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The MISSISSIPPI RIVER The father of waters the Mississippi River is one of the longest in the world According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers if it is measured from the Upper Red Rock Reservoir which leads to its longest branch the Missouri the Mississippi flows 3658 miles to the Head of Passes in the delta From Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Passes the Mississippi measures 2550 miles The upper Mississippi River is 1401 miles long The drainage basin extends from western Pennsylvania to Idaho embraces two fifths of the continental United States not including Alaska It is third in size only to the Amazon and Congo River basins The greater part of this vast region is enormously fertile which makes the Mississippi Valley an agricultural empire second to none The Little Stream Becomes a Great River As it issues from the cool clear waters of Lake Itasca the Mississippi is only a little stream 10 or 12 feet wide and about two feet deep For a time it rushes north over rapids and around boulders with reeds flags and water grass growing profusely on its banks and in its crystal waters After much twisting and turning it settles into its southeasterly flow Tributaries often as large as the river itself join the Mississippi swelling it to a width of 1200 feet at St Anthony Falls Here it descends about 65 feet in three quarters of a mile forming rapids in the midst of which rears a precipice 18 feet high Over this the river once plunged in a beautiful cataract Now this water power has been used to build up the manufacturing interests of Minneapolis Southward the banks of the stream rise in rocky bluffs sometimes as high as 500 feet and continue almost to the junction of the Ohio River The distance between the two lines of bluffs varies from three to eight miles and the river
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