining The Mississippi Before Mark Twain. The dams make the river deeper and wider but do not stop it. Open year-round, River View offers 193 sites, with 135 full hookups. In the 19th century, during the height of the ideology of manifest destiny, the Mississippi and several western tributaries, most notably the Missouri, formed pathways for the western expansion of the United States. "River", Southband Pawnee", "Carte de la Louisiane, cours du Mississipi et pais voisins... / par Nicolas Bellin... ; Dheulland sculpsit", "Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi. The Mississippi was completely changed by the steamboat era as it transformed into a flourishing tourist trade.[83]. In the 18th century, the river was the primary western boundary of the young United States, and since the country's expansion westward, the Mississippi River has been widely considered a convenient if approximate dividing line between the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States, and the Western United States. When the ice sheet completely retreated, many of these "temporary" rivers found paths to Hudson Bay or the Arctic Ocean, leaving the Mississippi Basin with many features "over-sized" for the existing rivers to have carved in the same time period. [55] There is a feasibility study to dredge this portion of the river to 50 feet (15 m) to allow New Panamax ship depths.[56]. [citation needed]. Threaded along the river, from the wild-rice marshes of Minnesota to the coastal wetlands of the delta, are pockets of thriving plant-animal associations. [14][15] From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km)[15] to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. The Upper Mississippi runs from its headwaters to its confluence with the Missouri River at St. Louis, Missouri. The Mississippi's most distant tributaries begin life amongst the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming. Steamboats entered trade in the 1820s, so the period 1830–1850 became the golden age of steamboats. This 49-foot (15 m) drop is the largest of all the Mississippi River locks and dams. Yet this is an encounter in a dream (or rather several dreams): the water is purer than in real life, and Raine’s speaker is an ‘expected guest’ at the house by the river’s edge. After flowing into Lake Bemidji, the Ojibwe called the river Bemijigamaag-ziibi (River from the Traversing Lake). After the completion of the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in 1963, the river's head of navigation moved upstream, to the Coon Rapids Dam. Before 1900, the Mississippi River transported an estimated 440 million short tons (400 million metric tons) of sediment per year from the interior of the United States to coastal Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. 27), which consists of a low-water dam and an 8.4-mile-long (13.5 km) canal, was added in 1953, just below the confluence with the Missouri River, primarily to bypass a series of rock ledges at St. Louis. Retrieved November 7, 2015. The height of these bluffs decreases to the south of Dubuque, though they are still significant through Savanna, Illinois. [102], About 375 fish species are known from the Mississippi basin, far exceeding other North Hemisphere river basin exclusively within temperate/subtropical regions,[102] except the Yangtze. Experience the extraordinary animals, epic landscapes, and remarkable people who live alongside three iconic rivers - the Amazon, the Nile and the Mississippi in this landmark three-part series. The English poet Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) wrote this wonderful poem about an encounter ‘down by the riverside’. This spillway and an imperfect natural levee about 4–6 meters (12 to 20 feet) high are all that prevents the Mississippi from taking a new, shorter course through Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico. After around 800 AD there arose an advanced agricultural society today referred to as the Mississippian culture, with evidence of highly stratified complex chiefdoms and large population centers. We know that God has a purpose for your life and wants to have relationship with you. A series of 29 locks and dams on the upper Mississippi, most of which were built in the 1930s, is designed primarily to maintain a 9-foot-deep (2.7 m) channel for commercial barge traffic. Control of the river was a strategic objective of both sides in the American Civil War. The United States then secured effective control of the river when it bought the Louisiana Territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. c. 800 BC: The Mississippi diverted further east. Since the 20th century, the Mississippi River has also experienced major pollution and environmental problems – most notably elevated nutrient and chemical levels from agricultural runoff, the primary contributor to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. ", "Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog : Mississippi River sets all-time flood records; 2nd major spillway opens : Weather Underground", "Floods are a reminder of the Mississippi River's power: John Barry", "Morganza ready for flood | The Advertiser", "Mississippi River flooding in New Orleans area could be massive if Morganza spillway stays closed", "McPhee, The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya", "Invasive Asian carp less than 50 miles from Lake Michigan", Flood management in the Mississippi River, Mississippi River Challenge – annual canoe & kayak event on the Twin Cities stretch, Drafting and ratification of Constitution, Office of the Director of National Intelligence,, Articles with dead external links from June 2016, Wikipedia indefinitely semi-protected pages, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with text in Algonquian languages, Articles with unsourced statements from September 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from January 2018, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2017, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, The headwaters, 493 miles (793 km) from the source to. The structure was nearly lost during the 1973 flood, but repairs and improvements were made after engineers studied the forces at play. The water elevation continues to drop steeply as it passes through the gorge carved by the waterfall. Mississippi Valley Division. The currently active delta lobe is called the Birdfoot Delta, after its shape, or the Balize Delta, after La Balize, Louisiana, the first French settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi. [64] Evidence of early cultivation of sunflower, a goosefoot, a marsh elder and an indigenous squash dates to the 4th millennium BC. The steamboat era changed the economic and political life of the Mississippi, as well as the nature of travel itself. A major focus of this work has been to prevent the lower Mississippi from shifting into the channel of the Atchafalaya River and bypassing New Orleans. Instead, it stayed intact as it flowed through the Gulf of Mexico, into the Straits of Florida, and entered the Gulf Stream.