Mississippi River

Mississippi River: Cornerstone of Midwest Transportation

Video and article by: Greg Stevens

The Mississippi River has always been a vital piece in the North American landscape. It serves not only as a border for states, but also, it is nature’s homemade super highway, allowing anyone to use it for fast transportation and shipping. Even before the United States acquired the land through the Louisiana Purchase, French and European immigrants have reported using and taking full advantage of the Mississippi River for years.

In 1673, two Frenchmen named Marquette and Joliet first explored the Midwest area. They explored multiple rivers systems and banks and upon return reported extensive fur reports in the Upper Midwest. With these reported, the idea of trade soon became a way of life by the Mississippi River.

In 1803, the United States acquired the land and the Mississippi River via the Louisiana Purchase, and soon began using the river as much as possible. It became a water source, a mode for transportation and a shipping highway. Construction soon followed to tame the river as much as possible and allow passage to further down different rivers. This made transportation and shipping to farther distances possible and help expanded the United States.

Today the Mississippi River is still used the same way, however its use has greatly increased. In 1970, the grain shipments amounted to nearly 18 million tons, which is nearly three times the total river traffic in 1940.

Despite all the great advantages of the Mississippi River, there are some setbacks and problems as well. The first problem that comes from the Mississippi River is money. In 1933 the US spent 30 million dollars to work on the Upper Mississippi River. By the time all the projects were complete, the US spent more than 164 million dollars.

 With the amounts of boats traveling and shipping on the Mississippi River, it has become polluted and is still not recovering. 

Another problem from the Mississippi River is its environmental issues. With the amounts of boats traveling and shipping on the Mississippi River, it has become polluted and is still not recovering. In fact, according to an article written by riverproject.org, the Mississippi River has been one of the most polluted rivers since the 1700’s. Also people who live in towns along the Mississippi River are upset with all the construction and upkeep of the Mississippi River and the amount of pollution created from the construction. Over the years, there have been many legal issues concerning the town folks and the shipping companies and government regulations.

Information courtesy of:

Cleaning the River Project


Center for Global Environmental Education: Hamline University




Contact cabrinicomdept@cabrini.edu with questions and feedback.

Cabrini College

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.