The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is a river that is around 2,320 miles long. This river is at least 7 miles wide in the point where it is the widest. The Mississippi River runs through the following states:

  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Arkansas

Mississippi River

Missouri River

The Missouri River plays a big role in the life of the Mississippi River because when these two rivers combine, they are the longest river system that is founding he whole United States and in all of North America. This is also the fourth longest river, when combined, in all of the whole entire world.

History of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi river is known for the Great Mississippi flood that happened in the year 1927 and it was a place where the Native American tribes could use it for its water source and to be able to find the places that they needed to explore.

The beginning of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca

European explorers also used the Mississippi River as part of their explorations.

The Mississippi River was a very important area for people that were farming, trading and fishing.

The Great Mississippi Flood

In 1927, the Great Mississippi Flood happened, and it is one of the worst river floods in the United States. This flood covered over 27,000 square miles and the water was over 30 feet deep.

Lower Mississippi River near New Orleans

More than 630,000 people lost things in the flood and more than 200,000 African Americans lost their homes and had to live in camps that were close to the area.

Because of the Great Mississippi Flood, the government built the world’s longest system of levees, which is a wall or a bank that is made to stop the water if the river floods again.

French Territory

In the 1700’s, the Mississippi was part of French Territory and it wasn’t until after the French and Indian war in 1760, that France gave up the Mississippi River. The river then became an international boundary.

The Mississippi was then shared between different countries because of different treaties and because of the American Revolution.

Later, in 1803, the Mississippi River became property of the United States. This happened because of the Louisiana Purchase. This allowed there to be places to trade and ways for people to travel along the river.

Civil War

Since the Mississippi River was such a powerful source of trade and food, many different areas wanted to have ownership of the Mississippi River.

When the Civil War happened, both the Confederacy, the people of the South, and the Union, the people of the North fought for control of the Mississippi River.


There was a bridge that was built in 1855 that was the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River. A year later, a railroad bridge was built.

Why Is the Mississippi River Important?

The Mississippi River has always been an important river. One of the reasons that it is so important is that it played a huge role in travel and in trade.

Also, in order to travel between states, if you take the Mississippi River, you will pay much less to travel than if you travelled any other way.

Hydroelectric Power

The Mississippi River also plays an important role in giving power. The river gives both hydroelectric power and water to many of the states that the Mississippi River travels through.

By using different types and sizes of generators, the Mississippi River allows for people to have electricity so they can do things like:

  • Cook
  • Have lights
  • Watch Television
  • Charge Phones
  • Run electronics

The most important thing about the hydroelectric power is that this kind of power does not create any type of pollution, so it is considered “green” power. When something is “green” it means that it is good for the environment.

The Mississippi River allows people to be able to have things without hurting the planet!


Another reason that the Mississippi River is so important to people in those states and around the world is because it is used not only as a source of power, but also as a drainage system.

Since there are rivers and streams that flow around the Mississippi River, the water has to drain somewhere, and it just so happens to drain into the Mississippi River.

When this water drains into the Mississippi River, it causes the area to not flood. Floods can be dangerous to people, animals and plants so the Mississippi River is credited with saving the lives of these things by acting as a drainage system for other rivers and streams.

Sections of the Mississippi River

There are three different sections that the Mississippi River is divided in:

  • Upper Mississippi River-This is the part of the water where the river combines with the Missouri River.
  • Middle Mississippi River-This is part of the Mississippi River that meets with the Ohio River.
  • Lower Mississippi River-This is the part of the Mississippi River that flows from the state of Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi River Tributaries

The Mississippi River has 13 different tributaries or a river or lake that flows into it. These include:

  • Ohio River
  • Missouri River
  • Croix River
  • Arkansas River
  • Red River
  • Minnesota River
  • Des Moines River
  • Kaskaskia River
  • Illinois River
  • Wisconsin Rover
  • Rock River

Animals of the Mississippi River

There are many different species of animals that live around or in the Mississippi River including:

  • 325 different species of birds
  • 260 different species of fish
  • 145 different amphibian species
  • 50 different mammal species

Some of the mammal species include:

  • Deer
  • Beavers
  • Coyotes
  • Elk
  • Otters
  • Black bears
  • Mountain lions

Some of the bird species include:

  • Blackbird
  • Cardinal
  • Chickadee
  • Coot
  • Crow
  • Bald Eagle
  • Grebe
  • Goldfinch

Some of the fish species include:

  • Silver Carp
  • Bass
  • Asian Carp
  • Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Walleye
  • Sturgeon
  • Sucker Fish
  • Northern Pike
  • Redhorse
  • Shad

Some of the reptiles and amphibians include:

  • Frogs
  • Toads
  • Turtles
  • Snakes

There are also some common insects that are found in and around the Mississippi River such as:

  • Blue Dasher Dragonflies
  • Bluet Damselflies
  • Spread wings Damselflies
  • Ebony Jeweling
  • Twelve-spotted Skimmer
  • Window Skimmer
  • Halloween Pennant

More Facts About the Mississippi River:

  • The “Adventures of Huck Finn,” by Mark Twain included the Mississippi River in part of the story.
  • A swimmer named Martin Strel, was able to swim the whole Mississippi River in 68 days.
  • The Mississippi River flows through20% of the entire continental United States of America.
  • One of the first people to sail on the Mississippi River was a European explorer named Hernando de Soto.
  • In the year 1700, the Mississippi River was part of the French territory.
  • Water skiing was invented on the Mississippi River.
  • The word “Mississippi” comes from the Chippewa language of the Native American tribe, Ojibwa. This means “great river” in the English language.
  • There is only one other river located in the United States that is longer than the Mississippi and that is the Missouri River.
  • The Mississippi River is known for a place that has sailboats and paddleboats that travel there.
  • The Mississippi River is the fifth largest river by volume, which means it has more water in it than four other rivers.
  • If a drop of water would start at the beginning of the Mississippi River and travel the whole length of the river, it would take 90 days for this cycle to happen.
  • The Mississippi River has more than 170 different bridges.
  • There are some very important cities that go through the Mississippi River such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Memphis and St. Louis.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is the Mississippi River?
    The Mississippi River is a very important river that spans over 10 different states.
  • Why is the Mississippi River important?
    The Mississippi River is an important river for trade, travel and is part of the history of the United States. This river also provides power for many people around the river.
  • Why is it important that the Mississippi River serves as a drainage system?
    If the Mississippi River did not serve as a drainage system, many areas would flood, and it could cause people and animals to die.
  • Are there animals in the Mississippi River?
    There are many different animal species that live in or around the Mississippi River.
  • Why is the Mississippi River a big part of history?
    The Mississippi River has belonged to different countries and has been the center of war because people know how important the river is.