The Mississippi River: Facts and Information

Mississippi River Fact File

Country: United States

Length: 2320 miles (3734 km)

Source: Lake Itasca, Clearwater County, Minnesota

Mouth: Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana.

Other Facts About the Mississippi River

  • The Mississippi River’s drainage basin (the area from which it collects water) covers parts of 31 US states and 2 provinces of Canada.
  • It’s the fourth longest river in the world.
  • In the sixteenth century, the Mississippi formed the border between New Spain and New France.
  • The Mississippi flows through or directly borders these states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
  • The Mississippi River is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower.
  • The Upper Mississippi flows through the state of Minnesota. Over 40 dams control the flow of the Upper Mississippi, and many of these dams include locks in order to help ships and boats navigate it.
  • The Middle Mississippi starts at the confluence (meeting) of the Mississippi and the Missouri River at St Louis, Missouri, and comes to an end at the Mississippi’s confluence with the Ohio River in Illinois.
  • The Lower Mississippi River has several tributaries, such as: The White River, the Arkansas River, the Big Black River and the Red River.
  • At several points the width of the Lower Mississippi River is greater than 1 mile.
  • For such a large river, the Mississippi has a relatively low flow. The Amazon River, for example, moves nearly 10 times as much water.
  • More than 170 bridges (foot and railroad) span the Mississippi River on its journey from source to mouth.
  • Both sides in the American Civil War wanted to control the Mississippi River as it offered many strategic benefits.
  • Apparently, the sport of water-skiing was devised on the Mississippi on a stretch called Lake Pepin in the 1920s.

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River Thames: Facts and Information

River Thames Fact File

Length: 346 km (215 miles)

Source: Thames Head, Gloucestershire (England)

Mouth: Thames Estuary (North Sea)

Other Facts About The River Thames

  • The River Thames is the second longest river in the UK.
  • It is the most well-known of Britain’s rivers because it flows through central London. It also flows through (or really close by) some other important towns and cities in England, such as: Richmond, Kingston upon Thames, Windsor, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford and Reading.
  • The Thames is tidal when it flows through London.
  • More than 80 islands are contained in the River Thames. These include: the Isle of Sheppey, Canvey Island and Rose Isle.
  • The Celts referred to the Thames as Tamesas (or Tamesis), which meant ‘dark’.
  • About two thirds of London’s drinking water comes from the Thames.
  • The River Thames has several tributaries, including: the River Churn, Windrush, Cherwell, Thame, Loddon and Mole. Several rivers also join the Thames after it has become tidal. These include: the River Brent, Effra, Westbourne and Fleet.
  • The Thames becomes tidal below Teddington Lock. This is just over 50 miles from the Thames Estuary (and the river’s mouth).
  • The Thames is the home to many different types of creatures. Lots of birds can be found at different points along the course of the Thames from source to mouth (such as herons, moorhens, grebes, kingfishers and coots). The Thames supports lots of different fish species too, including: trout, chub, roach, pike and many more.
  • John Burns (a Battersea MP) famously described the Thames as ‘liquid history’. He meant that River Thames was responsible for supporting settlements upon its banks throught British history, from Neolithic times to today. The Thames has witnessed the birth of London and many of the key events in Britain’s history.
  • The Thames has been bridged more than 200 times and it has been tunneled under more than 15 times. Many of today’s bridges have been built on the site of much earlier crossing points.

The River Thames

Check out our other fact files on important rivers by clicking here or discover more London facts by visiting our London resources page.

The River Mersey: Interesting Facts and Information

River Mersey Fact File

Length: 112 km (70 miles)

Source: The Mersey is formed when three tributaries – the River Goyt, the River Tame and the River Etherow – merge in Stockport.

Mouth: Liverpool Bay (Irish Sea)

More Facts About The River Mersey

  • The River Mersey represents part the historical boundary between the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. However, today it flows through the metropolitan county of Merseyside. In Anglo-Saxon times, the Mersey might have been the border between Northumbria and Mercia. It is thought that the name Mersey comes from the Saxon words for ‘boundary’ and ‘river’.
  • Several ferry services have taken passengers and goods across the river over the years. The Mersey Ferry runs between Pier Head (Liverpool), Woodside (Birkenhead) and Seacombe. The 60s band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, released a popular song called ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’.
  • The amount of industry that developed, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, on the banks of the Mersey had a negative effect on the quality of the Mersey’s water. In recent years, massive efforts have been made to clean the water and remove pollution. These have been very successful.
  • Atlantic grey seals, bottle-nose dolphins and harbour porpoise sometimes swim into the estuary of the River Mersey from Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea.
  • In the 18th century, the Mersey Docks in Liverpool were one of Britain’s busiest ports. Salt from Cheshire, coal from Lancashire, pottery from Staffordshire, metal from Birmingham and sheep from Wales were all transported out of the country on ships from the Mersey Docks.
  • Some British Hindus think that the River Mersey is sacred (like the River Ganges in India).
  • Every year the Tall Ships Race takes place on the River Mersey.

The River Trent: Facts and Information for Kids

River Trent Fact File

Length: 298 km (185 miles)

Source: Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire (North Sea, England)

Mouth: Humber Estuary (England)

Other Facts About The River Trent

  • In the past, the course of the River Trent was used to mark the boundary between the North and the South of England.
  • The River Trent has many tributaries, including: River Derwent, River Idle, River Leen, River Sow and the River Tame.
  • The River Trent flows through the Midlands and many towns and cities have been situated close to it. They include: Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield, Burton upon Trent, Derby, Nottingham, Newark-on-Trent and Scunthorpe.
  • The Trent is the third longest river in the United Kingdom.
  • Unusually for rivers in Britain, the River Trent flows in a northerly direction.
  • Some people believe that the name of the River Trent is linked to the Celtic word for ‘strong flood’.
  • Over 80 bridges cross the River Trent. Perhaps the most spectacular of these is The Swarkestone Bridge, Britain’s longest bridge made of stone. This bridge is located about 5 miles south of Derby.
  • The River Trent passes through several different English counties: Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.
  • The River Trent was an incredibly important trade route (particularly during the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s) and it is one of the main reasons why the Midlands became a key industrial area during the Industrial Revolution.
  • In Nottingham, the River Trent flows under the beautiful Trent Bridge. This is also the name given to Nottingham’s cricket ground.
  • More than 30 different types of fish live in the Trent.
  • Today the water of the Trent is clean and largely free from pollution. This certainly wasn’t the case during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the Trent was polluted by the emissions from the many factories which used its water in their manufacturing processes.

The River Severn: Facts and Key Information

River Severn Fact File

Length: 354 km (220 miles)

Source: Plynlimon (Wales)

Mouth: Severn Estuary (Bristol Channel, England)

Other Facts About The River Severn

  • At 354 km the River Severn is the longest river in the British Isles.
  • It flows through the region of Powys in Wales, and the counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucester in England.
  • The Severn has the greatest water flow of any river in England or Wales.
  • The River Stour, River Vyrnwy, River Worfe, River Teme, River Wye and River Avon (Warwickshire Avon) are all tributaries of the Severn.
  • Several large towns have developed from the original settlements on the banks of the Severn. These include: Newtown, Welshpool, Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Stourport, Worcester, Tewkesbury and Gloucester.
  • The River Severn is bridged in lots of places. Two of the bridges, the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing, link Wales and England by road.
  • Before the 16th Century, the Bristol Channel was known as The Severn Sea.

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