Paul Bunyan was a giant lumberjack. When he stood up he could see all of Minnesota. He could see vast prairies to the west and south. He could see the huge forests to the north and east. Paul had a giant blue ox named Babe. One day Babe ran away, and Paul chased the ox all over Minnesota. They left thousands of giant footprints across the state. It rained heavily, and the footprints became lakes.
The legend of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox is well known in Minnesota. Forests once covered two-thirds of the state, and thousands of lumberjacks came to Minnesota to cut timber. At night, they told stories about Paul and Babe to explain the land and climate of Minnesota’s northern woods.
Mississippi takes its name from the Mississippi River. This mighty river forms the western boundary of the state. The name Mississippi comes from a Native American term that means “big river.”
Located in the southeastern United States, Mississippi is considered part of the Deep South. Mississippi became the 20th state of the United States, joining on December 10, 1817. Today, about 3 million people live in Mississippi. Jackson is the capital and largest city.
Missouri is nicknamed the Show Me State. In 1899, a Missouri congressman said, “I’m from Missouri. You’ve got to show me.” He meant that fancy words didn’t impress him. He and other Missourians wanted to see what people could do. They valued straight talk and common sense.
MARK TWAIN AND THE SHOW ME STATE
Missouri prides itself on its Show-Me nickname. Mark Twain, Missouri’s most famous citizen and one of America’s greatest writers, shared this dislike of fancy talk and false appearances. Twain described his adventures growing up in Missouri in several of his books, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this book, two runaways—the boy Huck Finn and the black slave Jim—develop a friendship as they float to freedom on a raft down the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River is the most important river in North America. It provided a major highway for early explorers of North America. Many cities grew up along it. Furs and farm goods traveled from these settlements down the river to markets. Today, more freight travels on the Mississippi than on any other waterway within the continent.
FATHER OF WATERS
The Mississippi is known as the Father of Waters. It splits the United States from north to south in the nation’s heartland. The Mississippi gathers waters from rivers that lie between the Appalachian Mountains in the East and the Rocky Mountains in the West.
The Missouri River has a great deal of mud in its waters. The river got its name from a Native American word meaning “dwellers of the big muddy.” Early white explorers referred to it simply as “The Big Muddy.” The nickname stuck.
THE PATH OF THE MISSOURI
The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. It is about 2,540 miles (4,090 kilometers) long. The Missouri begins its long downstream journey in the mountains of southwestern Montana. It ends its journey by flowing into the mighty Mississippi River near the city of St. Louis, Missouri.