Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

One man is endeavoring to construct a machine that will pick cotton from the stalks, and is confident he will succeed.  Should he do so, his patent will be of the greatest value.  Owners of plantations have recently offered a present of ten thousand dollars to the first patentee of a successful machine of this character.

CHAPTER XLIII.

THE MISSISSIPPI AND ITS PECULIARITIES.

Length of the Great River, and the Area it Drains.—­How Itasca Lake obtained its Name.—­The Bends of the Mississippi.—­Curious Effect upon Titles to Real Estate.—­A Story of Napoleon.—­A Steamboat Thirty-five Years under Water.—­The Current and its Variations.—­Navigating Cotton and Corn Fields.—­Reminiscences of the Islands.

As railways are to the East, so are the rivers to the West.  The Mississippi, with its tributaries, drains an immense region, traversed in all directions by steamboats.  From the Gulf of Mexico one can travel, by water to the Rocky Mountains, or to the Alleghanies, at pleasure.  It is estimated there are twenty thousand miles of navigable streams which find an outlet past the city of New Orleans.  The Mississippi Valley contains nearly a million and a quarter square miles, and is one of the most fertile regions on the globe.

To a person born and reared in the East, the Mississippi presents many striking features.  Above its junction with the Missouri, its water is clear and its banks are broken and picturesque.  After it joins the Missouri the scene changes.  The latter stream is of a chocolate hue, and its current is very rapid.  All its characteristics are imparted to the combined stream.  The Mississippi becomes a rapid, tortuous, seething torrent.  It loses its blue, transparent water, and takes the complexion of the Missouri.  Thus “it goes unvexed to the sea.”

There is a story concerning the origin of the name given to the source of the Mississippi, which I do not remember to have seen in print.  A certain lake, which had long been considered the head of the Great River, was ascertained by an exploring party to have no claim to that honor.  A new and smaller lake was discovered, in which the Mississippi took its rise.  The explorers wished to give it an appropriate name.  An old voyageur suggested that they make a name, by coining a word.

“Will some of you learned ones tell me,” said he, “what is the Latin word for true?”

Veritas,” was the response.

“Well, now, what is the Latin for head

Caput, of course.”

“Now,” suggested the voyageur, “write the two words together, by syllables.”

A strip of birch bark was the tablet on which “ver-i-tas-ca-put” was traced.

“Read it out,” was his next request.

The five syllables were read.

“Now, drop the first and last syllables, and you have a name for this lake.”

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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