Missouri River, Facts and Historic Maps by Lisa Middleton

Text and Map Images courtesy of Great River Arts, Kalispell, Mountana.  All rights reserved.
Missouri River: THE MISSOURI RIVER is considered to be the longest stream of river in the US is the Missouri River which begins at Three Forks, Montana (elevation 4,032 feet) and flows 2,714 miles to near St. Louis, Missouri. Many people consider the Missouri to be the main reach of the Mississippi River!  
ThMissouri River Ribbon Mape Missouri River, flowing east and then south for thousands of miles is North America’s longest river. It is a gem of natural resources and a vital transportation pathway. Nicknamed the “Big Muddy” and “Dark River” because of its silt material, the river begins at the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. The river flows across eastern Montana, then continues through the center of the Dakotas on its southern trek, before becoming the state line between Nebraska and Iowa, then dividing Kansas from  Missouri. The Missouri travels east again across the upper part of the state that carries its name before entering the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis.The Missouri River valley was the home of several Native American tribes around 1500,  including the Mandan, Arikara, Missouria, Lakota, Hidatsa, and Otoe, among others. French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, in 1673, were the first Europeans to see the Missouri River. However, it was the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) that produced the most promise and paved the way for the Missouri River to define the American Frontier. The discovery of a navigable Missouri River route made possible the growth of the fur trade in the  early 1800s. Fur trappers in the upper Missouri River basin bartered iron, brass, knife, blankets, cloth, metal, firearms, metal containers, and even alcohol with Indians, for beaver pelts and the hides of bison and buffalo.The function of the Missouri River has changed over time, and today, tourism and recreation are the two key features of the river. Kayaking, canoeing, bird watching, camping, fishing, and hiking are some of the activities that can be enjoyed on or along the river. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which crosses eleven U.S. states and retraces the course of Louis and Clark Expedition, is a feature attraction along the Missouri River. Still, the Missouri River flows through or past many National Historic Landmarks including the Big Hidatsa Village Site in North Dakota, and Montana’s Fort Benton, among others. There is plenty to explore and enjoy!

Click here to read about Lisa’s new rendition of the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition! 

Lewis and Clark Expedition Map 1804-1806

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Ohio River, Custom Ribbon Map by Lisa Middleton

c Pat Middleton, greatriver.com

Numerous overnight cruising paddleboats are once more cruising the Ohio River! Our single most popular map of the Mississippi is a Ribbon from 1887 designating all the towns along the river… and map artist, Lisa Middleton, now makes her hand-painted RIBBON MAP of the OHIO RIVER available to all!
Click map image below to visit www.greatriverarts.com>Shop>Ohio River

Ohio River Ribbon Map

Ohio River provided by www.greatriverarts.com

The Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River, extending roughly 900 miles downstream and ending in Cairo, Illinois. Throughout time, the Ohio River has been called many names by different civilizations. The Shawnees called it Spaylaywitheepi, the Miami tribes, the Causisseppione, the Delawares, Kitonosipi, and the French, La Belle Riviére, meaning “the beautiful river.” It was called the “River Jordan” by slaves escaping to freedom in the North using the Underground Railroad in early 1800s. The name Ohio comes from the Iroquois word, “O-Y-O,” meaning “the great river”.

As early as 700 B.C., the first humans on the river were the Adena culture, followed by the Hopewell culture around 400 B.C. The Adena culture made their mark on the land erecting unique conical burial mounds along the river’s course and its tributaries. The Hopewells had larger earthen mounds in the same area as the Adenas. Later, the Shawnees, Cherokees, Iroquois, and Miamis, used the Ohio River at different periods as a site to launch violent raids, dubbing the river the “River of Blood” by the tribes.

In the 1670s, the French established trading posts along the Ohio River tributaries, including the Beaver, Wabash, and the Scioto Rivers — but the Ohio River remained unexplored. The first European to see the Ohio River was Frenchman Rene Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle in 1669. By the 1880s, the Ohio River became an important commercial route, and also a transportation route for families who migrated to establish settlement in the West.

Today, the Ohio River continues to serve as a major artery for transporting coal, grain, steel, and manufactured articles. The Ohio River is still important to communities, providing drinking water and as well as boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports.

Other available fine art Ribbon Maps include The Mississippi River and the Missouri River. Please click links to view maps and Tributary information!

We also have two FRENCH maps available with details of the OHIO RIVER. Both Maps are also Rich in Mississippi River info. (To study maps at greatriverarts.com use the Hi Rez magnifying glass that pops up when you hold your cursor over an image.)

Les Etats Unis late 16th Century

Les Etats Unis 1781

Carte de La Louisiane.  Early 16th CenturyCarte De La Louisiane, French United States c.1731

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Twilight Riverboat offers Overnight Cruise in 2012

We often have inquiries as to which riverboats might offer an overnight Mississippi River Cruise. I just heard from the Twilight that they will offer a 166 mile Mississippi River cruise between Le Claire and Dubuque, Iowa, which will include:

• All Meals, Snacks, plus complimentary Coffee, Tea & Lemonade
• On-Board Entertainment
• Overnight Accommodations at the Riverfront Grand Harbor Resort
• Shore Tours & Transportation
• Admission to the Iowa’s #1 Tourist attraction:  
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

You can check out their website at www.riverboattwilight.com


The American Queen is Back on the River in 2012!

Now here is some REALLY GOOD NEWS!

The largest steamboat in the world was recently purchased by The Great American Steamboat Company  based in Memphis, Tenn., and it will return to America’s rivers next year.

The steamboat, which is 419 feet long and 90 feet high, holds 436 passengers was purchased for $15.5 million. It was launched in 1995 at a cost of over $65 million, but has been laid up in Beaumont, Texas since 2008, after the Majestic America Line decided to discontinue its cruise business.

“Our plans with it are to restore the service and return it back to its historical roots,” Greg Brown, executive vice-president of the Great American Steamboat Company, said.

“For two years we’ve been working on purchasing the American Queen, so this is the product of a couple years worth of work.” Brown said the American Queen will travel the “greatest hits routes” it used to travel, as well as some of the popular routes once traveled by the Mississippi and Delta Queens. He said itinerary for the American Queen will depend on the season, and it will travel the Mississippi River and many of its surrounding tributaries.

“We have it in the plans to get on the Ohio River for the Kentucky Derby season,” Brown said. “I think we’re a couple weeks away from having a firm schedule and brochure.”

Getting the American Queen up and running is expected to create more than 250 jobs, with 160 of those employees working on the steamboat at all times. Before starting out on cruises, Brown said the American Queen will undergo a $5 million renovation project. He said “she’s in very good condition,” but needs a new coat of paint, some machinery work, new dishes and bath towels, among other things.

Hurrah! for the Great American Steamboat Company. Hurrah! for America Rivers. :-)


“Toots,” the original RIVERLORIAN for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company has written a memoir of the last cruise of the American Queen. Click link to visit.

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