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Why is the Mississippi River important?

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Quick Answer

The Mississippi River is important due to its necessity in American commerce. Cities such as New Orleans, St. Louis and Minneapolis all get water from the river.

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Why is the Mississippi River important?
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The Mississippi River provides hydroelectric power to a number of different cities. The river is the second longest in the United States and has 25 locks and dams. The river also drains off floodwater, which prevents many regions throughout the United States from flooding. In fact, there are 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces that drain water into the Mississippi. This includes thousands of rivers and streams, which make up its system of drainage. Transportation barges throughout the Midwest can ship to and from ports accessible through the Gulf of Mexico, making it important to trade and transportation. Transport along the river is the cheapest form of transportation going back and forth from the Southeast United States. The river was critical in the Civil War, and many boats fought on it for control of the various ports located along the river. The steamboat trade of the Civil War was particularly important, though it was largely replaced by rails.

Hernando de Soto discovered the river for Europeans in 1541, though other cultures, such as the Spanish, had likely already discovered it.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How long is the Mississippi River?

    A:

    The Mississippi River is reported to have different lengths depending on the source consulted. The EPA says it is 2,320 miles long, the United States Geologic Survey says it is 2,300 miles long and the staff of Itasca State Park at the Mississippi's headwaters say it is 2,552 miles long.

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  • Q:

    What are some interesting facts about the Mississippi River?

    A:

    There is some debate over the length of the Mississippi River, with the U.S. Geologic Survey, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and the EPA all placing it at different lengths between 2,300 and 2,552 miles. Regardless, it is the third longest river in North America.

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  • Q:

    How was the Mississippi River formed?

    A:

    The Mississippi River formed largely during the Great Ice Age when large sheets of ice began to melt, and the resulting water pooled in glacial lakes in what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota. This water slowly drained towards the Gulf of Mexico, carving the Mississippi River as it flowed.

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  • Q:

    What are some facts about the Mississippi River?

    A:

    At 2,350 miles long, the Mississippi River is the third longest river in North America. It originates at Lake Itasca and deposits water into the Gulf of Mexico. The narrowest part of the Mississippi River is between 20 and 30 feet across and is located near the beginning of the river at Lake Itasca. The widest part of the river, at Lake Winnibigoshih in Minnesota, is over 11 miles across.

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