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Facts About The Mississippi River

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In the early 1500’s, the Mississippi river was discovered, however it was not until 1830 where the origin of the river was discovered. It is the second longest river in the US, after the Missouri River, and the fourth largest drainage basin (watershed) in the world. Mississippi river is the United States largest river basin, covering an area more than 1,245,000 sq mi (3,220,000 km2), which is over 40% of the landmass of the continental United States. To learn more about the Mississippi river just continue reading.

Map of Mississippi River tributaryMap of Mississippi River tributary.

Fun facts

Did you know that water skiing was invented on the Mississippi river? Back in started in 1922 on a lake among the river. There are over 119 different fish species in the river. So if you are looking to catch some awesome fishing, then the Mississippi river is the place to go. If you go to the headwaters in Minnesota, you can actually walk across the river! It is only about three feet deep and flows at just over one mile per hour.

Start to finish

The Mississippi river starts at a lake called Lake Itasca, located on the north side of Minnesota. It has been noted that it would take over 85 days for a drop of water to leave the lake and travel all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The river is over 2,320 miles (3,734 km) long. It varies in depth from about 3 feet to over 200 feet. The Mississippi starts at over 1,400 feet and loses most of its altitude in the state of Minnesota till it reaches sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. The opening of the river is only about 20 to 30 feet wide; however in some places it can reach over 11 miles wide.

Mississippi River watershed. © National Park Service.Mississippi River watershed.

Unique bridge

There is a bridge that is over 24 miles in length that crosses a causeway in Louisiana that carries a highway. One section of the river has a system of locks-and-damns, 29 in total, that stretches over 660 miles between Minnesota and Illinois.

Historical facts

Mark Twain worked on the Mississippi on a river boat. After his time in the war, he went home and proceeded to write the stories of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, which both were based upon his travels on the river.