Mississippi River Info
The Mississippi River has a significant amount of history and tradition behind it. The river was formed in the most recent Ice Age, which started about 2 million years ago. This last Ice Age ended approximately 10,000 years ago, which makes the Mississippi about 10,000 years old as we know it. During the last Ice Age, glaciers deposited layers of sediment across what is now known as the beautiful upper Mississippi River valley. As these mighty glaciers melted, large quantities of water cut channels through sediment and debris in the ground underneath. Today the Mississippi River and its tributaries follow these same channels that were created thousands of years ago. The actual Mississippi River valley was carved from one set of towering bluffs to the next and was approximately 250-500 feet deeper than it is today!
Numerous Native American groups, including the Ojibwa, Winnebago, Fox and Choctaw Indians, eventually came to the river due to its great size and resources. These natives named the river and used it for daily trading, farming and fishing. The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is credited with the European discovery of the Mississippi River in 1541. French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reached the Mississippi through the Wisconsin River in 1673, and in 1682, Robert de La Salle traveled down the river to the Gulf of Mexico and claimed the entire territory for France. The French were the first Europeans to establish settlements in the valley and extend their control. In 1763 the French ceded the river to Spain only to regain it again in 1800.
The Mississippi River became property of the United States in 1803, when the country obtained the river as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Since the acquisition, the river has played a significant role in the shaping and history of the United States. The river was used as an invasion route for union armies and was the scene for many important battles during the Civil War. Mark Twain shaped American Literature with his famous stories about river lifestyle and adventures. The Mississippi River has played a very important role in making the United States the great country it is today.
Fun Facts of the Mississippi
The length of the Mississippi varies about 30 to 50 miles each year!