the largest drainage ditch, Mississippi River and Missouri River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the river in Canada, see Mississippi River (Ontario).
Mississippi River
Efmo View from Fire Point.jpg
Mississippi River near Harpers Ferry, Iowa
Name origin: Ojibwe word misi-ziibi, meaning “Great River”, or gichi-ziibi, meaning “Big River”
Country United States
States Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana
Tributaries
 – left St. Croix River, Wisconsin River, Rock River, Illinois River, Kaskaskia River, Ohio River
 – right Minnesota River, Des Moines River, Missouri River, White River, Arkansas River, Red River
Cities Minneapolis, MN, St. Paul, MN, La Crosse, WI, Quad Cities, IA/IL, St. Louis, MO, Memphis, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, New Orleans, LA
Source Lake Itasca[1]
 – location Itasca State Park, Clearwater County, MN
 – elevation 1,475 ft (450 m)
 – coordinates 47°14′23″N 95°12′27″W
Mouth Gulf of Mexico
 – location Pilottown, Plaquemines Parish, LA
 – elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 – coordinates 29°09′04″N 89°15′12″W
Length 2,320 mi (3,734 km)
Basin 1,151,000 sq mi (2,981,076 km2)
Discharge for mouth; max and min at Baton Rouge, LA
 – average 593,000 cu ft/s (16,792 m3/s) [2]
 – max 3,065,000 cu ft/s (86,791 m3/s)
 – min 159,000 cu ft/s (4,502 m3/s)
Detailed map of Mississippi River tributary structure

The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest drainage system in North America.[3][4] Flowing entirely in the United States (though its drainage basin reaches into Canada), it rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,320 miles (3,730 km)[4] to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi’s watershed drains all or parts of 31 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Native Americans long lived along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Most were hunter-gatherers or herders, but some, such as the Mound builders, formed prolific agricultural societies. The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s changed the native way of life as first explorers, then settlers, ventured into the basin in increasing numbers. The river served first as a barrier – forming borders for New Spain, New France, and the early United States – then as a vital transportation artery and communications link. In the 19th century, during the height of Manifest Destiny, the Mississippi and several western tributaries, most notably the Missouri, formed pathways for the western expansion of the United States.

Formed from thick layers of this river’s silt deposits, the Mississippi River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the country, which resulted in the river’s storied steamboat era. During the American Civil War, the Mississippi’s capture by Union forces marked a turning point towards victory because of the river’s importance as a route of trade and travel, not least to the Confederacy. Because of substantial growth of cities and the larger ships and barges that supplanted riverboats, the decades following the 1900s saw the construction of massive engineering works such as levees, locks and dams, often built in combination.

Since modern development of the basin began, the Mississippi has also seen its share of pollution and environmental problems – most notably large volumes of agricultural runoff, which has led to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone off the Delta. In recent years, the river has shown a steady shift towards the Atchafalaya River channel in the Delta; a course change would prove disastrous to seaports such as New Orleans. While a system of dikes and gates has held the Mississippi in its current channel to date, the shift becomes more likely each year due to fluvial processes.[citation needed]

Name

The word itself comes from Messipi, the French rendering of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe or Algonquin) name for the river, Misi-ziibi (Great River). See below in History section for additional information.

In addition to historical traditions shown by names, there are at least two other measures of a river‘s identity, one being the largest branch (by water volume), and the other bein

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s