22 Fun Facts About Mississippi River
- The first bridge crossing over the Mississippi was built in 1856 between Illinois and Iowa.
- The river is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in North America, including the bald cypress and tupelo gum.
- The Mississippi River is also an important source of irrigation water for farms along its banks.
- The Mississippi River is a major source of drinking water for millions of people throughout the Central United States.
- Thousands of acres of marshlands and wetlands have been created along the river due to sediment deposition over time.
- Over 1 million people visit the river every year to the fish, boat, and participate in other recreational activities.
- The Mississippi River has the highest rate of water discharge of any river in North America.
- At its widest point near Memphis, Tennessee, the river measures over 5 miles across.
- The source of the Mississippi is Lake Itasca, which is over 1,000 miles from where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
- There are more than 30 locks and dams along the length of the river that control water levels and allow for boat navigation.
- The Mississippi River is the second longest river in North America.
- It is the fourth longest river in the world and drains an area of approximately , making it one of the largest drainage systems on the North American continent.
- It is estimated that more than 200,000 barrels of oil pass through the Mississippi River each day.
- The river is home to over 300 species of fish and nearly 600 different kinds of birds.
- More than 500 million tons of cargo are carried annually on the river, making it one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world.
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Fun Facts About Mississippi River
Here are 22 Fun Facts About Mississippi River
1. The Mississippi River is the fourth longest river in the world, stretching over 2,300 miles from its source in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana.
The Mississippi River, an awe-inspiring aquatic behemoth, extends from north of Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico, a total distance of more than 2,300 miles. This legendary river ranks among the world’s fourth-longest.
It begins humbly as a narrow, shallow rivulet near Lake Itasca, curving through Wisconsin and Iowa, before morphing into a major, uncontrolled waterway in Missouri and onward to Arkansas. Its delta semi-fan shape defines its Louisiana connector to the sea at a series of state-open bays before emptying into the Gulf’s brilliant blue waters.
2. The river’s name is derived from the Ojibwe word “Misi-ziibi,” which means “Great River.”
The Mighty Mississippi River has a fascinating name. It derives from the Ojibwe language: “Misi-ziibi,” which translated literally means “Great River.”
This accurately describes what this waterway is: a symbol of strength and life’s journey. From its course near Lake Itasca in Minnesota all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, it mirrors the beauty of nature, helping to define America’s rich culture and vastness. The Mighty Mississippi instills in us awe, appreciation, and a connection to our vast history.
3. The Mississippi River is home to over 300 species of fish, including catfish, bass, and sturgeon.
The Mississippi River stretches 320 miles long and harbors over 300 species of fish—from catfish to bass, sturgeon, and much more. Condensing centuries of aquatic history into its murky depths, the river serves as a home for these creatures, who flourish despite the harsh Midwest winters that test their survival skills.
As a critical resource for numerous species and ecosystems in the United States, the Mississippi River continues to serve as an essential source of sustenance and refuge.
4. The Mississippi river is also home to many species of birds, including bald eagles, pelicans, and herons.
The Mississippi River’s many banks are home to a diverse range of biodiversity. Along with nourishment for more aquatic creatures than can be counted, there are also many species of birds flying through its skies.
Seeing a large number of bald eagles soaring over its open waters is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Pelicans look to add even more grandeur, acting as majestic ambassadors to a land that is as breathtaking as it is devoid of people.
Swooping within sight, majestic herons are hard at work on their foraging opportunities, which are managed by the depths of trees transitioning creek beds crossing flat landscapes.
5. The Mississippi River is an important transportation route, with barges carrying goods such as grain, coal, and petroleum up and down its length.
The Mississippi River is a massive artery for transportation. Meandering down the heart of North America, barges laden with bulk goods traverse across its illustrious waters.
Essential materials such as grain, coal, and petroleum are continually shipped up and down its storied length, promoting efficient goods exchange for many companies.
Boasting many ports between the Gulf of Mexico and Minnesota City, a variety of each cargo is imported or exported on any given day. In a larger sense, these shipments create business transactions that are vital in strengthening economic endeavors throughout the region.
6. The river is also a popular recreational destination, with people fishing, boating, and birdwatching along its banks.
The river is a beloved recreational haven, drawing visitors keen to take in its beauty and peacefulness. Here, one can access the joy of fishing at their leisure or stretch one’s sea legs with some boating.
In 2020, many spent a great deal of time taking solace from nature by birdwatching along the banks of this remarkable river. Those who experienced it doubtlessly relished the variety and richness of wildlife present there.
7. The Mississippi River has played a significant role in American history, serving as a transportation route for early settlers and playing a central role in the Civil War.
The mighty Mississippi River has dramatically impacted American history. Serving as an important transport route for early settlers, this winding body of water marked a major success in the ability of civilizations to work their path thousands of miles inland.
It has also had its fair share of tragedy, common in any great adventure story across the ages. Indeed, many battles during the Civil War were fought on the waters of the Mississippi, momentarily taking away individuals’ freedoms and forever impacting our nation.
8. The river is home to several important cities, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, and New Orleans.
Minneapolis has been an important city for centuries, thanks to its location neighboring the mighty Mississippi River. People traveled far and wide over the river for its natural resources, connecting cultures and enabling civilizations to grow to help drive commerce and investment.
And Minneapolis wasn’t alone: the river served as a home waterway not only for Minneapolis but also for renowned cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans. As populations swelled along the riverbanks, each port of call nurtured different aspects of life, unique culture was established, along with the local flair that makes those cities so iconic today.
9. The Mississippi River has the largest drainage basin in the United States, covering more than 1.2 million square miles.
The Mississippi River occupies a prominent spot in freshwater contributions throughout North America. It boasts the grand title of having the biggest drainage basin throughout all of the United States, spreading over an astonishing 1.2 million square miles of undiscovered land and thrills.
Taking up 41% of the whole tributary US territory, rivers only hold 5.4% more prominence than The Mississippi River’s vastness, keeping it in an extensive lead amongst other waterways around sister countries
10. The river is known for its strong current and numerous sandbars and islands, which can make navigation difficult.
The river’s current is renowned for its strength, with dozens of sandbars and islands surrounding it. The many obstacles in this environment create a daunting challenge for navigators.
Surmounting them requires experience, patience, and some well-calculated risks. Despite the challenging conditions, tour boats navigate these reefs with expert precision day after day. Rookie sailors often steer clear, knowing that the powerful gales can overpower their small crafts with ease.
11. The Mississippi River has the highest volume of any river in the United States, with an average flow of over 600,000 cubic feet per second.
The mighty Mississippi River is the largest river in the United States by volume. Its steady current carries, on average, over 600,000 cubic feet of water per second merrily toward its destination.
It’s incredible that such immense gushing can be navigated and crossed with relative ease by boats. As a result, trade between different states is often done on this river, with barges shipping goods to distant cities. The playful Mississippi is even able to power multiple hydroelectric dams along its path, compared to any other major river in America.
12. One of the fun facts about the Mississippi river is that the river is home to many species of reptiles, including snakes, alligators, and turtles.
The mighty river is home to a plethora of reptilian species, boasting astoundingly diverse wildlife. Snakes coil their way along the edges, keeping watch for unsuspecting prey—transitioning between murky waters and foliage.
The uncanny alligators basking on land are nothing short of breathtaking, providing an innate contrast to aquatic life beneath the surface.
13. The Mississippi River is home to many species of mammals, including beavers, muskrats, and river otters.
The majestic Mississippi River serves as a habitat for numerous species of mammals; beavers, with their iconic flat tails and sharp front teeth, take center stage to snare their suppers.
Muskrats expand on the river’s rich offering of life, as they lovingly tend to their abundant colonies and root through marshes in search of succulent reeds. The otter spices up the aquatic animal kingdom with its vigorous swimming antics and mischievous curiosity.
14. The river has a number of tributaries, including the Missouri River and the Ohio River.
The river is winding and plentiful, boasting many offshoots known as tributaries. Perhaps the most famous such tributaries are the Missouri River, which flows from Montana all the way to its confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Louis, and the Ohio River, bustling wildly from Pennsylvania to its merge with the majestic Mississippi just downstream of Cairo, Illinois.
15. The Mississippi River is home to many species of amphibians, including frogs and salamanders.
Frequent inhabitants of the ecosystem include frogs, toads, and salamanders, which can be found basking under stones within the riverbed. Various other types of amphibians share space along the banks as they traverse over surfaces with slippery toes while making high-pitched chirps and croaks.
The dense middle of the river is home to numerous species like American bullfrogs, who sneak in with their piercing calls echoing throughout river transects filled with hidden secrets. Salamanders on the opposite end furiously roam through their muddy environment, feasting on bugs while catching patches of indirect sunlight.
16. The river is home to many species of insects, including dragon flies, damsel flies, and may flies.
The river ecosystem is alive with the presence of many insect species, each playing vital roles in its environment. Dragonflies hover over the river, gracefully catching prey in midair.
Similarly, damselflies silently patrol their feeding grounds along rippling waters’ edges. Not to be left out, mayflies make an appearance in densely populated swarms over the surface of the water. All three order families present play critical roles in maintaining a healthy river.
17. The Mississippi River has several large reservoirs along its length, including Lake Itasca, Lake Pepin, and Lake Arkansas.
The Mississippi River is one of the most iconic water systems in the US, consisting of incredible bodies of water. Along its length are several large reservoirs, including the ancient Lake Itasca that acts as the river’s traditional source.
Lake Pepin, which is over twenty miles wide, is located further downstream. Continuing down to Arkansas, fishermen enjoy their catches at the 25,000-acre surface area of Lake Arkansas.
18. The river is home to many species of plants, including willows, cottonwoods, and sycamores.
The river is an oasis for different species of plants. Willows, cottonwoods, and sycamores abound here, creating a green mecca amidst the rolling hills and skipping stones.
It is in many ways a testament to nature’s bounty; the flourishing foliage provides much-needed food and shelter to the numerous creatures that flock here. In fact, it has become such a popular home that the variety of plantations found along its shore lends more to its beauty each year. It is truly a blessing to be surrounded by so much bounty.
19. The Mississippi River has been the site of several major floods over the years, with the Great Flood of 1927 causing widespread damage and loss of life.
The mighty Mississippi River has been no stranger to disaster. Over the years, numerous major floods have occurred, some of which changed the course of history.
The most memorable of these was the Great Flood of 1927, a devastating disaster that left extraordinary destruction in its wake. Trees were uprooted and fields were washed away; houses were submerged under several feet of rainwater.
Caught off guard by its severity, hundreds of people perished and many more suffered financial losses due to the flood’s powerful current.
20. The Mississippi River is home to the world’s largest riverboat festival, the Great River Raft Race.
Every year, the Mississippi River plays host to a huge festival that draws people from all over the world: the Great River Raft Race. This riverboat cavalcade has become renowned thanks to its wide variety of events and festivities.
Attendees have witnessed daredevil acts, heard folk musicians sing classic tunes, tasted delicious local snacks, and explored wild river rapids as boat racers competed in styles as varied as kayaking and original freshwater punting.
Spectators reveled in the wild, sweeping views along the banks of this legendary runoff source before convening for an evening of dancing under starry skies.
21. The Mississippi River is home to the world’s largest population of American white pelicans.
The majestic Mississippi is home to thousands of captivating species of wildlife, among them the American white pelican. Native to the Gulf Coast and westward, the white pelican graces the skies over this iconic river, which is home to the largest population of its kind in the world.
These enchanting birds take flight as far north as southern Canada during their migration season, but always return each year to make their home on America’s most storied and powerful waterway that continues connecting us all to one another.
22. The Mississippi River is a major source of drinking water for millions of people in the United States.
The Mississippi River is one of the most crucial sources of drinking water in the United States. Spanning over 2,340 miles, it snakes across 31 states and supplies valuable fresh water to millions of people.
From its Midwestern beginning in Minnesota to its final destination as Gulf waters off Louisiana shores, the USA’s largest river acts like a never-ending tap for many municipalities across the country, including major cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans.
This expansive body of freshening running through much of America’s heartland teeming with surrounding wildlife has become an invaluable growing source of clean water for America’s populace.
The Mississippi River is a fascinating and beautiful river with many fun facts to explore. From its history of floods to the world’s largest population of American white pelicans, there are so many interesting stories associated with this mighty body of water.
Not only that, but it also serves as an important source of drinking water for millions across the United States. Whether you’re looking for fun facts about the Mississippi river or want to learn more about its importance in our nation’s infrastructure, this remarkable river has much to offer those who take time out to appreciate all it has done over the years.
FAQs : Fun Facts About Mississippi River
- Why is the Mississippi river so low 2022?
The Mississippi River is currently running low due to a combination of factors, including the lack of rain in early 2021 that caused most of the Midwest to enter a state of moderate drought, lower-than-average snowfall during the winter months, and accelerated melting from spring snowpacks. Additionally, dams along the river are managed for various purposes such as irrigation and power generation which can reduce water levels.
- Is the Mississippi river going dry?
It is highly unlikely that the Mississippi River will completely dry up. The Mississippi River is a major waterway that is fed by a large drainage basin covering over 1.2 million square miles. It is also connected to a number of other rivers and waterways, which contribute to its flow. While the water levels of the Mississippi River can fluctuate due to a variety of factors, such as drought, heavy rainfall, and human activities, it is not expected to completely dry up.
- Why does the Mississippi river not mix with the ocean?
The Mississippi River does mix with the ocean, but the mixing is not immediately visible due to the difference in the density and salinity of the water. The Mississippi River carries a large volume of fresh water from its drainage basin, which is relatively low in salt content compared to the saltwater of the Gulf of Mexico. When the fresh water of the Mississippi River meets the saltwater of the Gulf of Mexico, it forms a layer at the surface that is less dense than the saltwater below it.
- Can you survive swimming in the Mississippi river?
Swimming in the Mississippi River can be dangerous due to the strong currents, unpredictable weather conditions, and potential hazards such as debris and submerged objects. It is important to be cautious and avoid swimming in the Mississippi River unless you are a strong swimmer and have received proper training and supervision. It is also important to be aware of local laws and regulations regarding swimming in the river, as some areas may be restricted or prohibited for safety reasons.
- How deep is the Mississippi river?
The depth of the Mississippi River varies along its length, depending on a variety of factors such as the location, the time of year, and the water levels. In general, the Mississippi River is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 20 feet. However, there are some deeper sections of the river, with some areas reaching depths of up to 100 feet or more. The deepest part of the Mississippi River, however, is located near the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Here, the river reaches a maximum depth of about 200 feet.