From the junction
of the Ohio to a point half way down to the sea, the width averages a
mile in high water: thence to the sea the width steadily diminishes,
until, at the 'Passes,' above the mouth, it is but little over half a
mile. At the junction of the Ohio the Mississippi's depth is eighty-
seven feet; the depth increases gradually, reaching one hundred and
twenty-nine just above the mouth.
The difference in rise and fall is also remarkable - not in the upper,
but in the lower river. The rise is tolerably uniform down to Natchez
(three hundred and sixty miles above the mouth) - about fifty feet. But
at Bayou La Fourche the river rises only twenty-four feet; at New
Orleans only fifteen, and just above the mouth only two and one half.
An article in the New Orleans 'Times-Democrat,' based upon reports of
able engineers, states that the river annually empties four hundred and
six million tons of mud into the Gulf of Mexico - which brings to mind
Captain Marryat's rude name for the Mississippi - 'the Great Sewer.' This
mud, solidified, would make a mass a mile square and two hundred and
forty-one feet high.
The mud deposit gradually extends the land - but only gradually; it has
extended it not quite a third of a mile in the two hundred years which
have elapsed since the river took its place in history.