Among other world rivers how does it compare? Either of two new routes—through the Atchafalaya Basin or through Lake Pontchartrain—might become the Mississippi's main channel if flood-control structures are overtopped or heavily damaged during a severe flood.[91][92][93][94][95]. The Corps later also began excavating the Rock Island Rapids. The United States then secured effective control of the river when it bought the Louisiana Territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007. Below is a general overview of selected Mississippi bridges that have notable engineering or landmark significance, with their cities or locations. Because of substantial growth of cities and the larger ships and barges that replaced steamboats, the first decades of the 20th century saw the construction of massive engineering works such as levees, locks and dams, often built in combination. However, the Locks were closed in 2015 to control the spread of invasive Asian carp, making Minneapolis once again the site of the head of navigation of the river. [24], By the time the Upper Mississippi reaches Saint Paul, Minnesota, below Lock and Dam No. It also serves to protect the St. Louis city water intakes during times of low water. Among the fish species in the basin are numerous endemics, as well as relicts such as paddlefish, sturgeon, gar and bowfin. We'll start at the headwaters near Big Stone Lake (1) and continue on to the confluence with the Mississippi River near St. Paul, Minnesota (11). Steamboat transport remained a viable industry, both in terms of passengers and freight until the end of the first decade of the 20th century. The New Madrid Seismic Zone, along the Mississippi River near New Madrid, Missouri, between Memphis and St. Louis, is related to an aulacogen (failed rift) that formed at the same time as the Gulf of Mexico. 7, near La Crosse, Wisconsin, is more than 4 miles (6.4 km) wide. The task of maintaining a navigation channel is the responsibility of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which was established in 1802. [93] While the risk of such a diversion is present during any major flood event, such a change has so far been prevented by active human intervention involving the construction, maintenance, and operation of various levees, spillways, and other control structures by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com. In 1962 and 1963, industrial accidents spilled 3.5 million US gallons (13,000 m3) of soybean oil into the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The book was published first in serial form in Harper's Weekly in seven parts in 1875. A period of more isolated communities followed, and agriculture introduced from Mesoamerica based on the Three Sisters (maize, beans and squash) gradually came to dominate. The basin covers more than 1,245,000 square miles (3,220,000 km2), including all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. In this section, the Mississippi flows for approximately 664 miles until it reaches the state of Missouri. The Mississippi River has the world's fourth-largest drainage basin ("watershed" or "catchment"). At the time of first contact with Europeans, Cahokia and many other Mississippian cities had dispersed, and archaeological finds attest to increased social stress.[66][67][68]. Founded as a French colonial community, it later became the capital of the Illinois Territory and was the first state capital of Illinois until 1819. The current form of the Mississippi River basin was largely shaped by the Laurentide Ice Sheet of the most recent Ice Age. [79] This both accelerated the development, and forever changed the ecology of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes. This resulted in widespread shortages, high prices, and rationing of coal in January and February.[84]. U.S. government scientists determined in the 1950s that the Mississippi River was starting to switch to the Atchafalaya River channel because of its much steeper path to the Gulf of Mexico. After the completion of the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in 1963, the river's head of navigation moved upstream, to the Coon Rapids Dam. It joins the Ohio and Missouri River before ending in the Gulf of Mexico. In the 18th century, the river was the primary western boundary of the young United States, and since the country's expansion westward, the Mississippi River has been widely considered a convenient if approximate dividing line between the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States, and the Western United States. Where Does The Mississippi River Begin? Then, around 500 years ago, the Mississippi meandered into the Red River and overwhelmed it. The second section of the Upper Mississippi is a navigable channel which was formed due to the presence of human-made lakes in the region. The second-longest river in the U.S. and the fourth longest in the world, the Mississippi River gets its start at Lake Itasca and flows through nine other states, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. Dam 26 at Alton, Illinois, which had structural problems, was replaced by the Mel Price Lock and Dam in 1990. By 1866, it had become evident that excavation was impractical, and it was decided to build a canal around the Des Moines Rapids. In the Treaty of 1818, the U.S. and Great Britain agreed to fix the border running from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains along the 49th parallel north. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Upper Mississippi runs from its headwaters to its confluence with the Missouri River at St. Louis, Missouri. [101] Ralph Samuelson of Lake City, Minnesota, created and refined his skiing technique in late June and early July 1922. The Mississippi River begins at Lake Itasca, a small glacial lake in northern Minnesota, and flows southward for about 2,350 miles (3,782 km) until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi is referred to as the Lower Mississippi for nearly a thousand miles from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. [36] Although it is the fifth-largest river in the world by volume, this flow is a small fraction of the output of the Amazon, which moves nearly 7 million cubic feet per second (200,000 m3/s) during wet seasons. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.[17][18]. The Upper Mississippi is largely a multi-thread stream with many bars and islands. The Mississippi covers a distance of nearly 2,320 miles as it flows from Lake Itasca in the state of Minnesota to its mouth at its delta which is situated within the Gulf of Mexico. Steamers worked the entire route from the trickles of Montana, to the Ohio River; down the Missouri and Tennessee, to the main channel of the Mississippi. This is exemplified by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the phrase "Trans-Mississippi" as used in the name of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. It begins on the Canadian Shield (mostly gneiss and marble), and then, after Carleton Place, flows through limestone and clay plains. 100 lieues françoises [= 0m. Between Saint Louis, Missouri, where the Missouri River joins and Cairo, Illinois, the depth averages 30 feet (9 m). ", This page was last edited on 18 December 2020, at 23:20. The channel project was complete when the Moline Lock, which bypassed the Rock Island Rapids, opened in 1907. The Red River used to run all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, running parallel to the Mississippi River. The dams make the river deeper and wider but do not stop it. Native Americans have lived along the Mississippi River and its tributaries for thousands of years. The Upper Mississippi encompasses the river from its source to the point where it links up with the Missouri River, while the Middle Mississippi begins after the confluence with the Missouri River until it reaches the Ohio River. The Mississippi is also distinct since it provides habitat to more than 300 different species of fish. October 14, 2015. The Old River Control Structure, between the present Mississippi River channel and the Atchafalaya Basin, sits at the normal water elevation and is ordinarily used to divert 30% of the Mississippi's flow to the Atchafalaya River. Chain of Rocks Lock (Lock and Dam No. Eventually the Atchafalaya River would capture the Mississippi River and become its main channel to the Gulf of Mexico, leaving New Orleans on a side channel. The big one lies out there somewhere—when the structures can't release all the floodwaters and the levee is going to have to give way. Two portions of the Mississippi were designated as American Heritage Rivers in 1997: the lower portion around Louisiana and Tennessee, and the upper portion around Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Where does it start and end? The second canal, in addition to shipping, also allowed Chicago to address specific health issues (typhoid fever, cholera and other waterborne diseases) by sending its waste down the Illinois and Mississippi river systems rather than polluting its water source of Lake Michigan. Before the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the Corps's primary strategy was to close off as many side channels as possible to increase the flow in the main river. [35], The Mississippi River discharges at an annual average rate of between 200 and 700 thousand cubic feet per second (6,000 and 20,000 m3/s). Frits van der Leeden, Fred L. Troise, David Keith Todd: "Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville" (bio), webpage from. Brian Peterson – Star Tribune Gallery: As water flows out of Lake Itasca in northwest Minnesota, the Mississippi River begins a 2,552 mile journey to … Dressé sur un grand nombre de mémoires entre autres sur ceux de M. Le Maire / par Guillaume Delisle de l'Académie Royale des Sciences", "Le cours du Mississipi ou de St Louis, fameuse rivière... aux environs de laquelle se trouve le pays appellé Louisiane / dressée... par N. de Fer", "Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor", "Plan of New Orleans the Capital of Louisiana; With the Disposition of Its Quarters and Canals as They Have Been Traced by Mr. de la Tour in the Year 1720", "Southeast Missouri State University: The Big Freeze, 1918–1919", "Paddling the Mississippi River to Benefit the Audubon Society", "Controlling the Mighty Mississippi's path to the sea", "Mississippi Rising: Apocalypse Now? It spanned the river between the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. The History Of The Mississippi River In modern times, the Mississippi River has also played a vital role in the lives of communities around the river. After around 800 AD there arose an advanced agricultural society today referred to as the Mississippian culture, with evidence of highly stratified complex chiefdoms and large population centers. The height of these bluffs decreases to the south of Dubuque, though they are still significant through Savanna, Illinois. Iowa City: University Of Iowa Press, 2004. At 2,350 miles long, it is the third-longest river in North America. This 49-foot (15 m) drop is the largest of all the Mississippi River locks and dams. For its first 650 miles, it meanders through Minnesota's stately pine forests, iron ranges and a deep valley, as well as through the heart of the Twin Cities. During the melt, giant glacial rivers found drainage paths into the Mississippi watershed, creating such features as the Minnesota River, James River, and Milk River valleys. Its maiden voyage occurred during the series of New Madrid earthquakes in 1811–12. c. 800 BC: The Mississippi diverted further east. Seventy-eight passengers and crew died; only eighteen survived the accident. When white American settlers took over the region, they found their steamboats took a long time to go through this messy confluence of rivers, so a riverboat captain name… In other words, while Lake Itasca is the Mississippi’s cultural source, Duffield makes a case that the Minnesota River and the tiny town of Veblen, S.D., is the river’s geologic source. By Joyce Chepkemoi on November 13 2018 in Environment. Two weeks after the bridge opened, the steamboat Effie Afton rammed part of the bridge, setting it on fire. When Louis Jolliet explored the Mississippi Valley in the 17th century, natives guided him to a quicker way to return to French Canada via the Illinois River. Everything has to start somewhere, and the Mississippi River starts in Itasca State Park in Minnesota. 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