Oct 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Up and Down the Mighty Mississippi

The “Mighty Mississippi” has a long long history.  I’ve walked across the source of the Mississippi in northern Minnesota and viewed its wide wide mouth in Louisiana.  While it is long (3,902 miles) it ranks fourth in the world (and tenth largest) after the Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze in China. The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the US, this river rises in Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi’s watershed drains all in Canada.

The Mississippi runs through 10 states, which are Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Rising at an elevation of 1,463 ft in Lake Itasca, Minn., the Mississippi flows through several glacial lakes to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, where it passes over a series of rapids and is joined by the Minnesota River.  After this confluence, the Mississippi is fringed by 200-300-ft bluffs on both sides. Between Minneapolis and Saint Louis, the most important tributaries are the Illinois, Chippewa, Black, Wisconsin, Saint Croix, Iowa, Des Moines, and Rock rivers, some of which drain the nation’s most fertile agricultural areas (carries an average of 436 tons each day; over a year about 159 million tons.). The Missouri River, draining the Great Plains to the west, joins the Mississippi at Saint Louis. It is the longest tributary, and constitutes more than 40% of the Mississippi system drainage area, while furnishing about 20% of the total discharge. At Cairo, Ill., the Mississippi is joined from the east by the Ohio River.

Travel Resources for the Mississippi

Good travel resources exist for learning what to see and do along the Mississippi.  It is 3 feet deep in Minnesota and over 200 feet deep at its exit. Tom Sawyer can tell you about travel on the Mississippi. As you travel up or down the Mississippi look for these four museums that you will find all along its path.

Of course Minnesota take great pride in the fact the river’s source starts there in the “Land of Sky Blue Waters.” Without the Mississippi River, Minneapolis and Saint Paul would never have been born. Saint Paul began because of river shipping, as it was located (in the 1800s) at the northern most spot for practical navigation. The River has changed considerably since the old steamboat days; particularly with the addition of a system of 29 locks and dams between Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Wildlife and Commerce Depend on the River

Two hundred sixty species of fish and 60% of all bird species in North America use the river basin as their migratory flyway. In addition, there are 38 species of mussel, 50 species of mammals and 145 species of amphibians and reptiles. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing several times on the Mississippi both on the ice and below one of the many great dams that provide great walleye and northern pike.

And commerce! Wow… The fertile Mississippi River valley generates over $7 billion in agricultural and forest products and $29 million in manufactured goods per year. Waterfowl hunting in the flyway is valued at $58 million per year and sport fishing at over $100 million. International visitors spend an estimated $2.6 billion each year throughout the ten river states, generating more than 53,000 jobs.

River cities and towns not only provide unique features and resources for people, but also many festivals and other great forms of entertainment. The Mississippi River is the perfect location to host year-round festivals and activities for all ages, with distinctive celebrations for each season. That’s a lot of facts Seniors, but I leave you with a few more including photos & multimedia, history & culture and planning for your visit Up and Down the “Mighty Miss.”  jeb

Tags: , , ,

Leave a comment »

  1. […] in the region… You will probably be driving so consider the 28-mile drive through historic French settlements along the Mississippi River with a side trip to picturesque sandstone outcrops and […]

  2. […] grew up in eastern Iowa not all that far from the Mississippi River. I knew some river rats personally. That’s not much of a complement, but they themselves use […]

  3. […] Called “The Granite City”, gardens and parks rank very high with residents and visitors. Munsinger, Clemens and Riverside Park are great places for senior visitors to unwind. St. Cloud State University, Minnesota’s second-largest university, is between downtown and the Beaver Islands that form a maze for a two-mile stretch of the Mississippi. […]

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.