Seven Wonders of MS: The MS River - - Jackson, MS

Seven Wonders of MS: The MS River

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

I realize that even though our state was named for the Mississippi River that we don't have exclusive rights to it. As a matter of fact, it drains parts of 34 states including ours, all the way from the Rockies to the Appalachians. It is the partial border of 10 states including ours. And in its waters are waters from rivers with the names of other states: the Missouri and the Ohio most notably. But also the Iowa, the Arkansas, (even though in Colorado and Kansas it's called the ArKANsas river), the Wisconsin, And the Illinois. Patriotic Rivers, the Jefferson and the Madison flow into it. The White, the Black, the BIG Black, the Red and the Big Muddy. The Rock River and the Skunk river and a hundred more all flow past the west side of our state as the Mississippi river.

Native Americans have used the river for millennia. Hernando DeSoto was the first European to see the Mississippi in 1541. From a point in present day Mississippi I might add.

The Mississippi is the 4th longest river in the world, behind the Amazon, the Nile and perhaps the Yangtze.

Here in Mississippi, its lopped-off bends form oxbow lakes. Some still as wide as the main river, like Lake Washington in the Delta, for instance. And where older, more ancient bends have filled in, it has left us swamps and bayous, full of black bear and alligators and legends and lore.

Some of the river lore handed down is from the day just before the steamboat era when flat boats men would gingerly pole their crafts southward with the current down the Mississippi and sell their goods at Natchez or New Orleans. Then on the walk back home along the Natchez Trace, meet outlaws like the Harp Brothers or John Murrell.

In 1911 the New Madrid quakes made the Mississippi Run run backwards. Maybe as an illustration of how the world was about to change because the first steamboat was making the trip upriver against the current about the same time of those quakes, ushering in the steamboat era that saw the rise of river ports like Vicksburg and Greenville.

There were four, 100-year floods on the Mississippi in the 20th century. We've already had two more this century.

But at the same time it is a threat to life and property, it is majestic. Get up above it and see the power and the splendor of it.

Just as people who see the pyramids pass by them and never look up, we see the Mississippi River and don't stop to think that to people around the world it is a wonder. And it is our wonder, right out in our back yard. Helping the sun set every night.

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