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Skillman, W. D. The Western Metropolis; or St. Louis in 1846 . St. Louis: W.D. Skillman, 1846. [format: book], [genre: advertisement; catalogue; history; guidebook; ledger; report]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=skillman.html


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The Mississippi River.

(In part from McCullogh's Gazetteer.)

The Mississippi River, for its great length, its numerous tributaries, the distance to which it is navigable, and the immense extent of country which it drains, well deserves the Indian title of "The Father of Waters." The import in the Algonquin language of "Missi Sepe," is Great River. It drains a country of over 1,000,000 square miles in extent, eminently fertile, and sending through it to its destined markets a vast amount of produce. Its extreme source was discovered by Schoolcraft, in July 13th, 1832, to be Itasco Lake, in 47°10' N. Lat., and 94° 54' W. Long., at an elevation of 1,500 feet above its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico. Itasca Lake, or Lac la Biche, of the French, is a beautiful sheet of water, of an irregular shape, about eight miles long, situated among hills covered with pine forests, and fed chiefly by springs. It has its outlet to the north, which is about ten or twelve feet wide, and eighteen inches deep; and flowing northwardly, it passes through Lakes Irving and Traverse, then turns eastward, and proceeding through several small lakes, it enters Lake Cass. This lake is about sixteen miles long, contains several islands, and is about 3,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and 182 miles below Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi. The most northerly point on the Mississippi is a little short of 48° N. Lat. From the junction of Leech Lake Fork, the river expands to a hundred feet in width, and flows with a mean current of one-and-a-half miles per hour, and a descent of three inches in a mile, through a low prairie country, covered with wild rice, rushes, sword grass, and other aquatic plants, and is a favorite

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resort of waterfowl, and various amphibious quadrupeds. At the Falls of Peckagama, the river descends twenty feet in three hundred yards, by a rapid which entirely obstructs navigation. At the head of these falls, the prairies entirely cease, and below, a forest of elm, maple, birch, oak, and ash, overshadow the stream. The river now takes a southerly course, curving to the West, and again to the East, to the Falls of Saint Anthony. The descent of the river above these falls may be computed at about six inches in a mile, with a current of three miles an hour; and on the banks are some dry prairies, the resort of buffalo, elk, and deer; the only part of the Mississippi on which the buffalo is now found. About 100 miles below Saint Anthony's Falls, the river expands into a beautiful sheet of water, called Lake Pepin, which is 24 miles long, and from two to four broad. A little below 42° N. Lat., comes in Rock River, a clear and beautiful stream, at the mouth of which is Rock Island, a favorite and pleasant resort in the summer season. In about 39° N. Lat., is the mouth of the Illinois River, a noble, broad, and deep stream, and the most considerable tributary of the Mississippi above the mouth of the Missouri. It is nearly four hundred yards wide at the mouth, four hundred miles long, and navigable for more than three hundred miles. A little below comes in from the West, the mighty Missouri, which is longer, and probably discharges more water than the Mississippi itself; and, had it been early explored, would probably have been considered the parent stream; as it is, it will always be considered a tributary.

The Mississippi, above the junction with the Missouri, is of remarkably clear and pure water, but this is entirely changed by amalgamation with the dark and turbid Missouri, which communicates its muddy appearance to the Mississippi through the remainder of its course, thus asserting its lordship over it.

Between 36° and 37° N. Lat., comes in from the East the beautiful Ohio, la belle Riviere of the French. This is much the largest Eastern tributary, and from the densely populated and highly cultivated country on its banks, is at present by far the most important branch of the Mississippi.

From the extent of country drained by the Mississippi, it might naturally be supposed that the spring floods would be great. Above the mouth of the Missouri the flood usually commences in March, and continues until about the last of May, at an average of about fifteen feet. From the Missouri to the Ohio it rises twenty-five feet, and for a great distance below the Ohio, it sometimes rises fifty feet. At nearly every flood it overflows country, particularly on the Western side, for some five hundred miles from the mouth, to a distance of from ten to thirty miles. Above Natchez the flood begins to decline. At Baton Rouge it seldom exceeds thirty feet, and at New Orleans twelve.

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Skillman, W. D. The Western Metropolis; or St. Louis in 1846 . St. Louis: W.D. Skillman, 1846. [format: book], [genre: advertisement; catalogue; history; guidebook; ledger; report]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=skillman.html
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