Great stories about the Mississippi River

Illustration by Molly Snee

In the course of my career, I’ve written about the Mississippi River many times. In 2010, I biked down part of it to my high school reunion and wrote about the trip for Bicycling Magazine.. In 2013, I kayaked down a bit of it with a friend, JD Fratzke for Minnesota Monthly. In 2017, my family and I paddled from Minneapolis to Winona over a period of five days. That story was for Southwest Airlines Magazine, and has since vanished form the Internet.

As I was writing my most recent story on the river (The Epic Battle to Break the Mississippi River Canoe Record) I thought back to some of the great stories I’d read on the waterway. Here are a few of the best, along with a some of my favorite stories about canoeing elsewhere:

Mississippi River Journeys & Stories

Mississippi Drift: River vagrants in the age of Wal-Mart, By Matthew Power (Harper’s)

Sleeping by the Mississippi, by Alec Soth (Magnum). Click on the right side of the photos. More here.

57 Feet and Rising, by W. Hodding Carter (Outside)

Cast in Concrete: A graphic essay, by Martha Park (Oxford American)

Anyone for a Dip? By Hampton Sides (Outside)

Fish Out of Water: The Asian-carp invasion, by Ian Frazier (New Yorker)

Atchafalaya, by John McPhee (New Yorker)

Man vs. Nature: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, by Stephen Ambrose (National Geographic)

Dude Over Troubled Water, by John Galvin (Outside)

How The Water Shapes Us: A photo essay of the people and places within the Mississippi River basin (The Nature Conservancy)

Canoeing Stories

A Legendary 43-Year Family Canoe Story, by Nate Dappen (Paddling Magazine)

The Senseless Logic of the Wild, by Jon Mooallem (New York Times Magazine)

The Sky Is Burning: Caught in the Pagami Creek Fire, by Frank Bures (Outside)

Why He Kayaked Across the Atlantic at 70 (for the Third Time), by Elizabeth Weil (New York Times Magazine)

The Wayfarer: A solitary canoeist meets his fate, by Ben McGrath (New Yorker)

9,000 miles. Nearly three years. Mainly, by canoe, by Frank Bures (Star Tribune)