Mississippi River

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel that centers on a journey down the Mississippi River. An integral part of the story, the river takes Huck and Jim to different towns to experience many adventures. The river is also an important part of American history and has an interesting role today. With a length of 6,270 km, the Mississippi River is the second- longest river in the United States (Mississippi River, 2005). Its source is Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota and it empties into the Gulf of Mexico about 160 km downstream from New Orleans (Mississippi River Facts, 2001). It is interesting to note that "a raindrop falling in Lake Itasca would arrive at the Gulf of Mexico in about 90 days" (Mississippi River, 2005). On its course, the Mississippi runs through 10 states of the United States of America – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Also, 31 states and the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan rely on the river and its tributaries for drainage (Mississippi River, 2004). The Mississippi River is divided into two parts. First, the upper Mississippi consists of the area of the river starting at its source south to the Ohio River. The lower Mississippi is the part of the river from the Ohio to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The upper Mississippi is further divided into three sections; the headwaters, a series of man-made lakes, and the middle Mississippi (Mississippi River, 2005). "The word Mississippi comes from the Ojibwe name for the river, Messipi, which means big river, or from the Algonquin Missi Sepe which means great river or father of waters" (Mississippi River, 2005). Hernando de Soto, the first white man to reach the Mississippi River, called it "Rio de Espiritu Santo" (River of the Holy Spirit) on May 8, 1541. Later French explorers began to travel around the Mississippi, known to them as "Ne Tongo", Sioux for big river (Mississippi River, 2005). The...
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