Daylight river scene of cliffs to right and two steamships coming down river toward viewer. Trees at base of cliffs at right.
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in the United States. It originates at Lake Itasca, Minnesota and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. It took American colonists a century and a half to expand as far west as the Appalachian Mountains, a few hundred miles from the Atlantic coast and another fifty years to drive the frontier as far as the Mississippi River. Seeking cheap land and inspired by “manifest destiny” pioneers pushed the edge of settlement to Texas, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest by 1850. Maiden Rock Bluff protects one of Wisconsin’s premiere limestone cliff faces on a bluff high above the Mississippi River overlooking Lake Pepin. Extending for nearly a mile, the 400-foot high bluff is now home to nesting peregrine falcons, a state-endangered species. Maiden Rock Bluff was designated a Wisconsin State Natural Resource in 2004.