MISSOURI

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MISSOURI ; a very large river of the United States, which unites with the Mississippi a little below latitude 30°. It rises in the Rocky mountains, and takes the name Missouri in latitude 45° 10' N. and longitude 110° W., where the three branches, Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison, unite. The spring sources of the Missouri, and those of the Columbia which flow west to the Pacific, are within a mile of each other. The three head branches of the Missouri are navigable for a considerable distance before their junction. Where the river makes its escape from the Rocky mountains, it presents a scene of remarkable sublimity. For a distance of nearly six miles, the rocks rise perpendicularly from the water's edge, 1200 feet. The river is compressed to the width of 150 yards, where it rushes / through these gates of the Rocky mountains. About 110 miles from this chasm, are the stupendous cataracts of the Missouri. The greatest cascade is 87 feet perpendicular, and the next is 47. Within a space of 18 miles, the river descends 357 feet. These falls are almost the only obstruction to the navigation of the river, even to its head branches, 521 miles above the falls. These distances are given from Lewis and Clarke; and, according to their estimates, the whole length of the Missouri, above its junction with the Mississippi, is more than 3100 miles. Add to this the distance from the mouth of the Missouri to the gulf of Mexico, and the sum will be nearly 4400 miles. We have no means, at present, of giving a more probable estimate. The number of large rivers which flow into the Missouri is so great, that we can enumerate only a small part of them. Yellow Stone, Platte, Osage, and Kansas, are noticed separately. The Chienne is considered navigable by boats 800 miles; White river, 600; and several others are broad, deep streams, navigable for more than a hundred miles. Through most of its course, the Missouri is very rapid and turbid. The alluvial tract on its banks is narrower than that of the Mississippi. There are many settlements on the banks for 400 miles from its mouth, and a few are found more than twice that distance. Beyond the state of Missouri, the river and its branches have generally but narrow margins of fertile land. In many places, the prairies come even to their banks ; and emigrants pass onward, and leave such unpromising lands for future generations. The Missouri is much longer than the Mississippi before their junction, and has a much greater volume of water. It is about half a mile wide at its mouth, but is wider for a great part of its course.