How Mighty is the Mississippi?

January 27 2015 | Blog

The Mississippi River is a symbol of American history, progress and culture and we at the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen are amazed by its strength and beauty every day. In honor of the mighty waterway that our vessel paddles through daily, we’ve highlighted some of the most interesting and celebrated aspects of the Mississippi. Come aboard our Historical Cruise to learn more interesting facts and history of one of the world’s greatest rivers.

Mississippi River Facts

Size – The exact length of the Mississippi River varies according to the source due to the fact that the channel changes over time. Top sources have reported that the river is between 2,300 and 2,552 miles long. The width of the river depends on its location. In some spots like at Lake Itasca, the river is only between 20 and 30 feet wide. The river is widest downstream from the Missouri River near Alton, Illinois where it is nearly one mile across. The Mississippi River’s depth also differs depending on its location. At its headwaters, or furthest spot from its estuary with other rivers, is less than three feet deep. The Mississippi is deepest right here in New Orleans, between the Governor Nicholls wharf and Algiers Point, where it is 200 feet deep.

mississippi river

Path – The Mississippi either flows through or borders 10 states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Volume – Though like the length, width and depth of the Mississippi River, the volume varies by location, the average flow rate at New Orleans is 600,000 cubic feet per second. To grasp the full force of this measurement, one cubic foot of water weighs 65.4 pounds and at New Orleans, the equivalent of 166 semi-trailers of water flow past Algiers Point each second.

Mississippi River Culture

Songs – The Mississippi River conjures sounds of Dixieland Jazz, blues and Americana music. In New Orleans, famous musicians like Louis Armstrong made their living performing on steamboats just like the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen. It’s no surprise that there have been many songs written about or inspired by the Mighty Mississippi by such artists as Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and Tina Turner.

new orleans riverfront

Native American history – Long before Europeans discovered the Mississippi River, Native Americans lived along its banks since at least the 4th millennium BC. Those tribes included Choctaw, Chickasaw, Quapaw, Osage, Caddo, Natchez, Tunica, Sioux, Sac Gox, Pottawatomie, Illini, Menominee and Winnebago. The Native Americans lived off the river, using it for transportation, drinking water and food. The first record of a European reaching the Mississippi was Hernando de Soto in 1541.

Huck Finn – There have been many books that employ the Mississippi River as a symbol or secondary character, arguably the most famous being the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain whose affinity for the river is well-known. In Huckleberry Finn, the river means freedom and a new life for the main characters, as well as challenges and responsibilities that freedom comes with. 

Explore this inspirational waterway with us on a Paddlewheeler Creole Queen cruise down the Missisippi!

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