Is The Mississippi River A Landmark

Historical Significance

The Mississippi River is one of the most iconic American landmarks that has played an important role in the development of the country throughout history. It is the second longest river in the United States, and stretches over 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. The river has been used for centuries as a major means of transportation and commerce in the United States and continues to serve an important role in trade and waterway access today. The Mississippi is also the fourth largest river in the world and is the most important tributary in the Mississippi River system. Throughout U.S. history, the river has been essential in the development of Native American tribes, early explorers and settlers, the Civil War, and even more recently, in the transportation of oil and gas.

Geographical Features

The entire river system consists of a number of components, all of which are interconnected. They include the main stem, which is the Mississippi proper, the tributaries, and the many distributaries that supply water to the lower parts of the river system. The tributaries of the Mississippi are the Missouri, Ohio, and White Rivers, while the distributaries are the Mississippi Delta, the Atchafalaya River, and the Mermentau River. Additionally, the Lower Mississippi River Industrial Corridor is also an important part of the Mississippi River system. Spanning from Memphis, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana, this corridor is one of the largest industrial rivers in the world.

Economic Impact

The Mississippi River has played an important role in the economic development of the United States and the states it passes through. The river’s economic impact includes agriculture, commerce, navigation, and energy production. From agriculture, the Mississippi River provides irrigation to millions of acres of land, supports fisheries, and is home to a variety of wildlife. Agriculture alone contributes billions of dollars every year to the river’s economy. Commerce on the river has also been essential since the beginning of the United States. It is important to note that a large proportion of the U.S. economy is dependent on the goods transported along the Mississippi. In terms of navigation, the river is connected with shipping channels and ports all throughout the midwestern and southern United States. The main goods transported on the river are grain products, oil, gas, and coal, among many others. Lastly, energy production from hydroelectric power is also an important part of the Mississippi River’s economic development.

Environmental Considerations

Though the Mississippi River has played an essential role in the development of the United States, it has also caused environmental damage in certain areas. Pollution both natural and human made has caused degradation of water quality. Chemical pollutants, like fertilizers and pesticides, have caused hazardous levels of bacteria, nitrates, and other chemicals making their way down the river. In addition to this, industrial waste, sewage, and other pollutants have all contributed to the degradation of the river. Large portions of the river are now unfit for drinking, swimming, or fishing. The river is also home to a number of invasive species that have caused indigenous species of fish and other aquatic life to struggle in the polluted environment.

Recreational Activities

Despite these environmental concerns, the Mississippi River continues to be a popular location for recreation. The river is home to numerous trails, camping sites, and recreational areas located throughout its banks. Fishing, hunting, and various water sports, such as rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, are all popular activities that are enjoyed throughout the river system. In addition, visitors can explore the river’s cultural history through a number of museums, historical sites, and other tourist attractions.

Notable Landmarks

The Mississippi River is home to a number of iconic landmarks visible along the entire stretch of the river. These include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the French Quarter in New Orleans. The Mississippi River Bridge, stretching over the river at St. Louis, is also a notable landmark. The Natchez Trace Parkway and associated National Scenic Byway runs alongside the Mississippi River and is full of wildlife and views of the river. There are also many former towns and civil war sites located along the river that offer a glimpse into the past.

Political Significance

The Mississippi River has been a source of political contention throughout U.S. history. Numerous treaties and laws have been enacted in order to protect the river and its resources. In addition, numerous environmental advocacy groups have been created over the years with the purpose of protecting the river ecosystem. These efforts are ongoing, as the effect of pollution, invasive species, and the changing of the river’s course continues to be a cause of concern.

Conservation Efforts

In recent years, the U.S. and other countries have been investing in conservation efforts to ensure the health and sustainability of the river. The impact of pollution, climate change, and invasive species are all being addressed through international initiatives and legislation. These efforts aim to restore and protect the river and its resources for future generations.

Development Projects

The Mississippi River has long been an important source of transportation and commerce in the United States. The development of the river continues, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to ensure the maintenance and improvement of navigation channels, river infrastructure, and transportation systems. Multiple development projects are ongoing, and they include levee construction, flood risk management, and navigation projects.

Economic Potential

The potential for economic growth and development along the Mississippi River has been growing over the years. Real estate investments have become an important part of the river’s economy, as the waterfront has become an attractive location for residents and businesses. In addition, the potential for recreational activities and other tourism related businesses has been increasing along the river.

Climate Change Implications

Climate change has also been affecting the Mississippi River in a number of ways. Rising sea levels and changes in water temperatures can changed the viability of certain industries. Additionally, extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, can also impact the river and its resources.


The Mississippi River is not only an iconic landmark, but also an important economic resource and recreational area. From Native American tribes to settlers and to the modern day, the river has been an integral part of the development of the United States. The impacts of climate change, development, and various conservation efforts will continue to shape the Mississippi in years to come.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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