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. I remember buying an abridged version of Tom Sawyer way back (may be 7-8 year old).. A jewel the book is!!

    Like

  2. Yes, it is, but I haven’t written Tom Sawyer, I wrote the post!

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An amazing river. And it runs the entire north/south breadth of the States. I wonder how many rivers elsewhere do likewise. The Nile in Egypt does, for one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing looooong River. Brings memories of seeing this river.

    Like

  5. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Like

  6. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Like

  7. Hi. For some reason, my earlier comment got lost in cyberspace. I enjoyed this essay about one of the world’s great rivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you very much for your kind comment!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you again. Greatly appreciate.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What an interesting and informative piece, Joanna. I had read about this river during my early days for refreshing general knowledge, but the details with all visuals you have provided, have enriched me. Though all the videos are good, I liked the journey in 5 minutes most.

    As most of the information you shared is new to me, I can’t add much from my side. I only remember one song Ol’Man River by Paul Robeson, nothing else. The beginning and ending of the post by quotes from Mark Twain and Faulkner respectively are so apt and meaningful. Thank you, Joanna for sharing one more captivating post.

    Like

  12. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful comments! As always, you made my day! I think the history of big rivers like the Ganges, Mississippi, Volga, and Amazon is worth refreshing, and that is why I posted this one today.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you again, Kaushal. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you, Joanna for refreshing. I had a very beautifully experience of a cruise down the Nile River. But now I think a Mississippi river cruise would be much more beautiful.

    Like

  15. You’re always welcome, Joanna!

    Like

  16. It is mutual, Kaushal!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That would be lovely but not possible at the moment with the new restrictions.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A fascinating piece. Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on this ‘river cruise’ something that we cannot do in real life just now! 🌹💖💝😊🙋‍♂️

    Like

  19. Thank you, Ashley, for your most generous comment. Unfortunately, cruising with me is the best option!

    Joanna

    Like

  20. Thank you, Ashley, again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  21. What a fantastic post, Joanna. Moon River, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and Elvis’ performance evoked so many great memories. And what a beautiful river! Thank you!

    Like

  22. Thank you, Lauren, for your most kind comments! As they all are among my favourite things, it was a pleasure to write this post.

    Joanna

    Like

  23. Thank you again, Lauren. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  24. Mississippi River, always heard about it, the mighty one. And almost double the length of Ganges. I see now where Joanna’s incredible blog is taking us. A ride to the world’s mightiest, most revered rivers.

    Somehow, it could be my internet i couldn’t play even a single video but enjoyed St. Louise blues, as i went through reading about the masters of the craft, who somehow were associated with this great river. All along i could see myself in the photographs swimming somewhere around.

    Has the river’s name been Mississippi always?

    Its a beautiful essay on the river and should be archived. Thank you so much Joanna. I am travelling along.

    Narayan x

    Like

  25. Thank you, Narayan, for your wonderful comment. It is a shame that your internet didn’t allow you to play the videos as other Indian readers had no problem at all. If you could listen to a French Cajun song you will realize that the name of the river comes from
    a combination of Messipi and French version of the Anishinaabe, name for the River Misi-ziibi, Great River.
    If you have a chance, perhaps you could catch up with videos later.

    Joanna x

    Like

  26. Thank you again, Narayan. Greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for sharing my indignation and sense of humor by liking my reply to one of my reader’s comments.
    You might like my suggestion on today’s KK post with funny questions.

    Joanna

    Like

  27. haa I had actually laughed out loud 🙂

    Always a pleasure dear Joanna
    Narayan x

    Like

  28. Thank you. Did you see KK also ?

    Like

  29. Such a beautiful river! Thank you for a great share Joanna. Your posts is always so informative.

    Like

  30. Thank you, Henrietta, for your kind comments. There is something special about big rivers, and I like finding interesting facts about them.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  32. A wonderful post Joanna. I loved your music and visual videos. I really liked the French version of Amazing Grace! Mark Twain was a wonderful writer!

    Like

  33. Thank you, Dwight, for your generous comments. Mark Twain’s talent immortalized him, and his books will be read by future generations.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you, Dwight, again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. You are very welcome! You have the most beautiful informative posts.

    Like

  36. You are so welcome. Yes, he was a wonderful writer!

    Like

  37. Another spectacular video and wonderful history to listen to and read Joanna!!
    Thank you so much for highlighting your post with incredible pieces to continue to visit and revisit!
    💖👏👏👏🙏

    Like

  38. Thank you. Cindy, for your wonderful comments! You are always lifting my spirit, and your writing makes me smile just like the Peanuts strip!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Thank you again, Cindy. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  40. You’re sooo welcome Joanna. Oh that’s so nice to hear.. I love that we each have different gifts and we both appreciate the ones we each have! UR2 kind!💖

    Like

  41. It’s my pleasure!!!!💖💖💖

    Like

  42. What a wonderful perspective on the Mississippi River, Joanna. I loved all the history you gathered together here. The videos, images, and book references are perfect.

    Like

  43. Thank you, Rose, for your generous comments! I do try to gather as much information as possible in a relatively short space.
    I do hope that you are not fainthearted for the oncoming this week’s post!

    Joanna

    Like

  44. Thank you again, Rose. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

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