Facts About The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River, the primary river of North America's largest river system at the Chain of Rocks.

7. Where Is The Mississippi River Located? -

The Mississippi River is the primary river of the largest drainage system in the entire continent of North America. The river flows entirely within the boundaries of the US. However, its drainage basin stretches into Canada. From its source, the Lake Itasca in Minnesota, the Mississippi River meanders southwards to form the Mississippi River Delta at its mouth before draining into the Gulf of Mexico. The river, its tributaries, and distributaries drain thirty-one states in the US as well as two Canadian provinces. The Mississippi River itself flows through 10 US states.

6. Who Discovered The Mississippi River? -

In 1539, an adventurous European explorer Hernando de Soto set out to explore the unknown lands in the New World. Soto and his group of over 200 men traveled from what is now modern day Tampa, Florida in the southeastern direction in the hope of discovering treasures. On his way, on May 8, 1541, Soto became the first person with a recorded history of reaching the Mississippi River. At that time, he called the river Río del Espíritu Santo which in Spanish means "River of the Holy Spirit.” Late, in the 17th century, the river was explored by a group of French explorers who were accompanied by a Sioux Indian who gave the river a new name Ne Tongo meaning “Big River.” 

5. Where Does The Mississippi River Start? -

Lake Itasca, a small glacial lake located in southeastern Clearwater County of the US state of Minnesota, is from where the Mississippi River originates. The lake encompasses an area of about 1.8 square miles in the Itasca State Park. The depth of the lake averages 6-11 m, and it is located 450 m above sea level.

4. How Long Is The Mississippi River? -

There are several competing claims regarding the length of the Mississippi River. According to the published reports of the US Geologic Survey, the Mississippi is 2,552 miles long. The EPA claims that the river is 2,320 miles long. The staff of the Itasca State Park where the river originates claim that the Mississippi River is 2,552 miles long. Another figure of 2,350 miles is suggested by the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. However, whatever be the actual figure, the fact that the Mississippi River is one of the longest river systems in the world remains true.

3. How Wide Is The Mississippi River? -

The width of the Mississippi River varies along its length. The river is narrowest at its source in the Lake Itasca where it is 20 to 30 feet wide. The widest stretch of the river occurs near Bena, Minnesota where it forms the Lake Winnibigoshish. Here, the Mississippi River is over 17 km wide. The lower Mississippi portion of the Mississippi River is the widest navigable stretch of the river where the river is more than 1.6 km wide.

2. How Deep Is The Mississippi River? -

Like its width, the depth of the Mississippi River varies greatly from its mouth to its source. The river's depth is less than 3 feet at its origin. The maximum depth of the Mississippi River is 200 feet in New Orleans as it flows from the Governor Nicholls Wharf to the Algiers Point.

1. Where Does The Mississippi River End? -

The Mississippi River after its confluence with the Ohio River is known as the Lower Mississippi River. The other major tributaries joining the river at this stage are the White River, Arkansas River, and the Red River. The major distributary of the Lower Mississippi River is the Atchafalaya River which carries 30% of the water of the river and drains into the Gulf of Mexico. The rest of the Mississippi River continues down the original Mississippi channel past Baton Rouge and New Orleans and finally enters the Gulf of Mexico, 100 miles downstream of New Orleans.


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