Mississippi River

Mississippi River a.k.a. Old Man River

The two largest drainage systems in North America are (1) Hudson Bay (2) Mississippi River (MR).

Our focus is the MR.  It rises in northern Minnesota flowing 2,320 mile through the United States ending at the MR Delta at the Gulf of Mexico.

It drains parts of 31 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains.

The MR is the 4th longest and 5th largest river in the world based on discharge.  It passes through and/or borders the following states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Native Americans lived along the MR for years.  Most were hunter-gathers, such as the Mound Builders.  The Europeans arrived in the 16th Century changing the lives of the Natives as first explorers and later as settlers.  First, the MR served as a barrier, forming borders for New Spain, New France and the early United States, then as a vital transportation artery and communications link.  During the height of the ideology of manifest destiny in the 19th Century, the Mississippi along with several western tributaries, most notably the Missouri, created pathways for western expansion of the U.S.

Formed with silt deposits, the Mississippi River embankment is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the U.S. resulting in the river’s storied steamboat era.  During the Civil War, the Mississippi’s capture by the Union forces marked a turning point towards victory due to the river’s importance as a route of trade and travel.  Due to substantial growth of cities and the large ships and barges that supplanted riverboats, the first decades of the 20th century saw construction of massive engineering works.

The Mississippi River can be divided into three sections:

  1. Upper Mississippi
  2. Middle Mississippi
  3. Lower Mississippi

Upper Mississippi – runs from its headwaters to its confluence with the Missouri River at Saint Louis, Missouri.  It is divided into two sections:

  1. The headwaters, running 493 miles form the source to St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  2. A navigable channel, which is created by several man-made lakes between Minneapolis and St. Louis, Missouri for approximately 664 miles.

It has been accepted that the source of the Upper Mississippi branch is Lake Itasca, which is 1475 feet above sea level located in Itasca State Park in Clearwater County, Minnesota.

Middle Mississippi – it falls, or declines, approximately 220 feet over 180 miles for an average, averaging 1.2 feet per mile.  At the confluence with the Ohio River, the Mississippi is 315 feet above seal level.  Besides the Missouri and Meramec rivers of Missouri and the Kaskaskia River in Illinois there are no major tributaries entering the Middle Mississippi River.

Lower Mississippi – from it’s confluence with the Ohio River to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of approximately 1,000 miles.

The Mississippi River is an important asset to the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  It attracts tourists, provides transportation and much more.

Economic development for St. Louis is the responsibility of the St. Louis Port Authority.

St. Louis Port Authority

The Port Authority of the City of St. Louis supports economic development in the City’s 6,000-acre Port District, which lies along the City’s 19 miles of Mississippi River frontage.  It manages leases for City-owned property in this area and works with shipping stakeholders across the bi-state area to promote regional commerce.

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