What Four States Border Mississippi River


Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States, running 2320 miles in length and situated on the Mississippi Plains. It rises in Lake Itasca in the north and flows south and eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi River is a major ecological incubator and an important transportation corridor, connecting more than forty states and two Canadian provinces. Mississippi River forms the borders of four different states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.


The river forms a length of two hundred and eighty miles along the border of Minnesota, originating in the state and running along the southwest corner of it. Thirty percent of Minnesota’s population lives in the eleven counties that lie along the Mississippi River. This stretch of the river is a major fuel and hauling route for the state. The river’s islands, rapids and wetlands have become tourist attractions over time. The Great River Road and the Waadnawah Trail, two longitudinal roads that follow mostly along the Mississippi, are popular destinations for scenic road trips. The Headwaters of Mississippi also form Minnesota’s boundary with Canada, with the Lake Itasca State Park being the hub of this territory.


Several stretches of the Mississippi River border Wisconsin, which encompasses almost a hundred and fifty miles of the river. Twenty three percent of the state’s population lives in areas along the river, from the city of La Crosse in the west to De Soto in the east. Major American landmarks, such as the Fort Snelling and St. Croix, grant Wisconsin its signature historical flavor, making it a prime destination for visitors. The Wisconsin portion of the river is a major waterway, contributing to commercial and recreational activities in the region. It serves passers-by with towboat services that cruise past beautiful bluffs and islands, and numerous birdwatchers, hikers and anglers alike come to explore the Wisconsin stretch of the river.


The Mississippi River forms almost eight hundred miles of Iowa’s eastern to western boundaries, providing scenic riverbank views to travelers. Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Keokuk are popular tourist spots along the river, while Clinton and Burlington serve as major hubs for commercial activity. A number of small towns, quaint cafes and parks can be spotted along the route between these cities, hosting frequent active passerby. The Big River State Trail, Iowa’s longest trail, follows the Mississippi River along the southeastern part of the state, beginning at the Quad Cities and concluding near Sabula.


Missouri, the most downstream state bordering the Mississippi River, shares more than five hundred miles of its length with the state. This stretch of the river houses a number of nature preserves, providing cover to wildlife and bird watchers alike. Missouri is often considered the most beautiful and most dangerous of the four states, as massive floods that occurred in 1993 and 1995 caused severe erosion. Parts of St. Louis and some distinct corridors in the state capital, Jefferson City, can also be found in close proximity to the river. The government of the state has worked to prevent soil erosion and control the flooding, making the Missouri portion of the river an increasingly popular place to visit.


The four states that border the Mississippi River have long had a major manufacturing and ferry industry developed along its banks. Businesses engage in cargo transportation, energy extraction and raw material processing, utilizing the swift current of the river. The Great Lakes Ports as well as most of the Midwest and Gulf ports like Houston, Mobile and New Orleans benefit from the volumes of materials that can be moved through the Mississippi. Pharmaceutical, agricultural and petroleum industries also depend heavily on the ferry and transportation process carried out through the ports of the Mississippi.


The banks of the Mississippi River have long been a refuge for several cultural and historic communities. Cultures forged extensively in the terrain of the Mississippi have existed since the days of Native Americans, and the four states participating in the party of the river have all had longstanding and intricate cultural backstories. The four states, between them, hosted the Movement of 1838, the migration of thousands of Native Americans from the east to the west coast. Today, their influence can still be felt in the many museums and art galleries that line the banks of the river. Furthermore, culturally significant sites like the Cahokia Mounds, the Muscle Shoals and the Stomp Dance Grounds give the river a unique aura of mysticism and mystery.

Environmental Impact

The states that board the banks of the Mississippi River possess a collective rugged and rustic topography, providing innumerable species of plants and animals with a safe haven and the perfect environment for survival. The unique natural characteristics of the region are due to the presence of the river, as it is a major air purifying medium and one of the most fossil fuel efficient means of transportation. The states collectively benefit from the presence of the river, and thus bear a responsibility to keep it in good condition. Mississippi River is still home to a number of species, be it aquatic or otherwise, that must be safeguarded in order to maintain a high quality of life.


The Mississippi River sports a wide variety of ways to experience its southern hospitable terrain. One can pick from a gamut of activities like camping, fishing, or visiting the old cultural centres. A favourite way of experiencing the river is the so-called towboat cruise. The cruise takes passengers on a journey down the mighty waters of the river, which is braided with numerous island and shorelines, towards its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. One can also visit the National Park Service sites along the river like the Effigy Mounds National Monument, the St. Paul Chapter of the National Park and Museum, the visit the old civil war battlefields at Vicksburg National Military Memorial.


The Mississippi River offers plenty of economic opportunities, from the classic to the new. The four states that the river boards are major beneficiaries of the waterway’s transport and its energy economy. The transportation hub of the river houses over thirty ports, featuring different types of ships, barges and tugs. And then, of course, there is the classic industry of fishing that has thrived in its waters since time immemorial. Shortline railroads and air transportation have also become popular ways of getting around along the river.


The Mississippi River is a popular adventure recreational spot for nature lovers and the like. Countless riverbanks across the four states host several travelling and fishing opportunities, provided you meet the necessary laws and regulations. Annual festivals and gatherings on the banks of the Mississippi draw large crowds of cheerful people, with the cities of Red Wing, Prairie du Chien and St. Paul in particular being famous for their fetes and fairs. And of course one cannot forget the pinnacle of any romantic visit to the Mississippi: cruising in the middle of the night, under a bright starlit sky, to the bold and beautiful tunes of the river’s rapids.

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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