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Interesting Facts And History On The Mississippi River.

1235 words - 5 pages

The MISSISSIPPI RIVERThe father of waters, the Mississippi River, is one of the longest in the world. According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, if it is measured from the Upper Red Rock Reservoir which leads to its longest branch, the Missouri the Mississippi flows 3,658 miles to the Head of Passes in the delta. From Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Passes the Mississippi measures 2,550 miles. The upper Mississippi River is 1,401 miles long. The drainage basin extends from western Pennsylvania to Idaho, embraces two fifths of the continental United States, not including Alaska. It is third in size only to the Amazon and Congo River basins. The greater part of this vast region is enormously fertile, which makes the Mississippi Valley an agricultural empire second to none.The Little Stream Becomes a Great RiverAs it issues from the cool clear waters of Lake Itasca, the Mississippi is only a little stream, 10 or 12 feet wide, and about two feet deep. For a time it rushes north, over rapids and around boulders, with reeds, flags, and water grass growing profusely on its banks and in its crystal waters. After much twisting and turning, it settles into its southeasterly flow. Tributaries, often as large as the river itself, join the Mississippi, swelling it to a width of 1,200 feet at St. Anthony Falls. Here it descends about 65 feet in three quarters of a mile, forming rapids, in the midst of which rears a precipice 18 feet high. Over this the river once plunged in a beautiful cataract. Now this water power has been used to build up the manufacturing interests of Minneapolis.Southward the banks of the stream rise in rocky bluffs, sometimes as high as 500 feet, and continue almost to the junction of the Ohio River. The distance between the two lines of bluffs varies from three to eight miles, and the river wanders back and forth between them sometimes touching one side, sometimes the other. Along most of the way the centuries have built up gentle slopes at the foot of these bluffs, covered with trees and grass to the water's edge; but here and there the cliffs rise straight up from the water in great towering palisades of rugged beauty. Where the Chippewa River flows into the Mississippi, 77 miles below St. Paul, the river spreads over the entire valley, forming Lake Pepin, 25 miles long and two to three miles wide.The Ancient River and the Vanished SeaAt Cape Girardeau, 52 miles above the mouth of the Ohio, the bluffs cease and the great alluvial valley, which the river has built, begins. Long ago an ancient gulf extended up as far as the lower edge of the bluffs. The Mississippi poured its silt into this gulf, gradually filling it and building a vast fertile valley four times as large as that of the Nile. In the past 200 years, the river has extended the land area only a few miles, so the task of building this huge valley must have required long ages.In the lower bottomlands of the Mississippi the elevation of the surrounding country is...

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