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10 Awe Inspiring Facts About The Mighty Mississippi River

The Lower Mississippi River near Vicksburg

The Lower Mississippi River near Vicksburg

The Mississippi River flows for 2,350 miles – from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

The river is an important part of what makes Tara Wildlife so special. It helps to add to the beauty of this place and it supports an abundance of wildlife, attracting birds on their migration, providing food and habitat for many critters, and opportunities for recreation for us!

These are just some of the amazing things about the Mississippi River:

  • There are over 260 species of fish in the Mississippi River and its floodplains. That is 25% of the fish species in all of North America!
  • It is the second longest river in North America, second to the Missouri River, which is about 100 miles longer.
  • The speed of the river at the headwaters in Minnesota is about 1.2 miles per hour but when it reaches New Orleans, the speed is 3 miles per hour.
  • The Mississippi Flyway is a major migration path for birds that follows along the Mississippi River. It is used by about 40% of the migratory birds that spend the spring and summer in the U.S.
  • The Mississippi River collects the water that drains from 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. That’s 41% of the U.S. that drains in to the river.
  • The river helps to define part of the borders of 10 U.S. states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Iowa, and Arkansas.
  • The Mississippi River starts out at 1,475 feet above sea level in Minnesota and drops to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. That’s a change of 1,475 feet along its length.
  • The portion of the river from St. Louis to New Orleans (700 miles) is free of dams which allows large trains of barges – some as long as 2,000 feet – to transport commodities between these two cities.
  • The Mississippi River is a major transportation route for goods and commodities. Approximately 460 million tons of freight are transported on the Mississippi River each year. Commodities transported on the river include agricultural crops, coal, steel, petroleum, and aluminum.
  • The widest point of the Mississippi River is 11 miles! It is located at Lake Winnibigoshish in Minnesota.

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