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The Mississippi River


The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States and the largest by volume. In Memphis, the river is both an attraction and a thoroughfare for commerce and transportation. Here is all you need to know about enjoying Old Man River.


The Mississippi River acts as the western border of Memphis. In downtown, it runs adjacent to Riverside Drive. Additionally, the Mississippi can be accessed by Interstates 55 and 40 and Meeman Shelby State Park.


  • Length: Approximately 2,300 miles
  • Width: 20 feet - 4 miles
  • Depth: 3 - 200 feet
  • Elevation: 0 - 1,475 feet above sea level
  • Speed: 1.2 - 3 miles per hour


Each day, a steady stream of barges can be seen travelling up and down the Mississippi. These cargo bearing vessels carry sixty percent of all grain exported from the United States. Other products being shipped via the river include petroleum and petroleum products, iron and steel, grain, rubber, paper and wood, coffee, coal, chemicals, and edible oils.

The Bridges:

There are two bridges from that connect Memphis to Arkansas by spanning the Mighty Mississippi.
  • The Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge carries Interstate 55 across the river to West Memphis. It is better known as the Old Bridge, as it opened in 1949.
  • The Hernando de Soto Bridge is shaped like the letter M and carries Interstate 40 across River to West Memphis. It is more commonly referred to as the New Bridge, as it opened in 1973.


There are almost 5 miles of public land along Memphis' banks of the Mississippi. These parks from north to south are:
  • Greenbelt Park
  • Mud Island River Park
  • Jefferson Davis Park
  • Confederate Park
  • Vance Park
  • Butler Park
  • Tom Lee Park
  • Ashburn-Coppock Park
  • Martyrs Park
  • Crump Park
  • Chickasaw Heritage Park


The Mississippi River and its adjacent land provide the perfect setting for numerous recreational activities. According to the Riverfront Development Corporation, some of the top river and river park uses include:
  • Water activities (canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and sailing)
  • Exercise (walking, jogging, running, and biking)
  • Family time (picnicking, kite flying, and model airplane flying)
  • Relaxation (reading, painting, meditating)

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