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The Mighty Mississippi -- How Much River Do You Know?

Sep 3, 2008
The Mississippi River is the most important river in North America. Most people understand why. Between the water it supplies and its use as a water transportation thoroughfare from the north into the Gulf and out to sea, it's no wonder people call it the "Mighty Mississippi".

Most people know how ancient the river is. It has forged its way through the continent willing other major rivers into its watery whispers, claiming their water as its own. It has shifted, changed course, and carved new pathways around glaciers, through earthquakes and blockages, amidst flooding surges, and throughout time.

Its persistence, its might, its ancient history; its simple elemental being has touched millennia of humans, animals, plants, and earth. Its timelessness and spirit have attempted to be told through countless tales, but seeing Ol' Man River is an experience words and pictures can't completely capture.

Some Great River Facts You May Not Know

The Father of Waters meanders all around its expansive floodplain taking 1,700 miles of twists, turns, and bows to complete its trip. A drop of rain plunging into Lake Itasca, the Big River's origin, will take 90 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico.

Each flood changes the face of the Mississippi River making its exact length impossible to measure but estimates are over 2,350 miles from its origin to the Gulf. The Great River and its tributaries drains 41 percent of North American waters -- a total of 1.2 to 1.8 million square miles over 31 states and two Canadian provinces.

The Gathering of Waters forms the third largest drainage basin in the world. Its system of 29 dams and locks extends for 669 miles between Minneapolis and Granite City, IL.

The depth of the Mississippi River ranges from as little as three feet at its Minnesotan headwaters to 200 feet between New Orleans' Algiers Point and Governor Nicholls Wharf. Drinking water for more than 18 million people are supplied by Ol' Miss and her tributaries.

Three hundred and twenty six species of North American birds -- that's 60 percent -- use the Mississippi River Basin for their migratory air routes. There are about 100 documented species of mussels, 145 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 50 species of mammals that call the Mississippi their homes.

Hannibal, Missouri is home to the infamous "Unsinkable" Molly Brown and the outspoken author Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Mark Twain called the area of the Mississippi that flows both east and west between Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois, known as the "Quad Cities", the Land of the Sunsets.

Water skiing was invented on the Mississippi River in 1922, in a wide part called Lake Pepin, between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Upper Mississippi alone has over 600 water recreational sites.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in New Orleans is the world's longest over-water highway bridge at 24 miles long. One of the great geologic oddities of the world is found at Crowley's Ridge in eastern Arkansas -- the Delta's only "highlands". Only one other comparable land form in the world and exists in Siberia.

Illinois Borders

Though the Mississippi River carves the borders for ten states, Illinois heritage has blossomed and grown from this almost omnipotent river. Though the river's actual real estate is constantly changing, people have been building, living, and prospering from the river's presence and ocean-like continuity since humankind existed.

Whether you are a seasoned Illinoian, fresh Illinois resident, or looking to the Land of Lincoln to be your next home, take the time to discover this potent river and all of its Mississippi River lore.
About the Author
Looking for an Illinois home or Illinois Realtor? Let RE/MAX (http://www.illinoisproperty.com) guide you through Illinois. To find out more about our Illinois Homes, let RE/MAX walk you through a host of real estate choices. Art Gib is a freelance writer.
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