MIssissippi River
Boyds Mills Press, 2002
ISBN 978-1563977022
Look for this book at your favorite library or used bookstore.
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  Mississippi River: A Journey Down the Father of Waters
written by Peter Lourie

The Mississippi River derives its name from Misizubi, an Algonquian word that means “Big River.” The Mississippi is indeed big, both in its geography and history. From its modest source at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, the Mississippi runs approximately 2,340 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second-longest river in the United States, exceeded only by the Missouri River. 

The river's tributaries and feeder streams stretch all the way from New York to Montana, from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. 

One September, Peter Lourie decided to explore the river by canoe, by bike, by car, and by foot. His adventure with the Big River becomes an encounter with the past and the present. The Mississippi remains a major commercial waterway, busy with tankers, tugs, and other big boats. But at the same time it is still the river of Mark Twain, full of mystery and natural beauty, with pine forests to the north and tropical mangroves in the south. Between these extremes flows a majestic river.

Behind the Book

Resources for Further Study

"Mississippi River Journal: In the Path of Hurricane Georges," Peter Lourie

Awards and Recognition

NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001

Feedback from Readers (thank you!)

June 30, 2014

Dear Mr. Lourie,

I was very impressed by your writing style while previewing your book titled Mississippi River for our boys to read. It was full of facts tucked inside the adventure and written in a style that made you feel like you had actually been a part of the trip. One could almost touch, taste and feel the waters of the Mississippi and the history behinds its making. As a home school mom I look for engaging stories that help my children want to explore, research, and express their interests through good writing and scientific discovery (journaling).


Mrs. Davis


“Intrepid explorer Lourie tackles the ‘Father of Waters,’ the Mighty Mississippi, traveling by canoe, bicycle, foot, and car, 2,340 miles from the headwaters of the great river at the Canadian border to the river's end in the Gulf of Mexico. As with his other ‘river titles’ (Rio Grande, 1999, etc.), he intertwines history, quotes, and period photographs, interviews with people living on and around the river, persona observations, and contemporary photographs of his journey. He touches on the Native Americans—who still harvest wild rice on the Mississippi, and named the river—loggers, steamboats, Civil War battles, and sunken treasure. He stops to talk with a contemporary barge pilot, who tows jumbo-sized tank barges, or 30 barges carrying 45,000 tons of goods up and down and comments: ‘You think ‘river river river’ night and day for weeks on end.’ Lourie describes the working waterway of locks and barges, oil refineries and diesel engines, and the more tranquil areas with heron and alligators, and cypress swamps. A personal travelogue, historical geography, and welcome introduction to the majestic river, past and present.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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