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Mississippi River--for 19 miles 'Our River'

The Mississippi River, chief inland waterway for the U.S., runs 2,340 miles from northwestern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. But for the 19 miles that it flows along the City of St. Louis’ shoreline, it is ‘Our River.'

Flood of '93 in St. Louis

From April-Sept '93 the River:

Was above flood stage 144 days

Reached within 2.5 feet of the top of the St. Louis floodwall

Had a peak discharge that could fill old Busch Stadium every 65 seconds

St. Louis arch

From the early days, the Mississippi River determined much about the way St. Louisans’ lived their lives.

Early treaties used the river to define national boundaries—Spanish, French, and English. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the United States laid claim to the land surrounding the River, including that in the St. Louis area.

Now the River became important to St. Louis more for the immigration, exploration and commercial possibilities it provided than for defining its residents’ allegiance.

Life on the Mississippi
Mark Twain ; with an introduction by Justin Kaplan and a new afterword by John Seelye.
New York, N.Y. : Signet Classics, 2009.
Fashioned from the same experiences that would inspire the masterpiece Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's most brilliant and most personal nonfiction work. It is at once an affectionate evocation of the vital river life in the steamboat era and a melancholy reminiscence of its passing after the Civil War, a priceless collection of humorous anecdotes and folktales, and a unique glimpse into Twain's life before he began to write. Written in a prose style that has been hailed as among the greatest in English literature, Life on the Mississippi established Twain as not only the most popular humorist of his time but also America's most profound chronicler of the human comedy.
     
Shantyboat : a river way of life
Harlan Hubbard ; with ill. by the author ; and a foreword by Wendell Berry.
Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, c[2009?]
Originally published: Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 1977.
     
My river home : a journey from the Gulf War to the Gulf of Mexico
Marcus Eriksen.
Boston : Beacon Press, c2007.
     
The River Queen : a memoir
Mary Morris.
New York : Henry Holt, 2007.
"Growing up in Chicago, Mary Morris listened to her father talk about the Mississippi and the towns, people, and music he had known when he worked along the muddy river that runs through America's history. She left the Midwest for a different life, but she remembered her father's stories and the place that had been her home." "Years later, she found herself a bit older, a happily married woman, a mother, and an acclaimed author who had traveled to exotic places. But life was changing - too quickly, it seemed. Her daughter, Kate, was leaving for college. And then Mary Morris got the news that her father, Sol - a colorful but difficult man known for his temper and carefully kept toupees - had died. Plagued by anxiety and loss, she began to feel old - until the river beckoned and she decided to see what it had to offer." "She plotted an adventure that would get her back on track - embarking on a trip down the river in a houseboat with two river rats (Tom and Jerry) and Samantha Jean, an irascible terrier who hated her. In a journey that took her through Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, Morris lived like a pirate, bivouaced on beaches, and survived a tornado and an infestation of mayflies. Memories of her father - who complicated her life but who gave her the strength to raise her daughter alone - filled her thoughts. Memorable characters were not in short supply. Waitresses with tales of romantic disasters, a sorcerer, a river pilot who had survived Katrina, and the talkative denizens of many river towns drifted through her days. She learned to pilot the houseboat, swim in rough currents, and even won over Samantha Jean. She saw many of the places her father had lived, tracing a path that hurt and healed and took her to destinations she couldn't have imagined. By the time it was all over, Morris was ready to begin again."--BOOK JACKET.
     

St. Louis’ strategic location on the River, seemingly on the line between north and south, influenced the City’s role in the Civil War. From the riverfront, troops and supplies moved between battlefields.

Following the Civil War railroads replaced much of the river commerce. Still today St. Louis remains the busiest inland port on the Mississippi River, and the third busiest inland port in the U.S. About 32 million tons of cargo is handled yearly.

Today the opportunity for adventure and recreation remains as close as the river’s shore. Annually thousands come to the riverfront to visit the Gateway Arch, enjoy the many concerts and festivals held here, or take an exciting riverboat cruise.

The Mississippi River may be called "Old Man River" by some. But for St. Louisans its nineteen miles of city shoreline make it "Our River". It’s part of what keeps St. Louis busy, vibrant, and growing.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff