The Mississippi is a romantic river whose relationship with man goes way back beyond its discovery by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The Indians used it as a highway and as a source of food and it was they who gave it its nameó"misi" meaning "great" and "sipi " meaning" water".
When the length of the Missouri is added to it, the Mississippi becomes the third longest river in the world. From the source of the Missouri to the tip of the delta, it is 2,480 miles long. Its head waters have been compared with a healthy, thick-branched tree, healthy because its main branches are navigable for most of their length.
The Indians paddled up and down the river in their canoes. The first steamer was launched in 1810. It had a single great paddle-wheel at the stern, and from then on was known as a "paddle-wheeler". Throughout the 19th century, these unique ships IWC Ingenieur Replica were queens of the river. They have become part of American history and American literature. The noted writer, Mark Twain, immortalized the river in his greatest novel Huckleberry Finn.
Paddle-wheelers still carry passengers from Cincinnati on the Ohio River to New Orleans, a trip which only the rich people can afford. As for freight, tow-boats push enormous raft and barges, locked together tightly so as to form vast platforms. These barges carry their huge loads up-stream into the great tributaries as well as downstream from New Orleans, through locks and into the outlets of the delta. The Mississippi is one of the busiest highways of any kind in the world.
Great rivers are prone to floods. In 1927 the Mississippi swamped 26 thousand acres, sweeping away farms, towns and everything on its path. In 1938,its floods drowned or killed 200 people and made millions homeless. Today, the river has largely been tamed. High banks built of earth hold back the flood waters.
Industries have spread down some of the water-ways of the delta, but otherwise the delta is a remote place, the homeland of a little colony of French Canadians that the British drove out of Nova Scotia in Canada in the 18th century. They still speak a French dialect, mixed with English, Indian, Spanish and Negro idioms. They keep to themselves, farming the rich soil of the delta, but leading fairly primitive lives.
"Great water "has also been a frontier river. Pioneers who first reached the bank of the river wondered not only where it went, but also what lay beyond. In 1764 the French founded a city on the right bank of the river and named it after their king, Louis XV. This city, named St. Louis, became the jumping-off place for the adventurous men and women who opened up the plains.
Some 40 years earlier, at the beginning of the 18th century, the IWC Replica French had founded another city just above the Mississippi delta, New Orleans. It was the Mississippi that made the city what it is today. New Orleans is one of the great ports of the world, and one of the greatest terminals for both sea and river traffic. Yet the "Great Water" always means a threat, for the streets of the city are below the level of the river, and at flood time, only huge levees stand between the city and disaster.
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