In the early history of the United States, the Mississippi River served as the westernmost border of the country until the Louisiana Territory was purchased from France in 1803. The Mississippi River travels through several states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The first explorers to travel the entire length of the Missouri River were Lewis and Clark.
The Colorado River flows 1,450 miles from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California.

Together with the Mississippi River, it forms the fourth largest river system in the world. Today the river is an important transportation waterway, carrying goods from the middle of the country to the port of New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico. The river played an important role in the early history of the American frontier as the major trails to the west, such as the Oregon and Santa Fe Trail, began at the Missouri River. Major tributaries of the Rio Grande include the Rio Conchos, the Rio Chama, and the San Juan River.

The river is an excellent source of power and is home to Grand Coulee Dam, the largest power producing dam in the United States.

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