Mississippi River Facts
- The magnificent creation of natural geological forces remains best known around the world by the name of the Mississippi River. But that’s just its english language name. Various local Indigenous Peoples knew the mighty flow by a variety of other titles.
- The Dakota knew it as Haha Wakpa, which roughly translates as river of the falls. The name by which the Choctaw and Chickasaw People knew it, however, was Occochappo, when translated. Meanwhile, the Ojibwe knew this amazing river by the term Messipi.
- Ironically, its english language name actually derives from an early French rendering of its title in the native tongue of yet another local tribe. In this case, the Algonguin language used the moniker Misi-ziibi. That original term aptly meant Great River.
- Regardless of which of these titles, or still others, it’s called, it stands out among other such features. The first known non-native to view this miracle of Nature bore the name of Hernando de Soto. Records show the Spanish explorer spotted the river in 1542.
- The numerous Nations of Native Americans native to the region knew of it for untold centuries prior to this, though. Numerous archaeological discoveries prove this beyond doubt. They utilized and depended on its mighty waters for a multitude of reasons.
- Its length remains a matter of which standard one uses. That’s because, as is often the case when measuring the length of rivers, there’s the traditional source and the longest stream source. Using the latter, the Mississippi River is the fourth-longest on earth.
Mississippi River Physical Description
The aptly-named mighty Mississippi River holds a special place of distinction in the hearts, minds, and culture of its region. Yet, while wholly deserved, its sheer beauty isn’t the only reason for that appreciation. That’s true since Nature clearly outdid itself here.
This flow also boasts some astounding physical characteristics. Perhaps chief among them, is its incredible length. From its immediate point of origin, it measures an impressive 2,340 mi (3,766 km). Yet, its longest steam source equals a total distance of 3,710 mi (5,971 km).
Despite these mind-numbing statistics, however, it’s quite shallow in depth. At its starting point, it’s only 3 ft (0.9 m) deep! Over the course of its length, though, this naturally varies significantly. But at its deepest, the remarkable river’s depth only reaches 200 ft (61 m).
It also flows mainly south, and spawns numerous tributaries. Given this fact, its watersheds drain almost 65% of the country in which it lies. This provides it with yet another impressive statistic. Due to this situation, it ranks as the thirteenth largest river in terms of discharge.
The very nature of the Mississippi River tends to roughly divide it into three distinct sections. These naturally bear the names of the Upper, Middle, and Lower. Interestingly, its course has changed several times throughout history due to geological factors.
Mississippi River Location, Formation, and Ecology
The mighty Mississippi River formed in a region of the globe known throughout the world for its abundance of geological marvels. In fact, that exact region will no doubt come as no surprise to many of you. That’s because it resides in a specific portion of North America.
There, its main body lies entirely within the confines of the United States. Given the vastness of its watershed, though, a tiny portion of that appears in two provinces of Canada. The river itself comes to an end in the Mississippi River Delta, where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
Evidence indicates that this majestic waterflow formed approximately 70 million years ago. Since them, it’s held many different forms and flowed in various directions. Its current state largely occurred due to the actions of the Laurentide Ice Sheet of the last ice age.
The melting of the vast quantities of water from this carved out a path through the rich sediment that had been deposited. Currently, its base flow comes from Lake Itasca, in Minnesota. Other rivers also flow into it, from their origins, adding their waters to the body.
The beautiful Mississippi River additionally serves as home to an incredible array of fauna. A present total of 375 known species of fish appear within its confines. That includes such animals as sturgeon, gar, bass, crappie, catfish, northern pike, paddlefish, and walleye.
Many other animals also call its waters hone, though. The American Alligator represents the largest of these, but many others join it. Another large reptile present, however, is the Alligator Snapping Turtle. Crayfish, aquatic amphibians, and other turtles live there too.