The Working River that Divides USA

No river in the United States has had more historical and economic significance than the Mississippi River. The "working river" a...

No river in the United States has had more historical and economic significance than the Mississippi River. The "working river" as it's often called for being the main transport artery to move grain and coal over the past 200 years, has also been used as a western frontier of the British colonies and early USA. The Mississippi River is a widely used continental divide between the East and the West, and I often hear people say "west of Mississippi" or "east of Mississippi". It is the second longest river in North America (2,350 miles / 3,780 km) that connects Minnesota and 9 other states with the Gulf of Mexico.

Those who are interested in learning about the history and nature of the river should take The Great River Road National Scenic Byway, a road that follows the river from its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota to its mouth in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
I only drove a small section of the scenic byway before heading to the airport in Minneapolis, but apparently, some people take it for the full length according to the stickers on this van (below).
Frankly speaking, the natural beauty of the river and its valley is rather mediocre compared to other rivers such as Colorado, so don't expect to see much in that regard. Of course, there are a number of parks along the way, some of them - with great views from the top of a cliff. 
However, what fascinates people when it comes to the Mississippi River is its human history.
It's fair to say that the river has actually shaped the history of the United States. Long before building the railroads and auto roads, the Mississippi River was the only practical way to expand westward and northward. 
Picture this: it would take up to 4 months to get from Louisville, Kentucky to New Orleans, Louisiana. However, once steamboats appeared in the early 19th century, the same trip would only take 6 days thanks to the still and passable nature of the Mississippi River.
Steamboats have since long gone yielding to cars, plains and trains, but the river is still actively used to deliver cargo such as grain and coal.
According to the information sign at the visitor centre in Prescott, Wisconsin, if you live in the US and have eaten bread or cereal today or turned on a light bulb, chances are the grain in your food and the coal-producing your electricity were shipped on the Mississippi River. This is how much the river is being used today.
A number of cargo barges pass the river every day. A single towboat pushes about 15 barges at a time. A load of each barge is equivalent to 15 jumbo train cars or 58 semi-trailers. The main cargo is grain which includes corn, wheat, barley, oats, and rye as well as iron, coal, petroleum, fertilizer, and sugar. If you have time, watch barges passing through a lock, you won't regret it.
 A whole bunch of small towns and villages that look like one another dot the shoreline of the river. 
Lots of birds live and migrate along the Mississippi River corridor. 
One of the points of interest in Minnesota is the National Eagle Center.
That's it from me. What was your experience at the Mississippi River like?

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