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Mississippi and Missouri Rivers

The Mississippi River forms the eastern boundary of our state. In all, that river is 2,320 miles, the fourth largest lake on earth. By release, it is the 15th largest river on the planet. Until the Louisiana Purchase, the Mississippi River was the western border of the USA.

The Missouri River creates the northern portion of our state’s western border, then crosses west-to-east through the middle of this state to join the Mississippi at St. Louis. Between its headwaters in Montana and its confluence with the Mississippi at St. Louis, it is 2,341 miles — the longest river on the continent. It drains over 500,000 square miles, including all or parts of 10 states and two states — roughly one-sixth of America.

Before it was channelized and controlled by dams and reservoirs, Missouri used to rise a great deal in spring, as winter snow melted in the Great Plains, and again in June, as rains came and snow melted in the Rocky Mountains.

Missouri was nicknamed the Big Muddy before there were channels, dams, and reservoirs, back when it carried enormous amounts of sediment — literally hundreds of millions of tons per year. Today, the amount is”only” 20 to 25 million tons, as the river is not permitted to modify its course and since dams detain its stream, making silt fall into the base of reservoirs. Nonetheless, it’s still muddy-looking, along with the Missouri River contributes over half the silt that arrives in the Gulf of Mexico, forming the Mississippi Delta, therefore the Big Muddy nickname is still apt.

By the time it reaches our nation, Missouri has gained the flow of many tributary rivers and has passed through numerous dams and reservoirs. If it joins the Mississippi, it contributes nearly half of the water that flows downstream past their confluence.

  • The Part of the Mississippi that escapes southwest of the confluence with Ohio — in Cairo, Illinois, along with Birds Point, Missouri — would be that your Lower Mississippi. A million miles off from this stage, the river meets the Gulf of Mexico.
  • From the upper reaches Minnesota to St. Louis, the Upper Mississippi is regulated by locks and dams, channels, and wing dikes. The Upper Mississippi is basically a run of human-made lakes suitable for river transport, hydroelectric power, and recreation.
  • South St. Louis, in which Missouri combines it, that both the more Mississippi flows and awakens more freely.