In this post, we’ll explore the mighty Mississippi River. Where is the Mississippi River? What states border the Mississippi River? And what does the name “Mississippi” even mean?
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River stretches across the great country of America for no less than an impressive 2,320 miles. This means that it would take the average human 645 hours non-stop to walk the length of the Mississippi from head to mouth. The name “Mississippi” actually comes from a Native American word for “big river.”
During its journey across America, beginning all the way up at Lake Itasca in Northern Minnesota and winding all the way south until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi transverses no less than 10 American states before reaching its final destination. Even more impressive, its tributaries feed no less than 32 states and 2 Canadian provinces.
The river provides not only drinking water, irrigation, recreation, and watersports for the inhabitants who live close to its banks, but also water for the wildlife and plants that live and flourish along its vast length. It also provides a much needed source of irrigation for farmland in the surrounding area, resulting in one of the most fertile and productive stretches in the United States.
So, what states does the Mississippi River pass through? Let’s take a look.
What States Border the Mississippi River?
The Mississippi emerges into the Gulf of Mexico, south of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. This Deep South state is perhaps best known for its rocking festivals and parties, including the Essence Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and, of course, the world famous Mardi Gras Festival.
The state of Mississippi was named for the famous river that runs through it. Mississippi is known for its Southern culture and hospitality, as well as for the prevalence of gorgeous magnolia trees that can be found growing across the state. The capital city, Jackson, has been nicknamed the “crossroads of the South.”
Tennessee is largely known for its diverse musical heritage. Not only is it the home of Elvis Presley, otherwise known as the King of Rock and Roll, but it is also the birthplace of bluegrass. The state capital, Nashville, is center of the world’s country music scene, and has earned the nickname “Music City.”
Arkansas is home to two different mountain ranges, the Ouachitas and the Ozarks. It is known for being home to Mount Ida, the quartz-producing capital of the world. The state is the birthplace of Johnny Cash, Bill Clinton, Billy Bob Thornton and John Grisham.
Further reading: Why isn’t Arkansas Pronounced like Kansas?
The Mississippi River crosses the eastern border of Missouri, a state where Midwest and Southern American culture come together. Missouri is known for being home to Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest beer producers in the world. The unofficial state motto, “Show Me State,” is on display on the license plates and has been attributed to a 19th century Congressman named Willard Vandiver.
Louisville, Kentucky is famously home to the most well-attended horse race in the world, the annual Kentucky Derby. Kentucky is also known for being home to Colonel Sanders and his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken chain, not to mention some of the best bourbon in the world.
Further reading: Funny Kentucky Derby Horse Names
Being the flattest state in the country, Illinois epitomizes the American midwest, and is rightfully nicknamed “The Prairie State.” The name Illinois comes from an American Indian word for “men” or “warriors” and its largest city, Chicago, is home to Willis Tower, which is among the tallest buildings in North America.
Further reading: Why is Chicago called the Windy City?
Iowa is known for its agricultural abundance, and no wonder, since it hosts some of the world’s most fertile soil. The state produces so much corn and other agricultural products that it has been nicknamed the “Corn State.” Iowa was home to American historical figures like Chief Black Hawk and Herbert Hoover.
Wisconsin is America’s number one producer of dairy and cheese products, and has thus justly earned its nickname as “America’s Dairyland.” It has traditionally been a hub of German American and Scandinavian culture.
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 1000 Lakes,” and as such, serves as an appropriate starting place for the great Mississippi River. Indeed the name Minnesota is derived from a Dakota Indian word for “water.” The state has numerous alternate nicknames including “the Bread and Butter State” and “L’etoile du Nord,” which is French for “Star of the North.”
So these are all the states that border the Mississippi River. Think you can remember them all? Test your knowledge in the quiz below!