The Mississippi River runs through 10 different states, and it was a huge asset to both the Native Americans and the settlers that came after them. What some people might not know, though, is that there are dozens of interesting places to stop along the Mississippi to take in the history and culture of the area. Here are three of the best.
Delta Blues Museum - Clarksdale, Mississippi
Founded in 1979, the Delta Blues Museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and is expected to see many more. This museum celebrates the significant moments and important artists in the blues genre with pieces like the Muddy Waters Guitar, which was crafted from a piece of wood taken from the cabin of blues superstar Muddy Waters and used to make a guitar that has been used on stage by ZZ Top. It also has educational exhibits, such as "The Blues and the Great Migration," which teaches visitors how the blues evolved during a time when many people from the South were spreading out into the other states in America. If you come on the right day, you can even take in a live blues show.
National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium - Dubuque, Mississippi
There are no sharks or stingrays in the Mississippi River, but you can see both of these fish and more at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Mississippi. The aquarium is home to many sea animals you wouldn't see in this river, but they are there to help bring awareness to the conservation of all aquatic and animal life. In addition to sea turtles, otters, giant octopi, Alligator Snapping Turtles and alligators, you can also see a number of feathered friends that are native to the area, like Bald Eagles, Bufflehead Ducks and Red-tailed Hawks. In the museum portion of the structure, you can visit a blacksmith shop and cave exhibits and see historical artifacts from the people who have lived near the Mississippi River for the last thousand years.
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site - Wickliffe, Kentucky
While the other two places on this list celebrate the history of the area around the Mississippi River, the Wickliffe Mounds are this history. The mounds at this state historic site were built between 1110 and 1350 A.D. by a Mississippian Native American tribe. They were used as a more permanent type of housing than the teepees or straw huts used by other tribes, meaning that these people were here to stay. On this site, there are walking trails that take you through the surrounding wooded area where you can see the same types of wildlife as the native people did, as well as a museum that displays many of the artifacts that have been excavated by archaeologists in this area. And if that wasn't enough to convince you, you just can't beat the view from the top of the Ceremonial Mound, the largest mound in the park, that lets you look out over the vast expanse of nature all around you.