A trip to the south wouldn’t be complete without a paddlewheel boat ride down the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is second longest river in North America; it takes a drop of water that joined the river at the beginning, in Minnesota, three months to pour out into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi is also one of the world’s most important commercial waterways. Barges the length of trains continue to be pushed with regularity through these waters. For thousands of years the Mississippi River has moved everyone from Native Americans to European explorers to fur traders to slaves to Abe Lincoln to Mark Twain. There is powerful history on this powerful river.
When the country was first developed by European settlers the direction of traffic followed the river, north to south, but with development of the east to west transcontinental railroad, bridges over the Great River had to be erected. Until this moment, Memphis, a town happily dependent on steamboats, had no bridges. The first two bridges built here were strictly train bridges. Times have changed but the excitement of being on the Mississippi hasn’t. And ringing the captain’s bell while soaking up the Mississippi River is just icing on the cake.