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Old Man River, The Great Mississippi

Updated on May 23, 2020

Mississippi River, The Beginning and It's Contributories

Mississippi River and Conteibutories
Mississippi River and Conteibutories
Lake Itasca, The Beginning
Lake Itasca, The Beginning

The Great Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is ranked as the fourth-longest in the world and ranked 15th for discharge. Starting as a trickle from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and continuing 2384 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ojibwe Indians called it Omashkoozo-zaag'igan, or Elk Lake. When Hernando de Soto first sighted it near present-day Memphis, Tn and called it "Rio del Espiritu Santo, meaning "The Holy Spirit".

It would be another hundred years later when Jacque Marquette and Louis Joliet would begin exploring the river. By 1716, Fort Rosalie would be built by the French using Natchez natives as builders. This would be the first white settlement, now called Natchez.

Fort Rosalie, Natchez and the Rebellion

Ft. Rosalie
Ft. Rosalie
1729Natchez Rebellion
1729Natchez Rebellion

First White Settlement

In 1729, after years of wars and abusing the Native Natchez Indians, a revolt broke out after the French demanded their land. The Natchez were ultimately defeated, and many were sold as slaves in the West indies. Some escaped and merged into other tribes. And so ao Native American people were annihilated.

1812 Steamboat New Orleans

Steamboat New Orleans
Steamboat New Orleans

Coming of the Steamboats

By the 19th century, steamboats became the norm for travel up and down the Mississippi River. Before the steamboats, a trip could take four months from Louisville to New Orleans. Finally, by 1838, it would only take six days.

Today, the top three categories are manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. It is estimated that $400 billion is from commerce on the Mississippi River.

The Great Flood of 1927

Mississipi Flood Map
Mississipi Flood Map
Devastation of Flood
Devastation of Flood

Mississippi Floods

The might Mississippi has flooded for years, costing millions in damages, loss of life, loss of agriculture, and displacement of thousands.

Recorded as the most destructive flood in the U.S., the Great Flood of 1927 destroyed over 27,000 miles, leaving depths in some areas of 39 feet deep. This flood lasted some 153 days and costing one billion in losses. It left 700,000 homeless and over 500 dead.

So many were homeless that President Herbert Hoover set up refugee camps or "tent cities" as they were called. Some camps were good and some bad, with discrimination prevalent between whites and African Americans who have suffered mistreatment.

Although Hoover vowed to correct this problem, he neglected to do so. As a result, Hoover lost the election in 1932. And so The Great Migration began as the African Americans fled north and midwest.

After the 1927 flood, the Flood Control Act was created, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was tasked with finding ways to control the Mississippi. Many of the early levees were nothing more than earthen mounds, and some farmers were required to build their levees.

Today, some say the levees create a bigger problem with flooding.

Great River Road Scenic Highway

Great River Road Scenic Highway
Great River Road Scenic Highway

Great River Road Scenic Trip

The Great River Scenic Trip is a 2069 Mile trip following the course of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

It passes through ten states and hundreds of river towns. It is the longest scenic byway of America. If one drives straight through, it takes about 36 hours, but most travelers take anywhere from four to ten days.

The route is easy to follow by way of the Green Pilot's Wheel marking the route.

An app is available to download from This site has maps, state parks, dams, historic sites, and museums listed.

There are also cruises booked through Viking Cruises, 1-877-705-7631, and specific cruises for those over 50 at road scholar, 1-877-643-1253.

Canoeing Down the Mississippi River

Steve Eckelkamp and Kirk Millhonet
Steve Eckelkamp and Kirk Millhonet

1980 Canoe Trip down the Mississippi River

In 1980, Steve Eckelkamp and Kirk Millhonet set off for a grueling canoe trip traveling the length of the Mississippi River. The journey would be dangerous, but these two were determined and adventurous. They would encounter treacherous currents, barges in the dark, tree stumps and logs, debris that could cause the canoe to turn over.

They set the record for their trip, making it in 35 days, 11 hours, and 27 minutes. But in 2018, Bob Bradford and Clark Eid broke the record completing their journey in 18 days, 4 hours, and 51 minutes.


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