Was this the worst flood of the Mississippi River since European colonization of North America? The Lower Mississippi River: The Flow of Trade: One of the World's Most Extensive Waterways, the Mississippi River Occupies a Near-Mythical Role in the National Psyche. The Mississippi River has played an essential role particularly in the history of several Native American communities. After Union forces captured Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln saw the emancipated river as a symbol of a nation unified: “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea,” he wrote. California Do Not Sell My Info Blum has detailed how the waterway grew as it added tributaries: the Platte, Arkansas and Tennessee rivers by the late Paleocene, then the Red River by the Oligocene. Advertising Notice In modern times, the Mississippi River has also played … Mississippi River History. So, as an exercise in humility, the next time you happen to stand on the banks of this mighty river, take a moment to quietly applaud its muddy waters, and recognize the rich contribution that's made it an artery to the very heart of this great nation of ours. Still, 70 million years ago the Mississippi was nowhere near as large as it would become. The answer is a solid “maybe.” Its a reason to pay a toll. The history of the state of Mississippi extends to thousands of years of indigenous peoples. This article is a selection from the September issue of Smithsonian magazine. Flowing entirely in the United States (though its drainage basin reaches into Canada), it rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,530 miles (4,070 km) to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. Check out the links below and tell 'em the guys at 'Experience New Orleans' sent ya! A Brief History. The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest drainage system in North America. To the Native American peoples of the river, the Mississippi was both highway and larder. That disaster also ushered in an era of unprecedented public works, as the federal government sought to remake the river into a predictable route for moving bulk necessities like corn and coal. But in 2018, Potter-McIntyre and her team concluded, based on the age of zircon fragments they excavated from sandstone in southern Illinois, that the river began flowing much earlier—some 70 million years ago. History of the Mississippi River Delta. Because of the way in which the land forms a kind of bowl-shape around the river, 40% of the moisture that lands on the 48 joined (contiguous) states ends up in the Mississippi! In the past, cities on the river haven't been s fortunate. The former Mississippi River valley was later claimed by the Illinois River as the glaciers retreated. The first Europeans to ever set eyes on the river were Hernando De Soto and his group of explorers in 1541. The western portion was eventually purchased by the United States in 1803, resulting in the largest real estate transaction in human history - The Louisiana Purchase. The river’s famed fluctuations have shaped American urbanization, too. The MISSISSIPPI RIVER The father of waters, the Mississippi River, is one of the longest in the world. Other pollutants such as garbage waste and chemicals were being dumped into the river. Davis Island, located 20 miles southwest of Vicksburg, MS consists of 30,000 acres.Formerly a peninsula bounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, a shift in the river cut it off from the mainland in 1867. Scientists call that gap the Mississippi Embayment, but the rest of us know it as the Mississippi Delta, the vast flood plain that stretches from southern Missouri to northern Louisiana. For some, it was their place of … Louisiana Goes Back to a Modified Stage 2, Commander’s Palace Has A New Executive Chef, Here’s What’s Up Down Here with Covid Restrictions, We Believe: Gray Line's Ghost Tour Is Spooky Fun, Ten Trippy Horror Films & TV Shows Set in New Orleans, Yum! It is about 2,350 miles long. In 1682, a Frenchman by the name of Robert de La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi and claimed the entire valley in the name of France. The confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota river is a place where cultures converged in the Twin Cities area. So the river’s larger-than-life role in culture was perhaps inevitable. Now it appears that the Mississippi is far older than Le Page thought, and it used to be far bigger than the Ojibwe could have imagined. History of Old River . Soto and his group of over 200 men traveled from what is now modern day Tampa, Florida in the southeastern direction in the hope of discovering treasures. |. Privacy Statement The Mississippi has been very important for transportation in the history of the United States. In fact, virtually every city along the major rivers of the United States can trace its very existence to the arrival of riverboats in America. In the late Cretaceous, around 80 million years ago, a mountain chain spanned the southern portion of the continent, blocking southbound water flows, so most North American rivers flowed to the Western Interior Sea or north to Canada’s Hudson Bay. the River Also Plays a Very Real-And Crucial-Role in U.S. Commerce By English, Ed EconSouth, Vol. Among the numerous plant, animal, and insect species to call the Mississippi home are water birds, with over 60% of the continent’s birds migrating north and south along the river system annually. Now, we are going to approach the question from the other direction. These are the extraordinary new findings unearthed by geologists including Sally Potter-McIntyre at Southern Illinois University, Michael Blum at the University of Kansas and Randel Cox at the University of Memphis, whose work is helping us better understand the monumental events, beginning in late Cretaceous North America, that gave rise to the Mississippi, swelling it to gargantuan proportions. It is truly one of the nation’s most important assets. 10, No. Cookie Policy As recently as 2014, geological consensus held that the Mississippi began flowing through the embayment around 20 million years ago. St. Paul and Minneapolis exist today because of riverboats. The Mississippi flows through the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin in United States of America. “Old Mississippi River, what a fix you left me in,” Bessie Smith sings in “Homeless Blues,” one of many songs about the 1927 flood. Where are you, Walt? To purchase this grand book of river history, tall tales, and beautiful photography you can call 504-587-0733, or order on line with paypal at: Gift Products Continue Famous quotes containing the words history, mississippi and/or river: “ The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom. They called the joining of the two rivers Bdote Minisota. On his way, on May 8, 1541, Soto became the first person with a recorded history of reaching the Mississippi River. Terms of Use This is his first piece for the magazine. For this very reason, as riverboats were developed to navigate the insistent currents, the Mississippi became arguably the most important vein of transportation in North America. The Great Flood of 1927 accelerated the Great Migration, as African Americans, disproportionately displaced, sought economic opportunity in cities such as Chicago and Detroit. ” —Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) “ “Where is the Mississippi panorama And the girl who played the piano? The Mississippi River has a history of dangerous floods. View all Coastal Land Loss. Length of the Mississippi River. In the 1800's, river travel up and down the Mississippi was fraught with danger. Sign up for our mailing list to receive information on the latest New Orleans news, events, and attractions! The river was able to hold the pressure for almost three weeks until it started to give away. Approximately 50,000 years ago, the Central United States was covered by an inland sea, which was drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries into the Gulf of Mexico—creating large floodplains and extending the continent further to the south in the process. Dean Klinkenberg is a writer based in St. Louis. Vote Now! In 2013, Nibi Walk, a group of Indigenous women walked 1,500 miles along the Mississippi to advocate for clean water—an issue of vital importance to the 18 million Americans who get their drinking water from the river. The Mississippi was thus born when dinosaurs still roamed the planet; one can almost picture an alamosaurus bending its prodigious neck to drink from its waters. Here, we count down the mightiest floods of the Mississippi River. Evidence of their cultures has been found largely through archeological excavations, as well as existing remains of earthwork mounds built thousands of years ago. The Mississippi River system would go on to forge the settlement of central United States. The Jefferson runs into the Missouri River, which runs into the Mississippi. “Ol’ Man River” buoyed Show Boat, the 1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Around 60 million years ago, the Mississippi was collecting water from the Rockies to the Appalachians; by four million years ago, its watershed had extended into Canada, and the Mississippi … Until the early 19th century, the Mississippi marked the western border between Spanish and American territory, and it continues to give life to the cities that sprang up along its route. Native Americans lived along its banks and used the river for sustenance and transportation. The Mississippi River is the largest and most important river in North America. The soil in areas such as Louisiana was thereafter found to be very rich. During the 1937 flood, Raymond Daniell wrote in the New York Times about frantic efforts to raise barriers “faster than old man river could rise.”. When it rains a lot, the water hits the ground and runs into the river. 45,000 to 12,000 years ago, during the last ice age, glaciers advanced and retreated many times over this area to slough away all the younger or top layers of rock formations. In 1682, a Frenchman by the name of Robert de La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi and claimed the entire valley in the name of France. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. But beyond the walls of Historic Fort Snelling, there are few well-known stories that depict the Black experience in Minnesota and more specifically, on the Mississippi River. In 1682, a Frenchman by the name of Robert de La Salle reached the mouth of the river and claimed it in the name of his country France. Fur traders plied their trade on the river and soldiers of several nations garrisoned troops at strategic points, at various times, along the river when the area was still on the frontier. Better yet, why not take a cruise along the Mississippi on one of the last remaining steamships in operation! On August 1, 1993, the Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993 came to its peak. Spanning over 2,348 miles, the Mississippi is the second longest river in the United States, and it's drainage area, approximately 1,250,000 square miles, is the third largest in the world. “This was a giant river, on the order of the Amazon,” said Cox. This means, when there is lots of snow in the winter, or heavy rains, the river tends to flood. Throughout the history of the greatest stream in North America, water has meant life, and lots of it. At least 144 million gallons of sewage and garbage were being tossed into the river every single day by the 1930's. ? Around 60 million years ago, the Mississippi was collecting water from the Rockies to the Appalachians; by four million years ago, its watershed had extended into Canada, and the Mississippi had grown to an enormous size, carrying four to eight times as much water as it does today, Cox and colleagues have found. The Western portion was purchased in 1803 by the United States resulting in the largest real estate transaction in human history. Today, many, many years since Mark Twain wrote stories of his extensive voyages aboard riverboat steamers, the Mississippi River still meanders its way through our country, continually providing transportation, and distribution of goods to, and from the United States. New Orleans School of Cooking Zoom Classes, Social Distancing in this So So Social City, What You Need to Know: New Orleans Phase 2 Reopening. Photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society Cue Robert Hickman, born a slave in 1831 on a Boone County plantation just off the Missouri River who worked as a log splitter. The river is the fourth longest river with a length of 3,730 km; and flows at an average of one third of human walking speed. Old Man River, indeed. It wasn’t the first time. [via Wikipedia] As construction began on control structures throughout the Mississippi River Basin, and as floodwaters rushed into the Ohio River Valley in January 1937, a district engineer in Memphis, Tennessee, … This has not been the first recorded instance the Mississippi River froze. Nevertheless, regardless of one's perception, this body of water tout's an irrefutably significant history - A history that defines this region, and this country, for better or for worse, to heck or high flood water. In 1758, the French ethnographer Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz published The History of Louisiana, in which he wrote that the Mississippi River’s name meant “the ancient father of rivers.” Though his etymology was off—the Ojibwe words that gave us Mississippi (Misi-ziibi) actually mean “long river”—the idea has proven durable. Give a Gift. The Mississippi River is known for its epic floods and these destructive events led to the creation of levees along North America's longest river. The true source of the Mississippi is the Jefferson River in Montana. Below the Missouri River junction, the middle Mississippi follows a 200-mile (320-km) course to the mouth of the Ohio River. This was one of the pollutants of the Mississippi River in the 1800's. 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