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By the Numbers: The Mighty Mississippi River


Whether you like the tune or not, you’ll find these numbers interesting


Square miles drained by the Mississippi River. The watershed (4th largest in the world) extends from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, includes all or parts of 31 states and two provinces, and drains one-eighth of North America (including 41% of the U.S.).


Average flow rate, in cubic feet per second, at New Orleans. That amount of water would fill about 116 standard-sized semi-trailers.


Approximate length of the Mississippi River, in miles, from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi-Missouri combination, which is often cited, totals about 3,902 miles (fourth-longest in the world).


Width of the river (miles) at it widest point, which is at Lake Winnibigoshish near Bena, Minnesota. The widest navigable width (Lake Pepin on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border) is about two miles.


Speed of the river, in miles per hour, measured at New Orleans on February 24, 2003. That’s the average human walking speed.

Want more Mississippi River statistics? Visit
this NPS site.

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