The Mighty Mississippi, Ol’ Man River

“…the great Mississippi, the majestic,
the magnificent Mississippi, rolling its
mile-wide tide along, shining in the sun…”
Mark Twain

“Moon River” by Henry Mancini (courtesy of Tamer Sharaf):

 

“The Mississippi River will always have its own way;
no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise…”
Mark Twain

Courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning:

 

The Mississippi River is the second-longest, after Hudson Bay, river in North America. It is 2,350 miles long from its source at Lake Itasca to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. It flows through: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  Along the borders of the Mississippi River are many interesting cities. These are New Orleans, Memphis, St Louis, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis.

An introduction to the river (courtesy of CGEEmultimedia):

 

A journey from the headwaters to the delta (courtesy of CGEEmultimedia):

 

New Orleans is a melting pot of French, African American, French-Canadian, and Creole and Cajun cultures in Louisiana on the border of the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the ‘Big Easy’ for its round-the-clock nightlife, the world-famous colourful Mardi Gras, the blues, and jambalaya, a dish that combines meat, spicy sausages, peppers, and vegetables with rice and tastes divine. Creole and Cajun singing originated there and is quite unique, and once heard, never forgotten.

Courtesy of SweigertTV1 Drone:

 

“La Grâce du Ciel” (The Grace of Heaven) sung in Cajun French by Les Amies Louisianaises (courtesy of Robt Arnold):

 

The above photos show parts of the French Quarter in New Orleans

The Soul of Louisiana (courtesy of Smithsonian Channel):

 

To me, the Mississippi River is forever associated with Samuel Langhorne Clemens or rather Mark Twain as he is known.

A mini bio of Mark Twain (courtesy of Biography):

 

When he was four his family moved from Florida to Hannibal on the Mississippi River.

“Mississippi Steamboat” by Fenton Robinson (courtesy of Fenton Robinson – Topic):

 

The photos above show Hannibal, Missouri.

“Steamboats of the Mississippi” (courtesy of Nautical PappyStu):

 

Mark Twain outside his former childhood home in Hannibal, Missouri.

He later became a riverboat pilot. After many changes in his career, he became a writer and at the time the biggest selling writer in the United States.

How Mark Twain got his pen name (courtesy of Smithsonian Channel):

 

Two of the favourite books of my childhood, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were read by me so many times that I could remember by heart whole paragraphs. Here is one:

‘Tom presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window… She had thought that of course, Tom had deserted long ago, and she wondered to see him place himself in her power again in this intrepid way.
He said: “Mayn’t I go and play now, aunt?”
“What, a’ready?” How much have you done?”
“It’s all done, aunt.”
“Tom, don’t lie to me – I can’t bear it.”
“I ain’t, aunt; it is all done.”
Aunt Polly placed small trust in such evidence. She went out to see for herself, and she would have been content to find twenty percent of Tom’s statement true. When she found the entire fence whitewashed, and not only whitewashed but elaborately coated and decorated, and even a streak added to the ground, her astonishment was almost unspeakable. She said: “Well, I never! There’s no getting around it:  you can work when you’re a mind to, Tom”.
She was so overcome by the splendour of his achievement that she took him into the closet and selected a choice apple….. and while she closed with a happy Scriptural flourish, he ‘hooked’ a doughnut.’

Of course, as we know, it wasn’t Tom who did the whitewashing.

Courtesy of Movieclips, a classic scene from the film “Tom Sawyer” (1973):

 

The above sculpture, depicting Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, is “Setting Out on Mischief Bent” by Frederick Hibbard in Hannibal, Missouri.

The twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul both lie on the borders of the Mississippi River. Minneapolis is the largest city in the US state of Minnesota and the principal city of the 16th largest metropolitan area in the United States. It is also the 46th largest city in the United States. Minneapolis with its neighbour Saint Paul makes up the Twin Cities. The history of Minneapolis started when French explorers arrived in 1680. At that time the Dakota Sioux were the region’s sole residents, but gradually many European Americans attracted by the game and other resources moved in and the British land east of the Mississippi River became part of the United States. In the early 19th century, the United States acquired land to the west of the Mississippi River from France in the Louisiana Purchase. Minneapolis developed around St Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River and a source of power for its early industry.

St Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.

St Anthony Falls Through Time (courtesy of The Time Travel Artist):

 

By 1871 the west Mississippi River bank had twenty-three businesses, including four flour mills, wood mills, ironworks, a railroad machine shop, mills for cotton, papers, and wool. The farmers of the Great Plains grew grain that was shipped by rail to the city’s 34 flour mills. The results in Minneapolis between 1880 and 1930 were so remarkable that the city has been described as ‘the greatest direct-drive water power centre that the world has ever seen’. Minnesota’s ‘patent’ flour was recognised at the time as the best in the world.

Above are shown woods along the Mississippi River.

Above is shown an old abandoned factory along the Mississippi River in St Louis.

“The St. Louis Blues” performed by Hugh Laurie (courtesy of Gregory House):

 

Memphis in Tennessee is a city on the Mississippi River. In South-West Tennessee, places of interest include the legendary Sun Studio and Presley’s Gracelands. It is the place of the Blues, Soul and Rock, BB King, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. St. Louis, a major city has an iconic, 630ft Gateway Arch, built in the 1960s to honour the early 19th century explorers Lewis and Clark, and America’s westward expansion. The replica paddle-wheelers on the river offer a view of the arch.

Above is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, performing “St. Louis Blues” in 1929 (courtesy of vintage video clips):

 

The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge, a city on the side of the Mississippi River. Baton Rouge means in French ‘Red Stick’. It was placed as a boundary marker for the settlement in the days when this area along the Mississippi River was occupied by two indigenous tribes, the Houma and the Bayougoula. To settle the border disputes between them, the tribes used a cypress pole to mark the boundary dividing their hunting grounds at an area known as Scott’s Bluff. This marker on the east bank of the Mississippi River, caught the attention of an explorer (French-Canadian) Pierre Le Moyen d’Iberville when he was making his way upriver during an exploration in 1699. Today, Scott’s Bluff is part of Southern University. The Red Stick sculpture pays homage to how the city of Baton Rouge got its name.

Above is shown the Red Stick in Baton Rouge.

“Louisiana Bayou” (courtesy of John Kindle):

 

A note to my American readers – all the above is known to many of you, but as the blog is read by people in 200 countries, I am sure that those not in the USA, will find riveting the history of the mighty river, the Mississippi.

A final tribute from Elvis Presley singing “I Wish I Was in Dixieland” (courtesy of Jack McHammer):

 

Roots of Conservation (courtesy of Walton Family Foundation):

 

Courtesy of LMRCC Tube:

 

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi”
William Faulkner

57 thoughts on “The Mighty Mississippi, Ol’ Man River

  1. Hey joanna, I hope you remember me, Rujuta K from seamless echo… just dropping in.. I wanted to say something, but I don’t know what to..😭😅

    Like

  2. Thank you, Riya, for saying hello, If you don’t know what to say you could start by reading my post

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did.. it is as informative and long as it used to be✌🏻😁😭

    Like

  4. Joanna, I have been looking forward to this post, and you did not disappoint. The photos, videos, and music were superb! My late husband and I visited New Orleans several times… Bourbon Street at night, getting sunburned on River Boats, Meeting Chef Paul Prudhomme at his restaurant, attending a Mardi Gras party in authentic Mardi Gras costumes, dinner with cherries jubilee in the Court of the Three Sisters, touring a plantation, and most of all, listening to New Orleans jazz at Preservation Hall. Your beautiful post brought back wonderful memories for me. Thank you so much!

    I also enjoyed the segments about Samuel Clemmens, whose books about Tom and Huck I love very much. There was much historical information in the post that I didn’t know, and I found it very interesting. I especially liked the video of historic riverboats.

    I am looking forward to learning about the Ganges next time. 🙂

    Like

  5. Thank you, Cheryl, for your wonderful comments! It is immensely rewarding to know that you enjoyed my post so much.

    Joanna

    Like

  6. Thank you again, Cheryl. Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Like

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