The Lure of the Mighty Mississippi
I wrote my senior thesis at Columbia on Mark Twain and the Mississippi. The professor set up a writing schedule that went on endlessly – and that I’ve never used since – for obvious reasons. We were instructed to write one short section at a time and then schedule a meeting so he could critique each one as the project moved along over the entire semester.
The paper received an “A” but I can’t remember a thing about the subject matter because I was so totally bored with the whole tortuous, paint-by-numbers routine. The outcome? I became more interested in the Mississippi than Mark Twain himself.
THE RIVER IS SPELLBINDING
When Peter and I visited New Orleans I made sure that our hotel was right on the Mississippi and high up so we could see everything. What astounded me more than anything was the ceaseless river traffic – there was a constant churning of every type of riverboat, cargo ship, towboat and barge one could imagine. Pure theatre!
THE CITY AND THE RIVER
New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in America. It boasts a 300-year history that’s unlike any other city in America. The Louisiana Purchase (1803) was a $15 million land deal between the United States and France that doubled the size of America. Its main purpose was to secure New Orleans and its port. Smart move.
HOW LONG IS THE RIVER?
§ The Mississippi twists its way from northern Minnesota to New Orleans through the heartland, growing considerably wider (and browner) the farther south one goes
§ It also lies in ten states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota
§ This is a distance of 2,320 miles (3,730 km) and is slightly shorter than the Missouri River
§ The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers form the longest river system in North America. It is also the fourth longest in the world
THE RIVER MADE MARK TWAIN
No novelist captured the muddy waterway and its people like this famous author who’s real name was Samuel Clemens. He created a pen name, Mark Twain, which is a riverboat term measuring two fathoms (12 ft.) the safe depth for a steamboat.
He was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri and worked as a printer, steamboat pilot and miner until he became a full-time journalist and went on to publish several novels, including two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (published in 1876 or 142 years ago) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (published in 1884 or 134 years ago). Both are still in print and available on Amazon.
COMING SOON: SOUTHERN DECADENCE -- 8/30 TO 9/3
This is one of the largest annual celebrations in New Orleans and has become known as the “Gay Mardi Gras.” In 2017, over 210,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks attended this event. Most street parties take place close to the French Quarter. The gay bars never close. The Bourbon Street Extravaganza is a free outdoor concert at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann – it will be returning in 2018 for its 14th Anniversary Show on Saturday, 9/1. Come and join in the fun. CLICK HERE for a free New Orleans Guidebook.