Newspaper Sections

Special Series


About SSFP

Simpson Street Free Press

Learn About the Mississippi, One of the Longest U.S. Rivers

When people imagine rivers, they typically think of famous ones like the Nile or Amazon Rivers. However, one of the world's largest river systems runs right along Wisconsin: the Mississippi River. It significantly impacts the United States and its population and continues to show its benefits to humanity every day.

Flowing 2,350 miles from Lake Itasca, the Mississippi River is one of the two longest rivers in North America. Some even consider it the third-longest river system in the world. The reported length of the river may increase or decrease depending on changes in the landscape, time of year, and precipitation. The Mississippi River can reach a pretty surprising width of 11 miles. The surface speed average is 1.2 miles per hour, half as fast as an average walking speed. The river's water speed may vary depending on where you are in the United States. For example, the surface speed in New Orleans increases to three miles per hour. Even though the water speed changes in certain places, all the water leads to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River is used for transportation and to supply water to about 50 cities, serving 10 million people. It provides 92% of the U.S. agricultural exports. 60% of American exported grain goes through the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans; around 500 million tons of goods are shipped from the South Port of Louisiana. Other goods transported on the river include petroleum, iron, steel, rubber, wood, and coal.

The Mississippi River is home to a quarter of all fish species in North America. Almost half the nation's waterfowl birds migrate along the Mississippi River during the spring and all the way to fall. A little-known fact is that many mussels are found in the lower part of the Mississippi. Most livestock and hogs in the U.S. also live in the Mississippi River Basin. More than 50 mammal species and 145 amphibians and reptiles live on the upper part of the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River is vital to millions of people. Without it, the United States would be significantly different.

[Source: National Park Service]

Loading Comments...