The Mississippi River has for centuries been the backbone of life in Helena; fertilizing its soil, supporting its farms and businesses, connecting people and cultures. Helena, built at the base of Crowley's Ridge, finds itself in a unique location along the river. Helena's founders recognized that the "higher ground" near the ridge provided a safe place to build. At the same time, they could enjoy the town's proximity to the water's edge.
Anatomy of a River
A delta is a triangle-shaped area of flat land formed by deposition of sediment of the mouth of the river.
How do we define the "Delta" in Helena?
The "Delta" region of eastern Arkansas, eastern Louisiana and western Mississippi is not a true river delta, but is the current or past floodplain of the Mississippi River. The true delta of the Mississippi River is south of New Orleans, where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico. Tributaries and streams meander over the landscape to feed the Mississippi River. The soils of the Delta re rich because of the sediments deposited by the rivers and streams as they make their way down to the Gulf of Mexico
Boosting our economy
Island waterways have become a vital part of America's economy. Each year, 624 million tons of cargo make
their way along the country's "marine highways." Even more important the nation's navigable rivers provide great energy savings.
Barges can move one ton of cargo 576 miles with a single gallon of fuel.
A railcar can move the same ton of cargo 425 miles.
A truck can carry it a mere 155 miles
American White Pelican
A vital habitat
The Mississippi River is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, plants and other wildlife. In addition to the river itself, wetlands and forests along the river's banks provide important wildlife habitat. The remaining floodplain of the river-the rich collection of habitats nourished by seasonal overflows-is 10 percent of its size before the erection of modern levees.
Some fascinating river facts
The Mississippi River begins at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, and ends at the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it flows 2,552 miles
When you combine the Mississippi with its longest tributary the Missouri River, the combined length is 3,870 miles, making it the world's forth-longest river system.
The river is the dominant watershed in North America, draining 41 percent of the contiguous United States.
At its source, the Mississippi River is less than three feet deep. By contrast, it is 200 feet deep in New Orleans.
The Mississippi River is only
20 to 30 feet wide at its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota
Did you Know?
The name "Mississippi" comes from the Algonquin language and means "Father of Waters."