The Mississippi River, found in – guess where – Mississippi, US, has the distinction of being the second-longest river of its kind in North America. That’s an incredible distinction – and anyone who has ever visited the river will likely tell you they are surprised it is only the second-longest!
However, there’s more to these waters than just length – as you’ll soon discover, with these fun facts about the Mississippi River.
1. It goes further than you might think.
The Mississippi River actually flows more than 2,350 miles along, starting in the central US and ending in the Mexican Gulf.
2. It competes with the world’s longest rivers.
The Mississippi River is actually one of the longest rivers on a global scale, too. It’s just shorter than the Yangtze, the Amazon and the Nile. The Nile is, in fact, almost double the length of the Mississippi!
3. It’s a very slow mover.
The Mississippi River reaches speeds up around 1.2 mph, meaning that you’re likely to be walking at double its speed.
4. You can get there quicker on foot.
It will generally take two to three months for the Mississippi River to flow from Lake Itasca down to Mexico.
5. It’s a multi-state traveler.
6. It’s great value travel.
Believe it or not, there are no more affordable ways for you to travel across the South-eastern states than via the Mississippi River.
7. It’s very important for trade.
As such, it’s an important source of trade, and has been for centuries. What’s more, it is crucial for local drainage across the states mentioned above.
8. There’s lots of fish out here!
It’s thought that around a quarter of all fish species on the continent can be found living in the Mississippi River.
9. The bridges came before the railroads.
The Mississippi River’s first bridge was set up in 1855, with a railroad setting up shortly after that.
10. It’s amazingly wide!
The Mississippi River is not only long, but wide, too. It’s around seven miles wide at its most girthy!
11. It has a firm place in popular literature.
If you’ve read Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, part of the ‘Tom Sawyer’ series, you will know that the Mississippi River is a pivotal location.
12. It’s been owned by many different people, many times.
The Mississippi River has changed hands between multiple international forces. It was once French-owned, before acting as a British-Spanish boundary. It was even passed around during the American Revolution.
13. Don’t try this one yourself!
Swimmer Martin Strel, famous for swimming rivers to their full lengths, tackled the Mississippi River in 2002. It took him 68 days. It’s certainly not recommended for health or endurance reasons!
14. It’s a huge migration spot.
It’s thought that around two-thirds of all birds in North America use the basin at the Mississippi River for migratory purposes.
15. The river delivers water to millions.
The river is also hugely important for delivering water to cities and towns, with at least 50 cities benefiting from the river’s water each day.
16. Get your skis out!
The Mississippi River is the birthplace of water-skiing! Believe it or not, the first people to try this activity took to the river around a century ago.
17. Its name is a little odd!
The word ‘Mississippi’ itself actually means ‘great river’, derived from Ojibwa – meaning that the name we call the river literally means ‘the great river’s river’!
FAQs about the Mississippi River
Can you swim in the Mississippi River?
Yes, providing you are careful - it may be worth wearing a life raft and absolutely worth bathing afterwards!
Are there sharks living in the Mississippi River?
Believe it or not, it’s thought sharks used to swim about here fairly happily!
Has the Mississippi River ever flowed backwards?
Yes - believe it or not, there have been hurricanes that have forced the river to flow in reverse for several days!
Do you know any fun facts about the Mississippi River? Share them in the comments below!