Hayward’s United States Gazetteer (1853) page 217

Click on the image for a larger version suitable for printing.


Page 216 ...Page 218

Note: Ctrl and + increases the font size of the text below, Ctrl and - decreases it, and Ctrl and 0 resets it to default size.


to this, from the sources of the Red River, to those
of the Wisconsin, measures about 1100 miles.
The average width of the Mississippi basin is
about 550 miles. The extent of surface included
in this vast area is about 1,100,000 square miles.
This exceeds the aggregate of all the valleys
drained by the rivers of the Atlantic slope, in-
cluding that of the River St. Lawrence. The
principal tributaries of the Mississippi are the
Red River, the Arkansas, the White, the Missou-
ri, and the Yellowstone, from the W., and the
Ohio and Illinois from the E. These great riv-
ers, with many others of inferior magnitude,
draining the different parts of the great basin
from which they come, unite with the Mississippi
proper, and pour their waters through its channel
into the Gulf of Mexico. Above the confluence
of the Missouri with the Mississippi, the former,
although denoted as a secondary to the latter, is
much the larger of the two. But the Mississippi,
having been first explored, retains, through its
course, the name which it then received. Above
the entrance of the Missouri, it is known in com-
mon parlance as the Upper Mississippi. The
river is called the Mississippi proper, in distinc-
tion from this great tributary, so much its supe-
rior; inasmuch as, from the natural features of
the entire basin denominated the valley of the
Mississippi, it would seem that the Missouri
should bear the same name, or that it is better
entitled to be considered as the true Mississippi.
The extreme source of the Mississippi was dis-
covered by Schoolcraft, July 13, 1832, to be the
Itasca Lake, in 47° 10' N. lat., and 94° 54' W.
Ion., at an elevation of 1500 feet above the ocean,
and 3160 miles from its entrance into the Gulf of
Mexico. This is a beautiful sheet of water, of
irregular shape, about 8 miles long, situated
among hills covered with pine forests, and fed
by springs. It has its outlet to the N., which is
about 10 or 12 feet wide, and from 12 to 18 inches
deep, which, flowing N., passes through Lakes
Ir ving and Traverse. It then turns E., and
passes through several small lakes to Lake Cass,
which is about 16 miles long, and contains several
islands. Thence it flows E. to Lake Winnipec,
and S. E. to Little Lake Winnipec, below which
it receives Leech Lake through an outlet, which
was formerly supposed to be the source of the
Mississippi. Erom this point the river expands
to a hundred feet in width, and flows through a
low prairie country till it reaches the Falls of
Peckagama, where it descends about 20 feet over
a rapid of 300 yards. These falls are about 685
miles above the Falls of St. Anthony. All the
sources of the Mississippi take their rise in lat.
42° to 48° N., and the general course of the river
S., bearing E. in the upper part through about
20 degrees of lat., to its entrance into the Gulf
of Mexico. By this rule of computation, the
length of the valley of the Mississippi proper is
about 400 miles; but the extent of travel by the
course of the river is probably twice this number
of miles. It has indeed been estimated higher
than this; but the length of rivers extending far
into these remote and sparsely-settled regions of
the country has been generally overrated. The
gradual declivity of the Mississippi valley, how-
ever, is so very slight, giving a fall to the waters
of not more than five or six inches to the mile
upon an average, and the soil through which its
channel is made is so tender and easily worn
away, that the smallest obstacles in the stream,
or the most inconsiderable variations in the sur-
face of the country, have been sufficient to divert
the current from an onward direction, and to give
it oftentimes a very serpentine and circuitous
course. The Mississippi meets with very few
falls or rapids in its course. The Falls of St.
Anthony, about
2000 miles from its source, ter-
minate the route of steamboat navigation. Down
these falls, the river, which is here about half a
mile wide, precipitates its waters in a perpendic-
ular descent of about 16 or 17 feet, making, with
the descent of the rapids above and below, a fall
of about
40 feet. For a long distance below it is
a clear, placid, and beautiful stream, skirted with
wide and fertile bottoms, or alluvial margins,
which are under water at the season of floods.
A few miles below the mouth of the River Des
Moines, and about 100 miles above the entrance
of the Missouri, there are rapids of about 10
miles in extent, which at low water in the sum-
mer occasion considerable impediment to the
navigation. Where the Missouri enters, the river
has a width of a mile and a half; but below this,
to the mouth of the Ohio, although the volume
of its waters is greatly increased by those of this
mighty tributary, the width of the stream is con-
siderably less. Its channel, however, has greater
depth, and its current a more accelerated and
turbulent movement. At the lowest stages,
feet of water may be found from the rapids of
Des Moines to the mouth of the Missouri. Be-
low that point, to the mouth of the Ohio, there
are 6 feet in the channel of the lowest places, at
low water. Between the mouth of the Ohio and
the St. Francis there are various shoals, where
pilots are often perplexed to find a sufficient
depth for their boats during low water. Below
that point there is no difficulty at any season,
except in finding the right channel. The river
washes the entire western border of the state of
Mississippi, which it separates from Arkansas
and Louisiana, for a distance, by the windings
of the stream, of
530 miles. A large portion of
its banks, in this section of its course, consists of
inundated swamp covered with cypress, excepting
occasional elevated bluffs, which rise immediately
upon the borders of the river. Natchez, the
largest and most commercial place in this state,
is situated on one of these bluff's, elevated
feet above the surface of the river. About 500
miles from its mouth, the Red River enters the
Mississippi from the W. This is the last of the
tributaries of any consequence which it receives.
Next to the Missouri and the Arkansas, it is the
largest which comes in from the W., and dis-
charges about as much water as the latter. Here
the Mississippi carries its greatest volume of wa-
ter, as immediately below this it sends off, at
intervals, several large outlets, which make their
way in separate channels to the ocean. Three
miles below the mouth of Red River, the Ateh-
afalaya, or Chiaffalio Bayou, as it is called, passes
off on the W. side, which is supposed to carry
off as much water as the Red River brings in.
The Atchafalaya has been supposed to be the
ancient bed of the Red River itself, by which it
continued its course to the ocean without forming
a connection, as now, with the Mississippi. The
latter has here effected a change in its course by
cutting through the isthmus of a large bend, in
consequence of which its main channel does not
now pass by the mouth of the Red River. By
these changes, it is probable there has been some

This page is written in HTML using a program written in Python 3.2, and image-to-HTML-text by ABBYY FineReader 11 Professional Edition.