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Old 05-05-2008, 09:04 AM
Xema Xema is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 11,673
Originally Posted by Schnitte
I assume the source of the Mississippi is located somewhere in Minnesota
Yes - the source is considered to be Lake Itasca

Near St Louis, it is joined by the Missouri, which has its headwaters somewhere in Montana.
It acquires its name at Three Forks Montana, where the Madison, Gallatin and Jefferson Rivers join. The headwaters are considered to be those of the Jefferson River in southern Montana. Interestingly, for the first 100km the water flows WNW - directly away from the Mississippi-Missouri confluence.

Wouldn't it be more logical to say that the shorter river joins the longer one, defining the river below St Louis as the "Lower Missouri" and the Mississippi as the Missouri's tributary? I guess there is no "natural" of inherent way of telling which river joins which one; it's just two streams flowing together, resulting in one new stream
There's also the point that at the confluence, the flow of the Mississippi is often larger than that of the Missouri (Googling suggests the average ratio is 55-45). Prior to exploration it would have been natural to view the Mississippi as the more important.