The Mighty Mississippi (1998) s01e03 Episode Script

Episode 3

1 We're looking at one of the greatest waterways in the world.
The Mississippi River.
It flows through the history of a country, creating an abundance and destroying without mercy.
And playing a central role in the most dramatic events in the life of a nation.
I'm continuing my travels along its 2,500 miles.
Starting in the Gulf of Mexico, I'm tracing the river's course right up through the American south and then into the states of the mid-west, before reaching the river's source in northern Minnesota.
It's a fascinating journey of exploration and discovery.
It's a monster.
It really is.
It is the Mighty Mississippi.
It is.
To follow the river like this is to move through time and history.
I've never seen a staircase like that anywhere.
From the birth of America and the most painful chapters of life in the deep south to the preoccupations of cities further north.
I talk to witnesses to dramatic events in recent American history.
Well, it was one shot which rang out across the world.
Isn't that something? That is.
Did you say there was a black man In the White House.
What's he doing there? Exactly! I see how the river has influenced the culture of millions.
She looks great.
Oh, lovely.
Oh, Lord Oh, I feel Like going home Alors, cherie! That is astonishing.
They respond by name.
And I begin to understand how this wild and unpredictable river became such a vibrant liquid highway.
I'm on the final leg of my American odyssey.
And about to follow a section of the river that reflects a more modern America.
How is this great country, with its power, its extraordinary cast of characters and its traditions facing up to an ever-changing world? I've come some 1100 miles, from the Gulf of Mexico to the mid-west.
My first stop is the city of St Louis, Missouri.
This is the 4th of July.
Independence Day - the national day of the United States.
St Louis has been called Baseball City USA.
It's the home of the Cardinals, one of the oldest baseball clubs in the country.
It's match day, and the players are warming up for a big game.
One of the local heroes is David Freese.
Trevor McDonald.
Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
How's it going? Not bad at all.
How's it going for you? Good.
It's hot.
Very hot.
And this is THE American game, isn't it? This is what what makes one American, almost.
I think um you know, every young boy and girl, they're out there playing softball and baseball.
I think every kid, at some point, wants to be a Major League baseball player.
So we're out here living our dreams, and it's pretty exciting.
And, in a way, it's part of the American dream, really, as well.
Yeah, absolutely.
Um You know, America you know, the fuel is baseball.
It keeps this country going.
David Freese is right.
Baseball has been called the greatest single force working for America.
And for more than 100 years, Cardinals' supporters have had much to celebrate.
Mike Shannon played for the Cardinals in the 1960s.
He remembers their success and the many people he met.
So there's that one up there with er Gosh.
Frank Sinatra.
Sammy Davis Junior.
I'd seen Frank out in Vegas, and I've seen uh Sammy Davis in Washington, and so uh you know.
And we had mutual friends.
Was Frank a baseball fan? Yes.
Oh, big time.
Some pictures of your playing days there.
That picture there - that's the first million dollar team.
Wow! That's the first million dollar team.
Now they have guys that don't even play that make $1 million.
Baseball began as an amateur sport, when players were banned from receiving any financial reward.
Today, the St Louis Cardinals can pay their players many millions.
And what about the most expensive players on the team? I mean, how much would they be worth? Well, uh right now, we have people that are make eight, ten million dollars a year.
But we have one player, Albert Pujols, and some people say that he's gonna sign a contract that's uh worth maybe $300 million.
OK? He will be the highest paid player, most likely, in the game at the end of this year.
And the game can sustain that kind of wage structure, can it? Oh, yeah.
Oh easily.
And it's nice to know that this city still has this this hold on what is a world-ranking baseball team.
It is.
This Whoever owns this franchise, they don't really own it.
They're the ones that They're custodians.
If you tried to uh to sell this this franchise and take it away from this city, there'd be the greatest riot you've ever seen.
It cannot be done.
The game has always had the virtue of attracting families.
And stadiums like this have become theatres of Americana.
Equally important to this city is its famous Gateway Arch.
A reminder that St Louis was once a frontier town, from where immigrants and settlers left to conquer and subdue the wild west.
One of the most enduring and exceptional qualities or American life throughout the ages has been its ability to attract and absorb people from every corner of the world.
And yet another more modern chapter in this immigration story is being written here in St Louis.
Forest Park is one of the more popular places for wedding couples to have their pictures taken.
These newlyweds all came to America to escape the ravages of the Bosnian Civil War.
An hour or so before, this couple were married in a Bosnian Muslim ceremony.
When did you decide to get married? He proposed on my birthday, on my 21st birthday.
Oh, how very charming.
How very romantic.
- And you said? - Yes.
I didn't believe him at first.
Why not? I don't know.
I just thought he was joking when he proposed.
And do you now feel that you have got married in a foreign country, or in the country that you've adopted as your own now? I think it feels like the country we've adopted as our own.
I feel at home here.
St Louis now has the largest community of Bosnians anywhere in the country.
50,000 of them live in what's been called Little Bosnia.
Businessman Ibrahim Vajsevic gives me a vivid description of how successfully his compatriots have settled here.
We're driving by Bosnian businesses.
This is a Bosnian cafe.
This is a big restaurant owned by Bosnians, Bosnian businesses.
Travel agency.
An area once in decline is now thriving with all things Bosnian.
On the right, we have attorneys, Bosnian attorneys.
This is Bosnian Chamber of Commerce.
Everything from here is owned by Bosnians.
You've taken over.
You've colonised this part of the city.
Actually, this part of the city was kind of dying off in the '90s.
So it was uh mutual benefit.
It was win-win.
It was good for the city, and it was good for Bosnians.
Ibrahim takes me to a coffee shop that's a favourite with the locals.
I'll introduce you to some people.
It's much larger than you think.
Thank you very much.
These people who came here from Central Europe are now proud to call themselves Americans.
Having successfully overcome the problems faced by immigrants throughout the ages.
What were those early days like? How did you find settling in? The early days, when I look from this point, they were tough for all of us.
First of all, we couldn't speak English.
And then, we made just little money.
It was entry level jobs for most of us.
So we were surviving.
But we knew that we would succeed eventually.
If we work hard, if we go to school, if we improve our language skills.
And most of us did.
But when you look around, when you walk down here, these streets and so on, and see all these Bosnian businesses, Bosnian-owned businesses, er, that must induce in you a feeling of some quiet pride.
Of course.
I'm very proud to see that.
And then, sometimes I probably stress that too much.
'This is Bosnian business, this is Bosnian business.
' But it's inside me.
I'm so proud to have our people succeed in this country.
Especially knowing what happened to us in the '90s, after the the terrible genocide that happened against my nation and my country.
I'm proud that they are good Americans.
'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.
' Those words of the poem written on the base of the Statue of Liberty are now so appropriate to the Bosnians, who can now join the celebrations of their adopted country's independence day.
I'm continuing my journey north.
And I'm heading to a place that has done more than any other to sell the Mississippi's fame to the world.
I'm following the course of the great river, to explore how the characters and traditions of old still have a relevance to 21st century American life.
100 miles north of St Louis is a small town with a large reputation.
One of its former inhabitants, almost single-handedly created all the romance that surrounds the Mississippi.
This is Hannibal, a town on the River Mississippi, birthplace and home of one Sam Clemens.
He worked on the river here and wrote about it under the name Mark Twain.
In the 1880s, Mark Twain, who grew up here, wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
It's a novel about the relationship between Huck Finn and a fugitive slave.
Their escaping down the Mississippi came to be part of the spirit of American frontier society.
Mark Twain's novels felt authentic because he once piloted steamboats on the Mississippi.
Like the author, Captain Steve Terry grew up here in Hannibal.
Of course, he's quintessentially associated with this river, because his very name comes comes from the river.
Tell me about that.
Well, you know, um As he was growing up, he would here the leadsman call.
The leadsman was the gentleman who would tell the pilot how deep the water was.
And he'd drop that line or that rope in the water and it was marked off every six feet, or every fathom.
And if they had two marks go down in the water, the pilot would holler, or the leadsman would holler to the pilot, mark twain! Well, the pilot was excited.
Cos that was 12 foot of water and he knew he had enough to run the boat through.
It sounds a really great name, thinking how it was derived.
It's quite extraordinary, really.
Because it's a lovely name for a writer, Mark Twain.
Oh, yes.
Given the Mark Twain connection, it's not surprising that steamboats have become one of the most powerful images of life on the Mississippi.
There were once some 1200 of these old boats on the river.
They ranged from luxurious floating palaces and gambling dens to the cargo carriers that helped build the American economy.
Do many people make their living on the river these days? Not as many as there used to be.
You know, in the old days of Sam Clemens' time, all the boys in town dreamed of being steamboat pilots.
And now, there's a shortage of pilots.
It's not as glamorous as it used to be.
The river is more placid here than it is, say, further down south.
But one gets the feeling that people who work on the river always have this great respect for the Mighty Mississippi.
Oh, absolutely.
And if you lose respect for the river, it will get you - every time.
It looks so pleasant on a morning like this.
It's absolutely gorgeous, isn't it? Oh, yes.
Would you like an opportunity? Well, I'll try.
I can't possibly imitate the great Mark Twain.
But it's wonderful to even get one's hands on the wheel like this.
It's lovely.
So, what do you think? Well, it doesn't seem to be responding to what I'm doing.
But I hope it is.
It's very slow.
Let's bring her to starboard a little bit.
To the right there.
Let's take it about five spokes to the right.
Swing us back into the wind.
I can see it now.
There we go.
She's coming back now.
But it required about five turns of the of the wheel to do that.
It's a great feel now.
It is a gorgeous way to spend the day.
Oh, it is.
It's very calm and very contemplative.
Very Very soothing.
The river is still a vital route for cargo today.
And these barges are now the workhorses.
100 years after his death, the name Mark Twain is still famous on the river.
Missouri was a slave state during his time.
But his Mississippi managed to evoke thoughts of escape and freedom.
My next stop owes nothing to the romance and adventure of Mark Twain's days.
Leaving Missouri and travelling through Illinois, I'm heading for the state of Iowa.
150 miles north of Hannibal is an island in the middle of the river.
It's called Rock Island.
A clue to what goes on here is in the name of the bridge.
Arsenal Bridge.
And indeed, Rock Island is one of the largest weapons manufacturing facilities in the world.
7,000 people work here, building armaments for the American war machine.
And it all takes place on this well guarded 950 acre island.
Sir Trevor.
Thank you so much.
It's a great pleasure to be here.
I get a rare opportunity to look around under the watchful eye of Colonel James Fly, veteran of America's campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Precisely what happens here? Well, this is a vertically integrated metal manufacturing facility.
And what that means is that we start with scrap iron, scrap steel, and we make a we machine it, we heat-treat it, we forge it, we cast it, and we end up with a Howitzer on the other end.
You can see, here's a uh One that comes in from the field.
Kinda rough.
It came in from storage in the desert, like in Barstow, California - mothball storage.
These gentlemen are reconditioning it.
It's being painted sand-coloured for the Iraqi Army.
So that they can take over the fight in Iraq and we can bring our folks home.
So you're going to supply these here Yes.
Don't shoot! No, no.
Don't shoot.
And you have the capacity to make as many of these as they demand? As many as they demand, Yes.
That's kind of the flexibility of the arsenal Sure.
In support of the nation.
Rock Island has supplied weapons for every major conflict in which the United States has been involved since the Civil War.
The first American tank was built on this island.
And the weapons manufactured here were an important factor in the defeat of the Nazis by US and Allied forces in World War II.
One of its main functions today is to devise armour to protect American troops against unconventional weapons and enemies.
Over here, you see this uh Humvee.
The Highly Mobile Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
We've built over 50% of the armour kit that goes on these vehicles.
Everything you see, from what protects the gunner on top, the turret, the side doors You are really in the firing line here.
Because there are usually controversies about how safe these armour kits are.
In 2003 I was in Northern Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.
Supporting them.
And the uh We had no armour.
You know.
At the end of the invasion.
That's right.
That was up in Mosul.
And this facility, in 45 days, put out the first armour kits.
And I saw them come in in Northern Iraq.
It's just a a huge morale effect, at least, when you're up there with nothing and they're starting to put explosive devices by the road.
There were complaints from soldiers about the lack of armour.
We were out in the field making armour from steel we got through Europe from Turkey.
And shooting bullets at it.
And then finally the cavalry came.
And the cavalry turned out to be this arsenal.
Rock Island's importance to the US military, and its position on the Mississippi, are a perfect fit.
And, Colonel, the relationship to this facility, erm to the Mississippi, how important is that? It's important in terms of manufacturing.
It gives us a great advantage in shipping products.
The barges, the traffic that goes up and down the river, it makes some of our shipments very economical.
Especially with higher gas prices.
Touring around the arsenal, it's noticeable that the weapons technology employed here is a mixture of the most modern and the traditional.
On this firing range, for example, Bill Piper shows me a machine gun still in use today, although it was designed about 100 years go.
What kind of gun is this? And what sort of application might we associate with it? You would see this, very typically, on top of a Humvee.
On a weapons stand.
Or out of a helicopter.
It is the most widely used machine gun in the world today.
It's the Browning M2 50 calibre machine gun.
It was designed in the 1920s.
But it is such a great weapon that it has survived all these years.
And this is where the tests occur, hence the noise we can hear.
They're testing another weapon in the other lane.
Somebody's nice day just came to a rather nasty end.
Rock Island has played its part in defending American interests for 140 years.
At a time when the world is so concerned about international terrorism, this place is unlikely to lose its importance.
Leaving Iowa, I'm following the Mississippi north, as it meanders through Wisconsin, and then all the way up to the state of Minnesota.
And I'm about to visit a city that's consistently voted one of the finest places to live in America.
I'm following the course of the Mississippi.
And I've come to what's considered one of America's most beautiful cities.
400 miles north of Rock Island is the city of Minneapolis in Minnesota.
We're now just about 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, down south, where we began tracking the Mighty Mississippi.
And this is Minneapolis.
The last big city on the river.
Minneapolis boasts that it provides the best of everything America has to offer.
Quality of life is rated excellent.
Unemployment is low.
And there's very little crime.
At City Hall, I meet the mayor, RT Reibach.
He tells me Minneapolis owes its economic wellbeing to the Mississippi.
Mr Mayor, tell me the story of this.
The Father of Waters was originally built for New Orleans.
For some reason, they didn't want him.
We loved Father Waters, so they brought him up and put him in here.
And uh he's presided over everything that's happened in City Hall.
Apparently, if you rub his toe, it's good luck.
Often I rub it twice a day, hoping it'll help a little more.
In geographical terms, it's not as wide, or it's not as prominent as it is further down south.
The Mississippi is is beautiful here in Minneapolis.
But it is not awesome.
It is not uh overwhelming.
It's a place that is part of the city.
But the river's role in the economic life of this city has changed over the years, hasn't it? Oh, absolutely.
This is the symbol of the the river.
Minneapolis is here because it's the site of the only natural waterfall on the Mississippi.
That became uh the power that helped turn the mills that turned this into the milling capital of the world.
And then those mills diversified to become corporate giants, like General Mills and Pillsbury.
That's why Minneapolis has a strong economy.
That's why the city is here.
And now the city is re-embracing the riverfront.
Minneapolis may re-embrace the river today.
But its character and its beauty are shaped by its lakes.
This is the city of lakes.
1,000 of them surround Minneapolis.
Some are havens for wildlife.
Others are there simply to be enjoyed.
Messing about on boats.
One of the finest is Lake Minnetonka.
Ownership of a house along this shore is a rather splendid way of telling the world you've made it.
Dave Cormack has been living on the lake for 10 years.
Dave, this is the city of lakes.
But tell me about this lake.
Lake Minnetonka is the 10th largest lake in the state.
It's roughly an area of 12 miles by seven miles.
This entire lake freezes over in the winter time.
Some people don't realise that.
Average ice thickness is about two to three feet thick.
They drive cars out here, plough streets out here.
Little ice fishing villages pop up all over the lake.
We have golf tournaments on the ice.
The Chilly Open in Wayzata is an 18 hole golf tournament that takes place on the ice.
They plough fairways and greens and they paint everything green.
It's pretty unique.
Looking around, this place seems to ooze a sense of wellbeing.
Well done wellbeing.
Well done wellbeing.
Well done wellbeing.
Money talks around here.
Uh money has a lot to do with what's around here, yes - it's a very popular lake.
Looking at some of the houses, they all seem at least architecturally designed.
I mean, they look special.
Oh, definitely.
They do look special.
Cookie cutter doesn't really fit on the lake out here.
There are a lot of different styles and different flavours.
From some Frank Lloyd Wright styled homes to uh You know.
Architects from around the country have come out here to design a lot of homes.
Dave Cormack translates the sumptuous style of these lakeside properties into dollars and cents.
How much do you think it is? It's about nine to 11 million for that one.
What about this one there? At today's value, probably around four to six.
$4 to $6 million.
It's got an indoor swimming pool down below.
Look at that place! He's got his little boathouse down here by the water.
It's also done in the pattern of the main house.
It's the size of an average home.
And a place like that would be about, what? Back when it was built, probably12 million.
Today's value, probably in the upper 20s.
That's a lot of bucks.
That's a lot of money.
That's a lot of money.
Everyone you meet tells you life is good in Minneapolis.
The population is young and well educated, with more college degrees than the national average.
The University of Minnesota has been an important influence in all that.
But it also started something that's become part of the American image.
These are the Golden Gophers.
One of the country's top cheerleading squads.
It's also one of the largest, with 85 members, 11 of whom are male.
But cheerleading was once an all male preserve.
Given the way it's seen today, that is something of a surprise.
Some of the most famous men in America were once cheerleaders.
Including presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George W Bush.
And then everybody take a letter.
Carrying on the tradition today is squad coach Beth Davenport.
This started out as a a male preserve, wasn't it? Yes, it did.
When did that change? It changed when the war happened and the men went out to war.
And the women stepped in and became the cheerleaders at that time.
Then, once the war ended, the males came back and, ironically, the cheerleading ended up being a co-ed sport at that time.
So men and women both worked together to cheer the fans on and cheer the team on to win the game.
And how long do these young people take to getting anywhere near to the standard that they should reach? It's kind of interesting.
Um the dancers, for instance, they usually start when they're about three years old.
Three years old? Yeah.
They have a very strong technical background and started very young.
The cheerleaders are a bit different.
The women usually come in with a gymnastics background.
And the men tend to be from a different sport.
Some of them come from cheerleading.
But others come from football or basketball or wrestling.
And then we take their athleticism and we teach them some of the basics for cheerleading.
The manoeuvres are so slick and accomplished with such precision that you hardly ever think of the possibility of mistakes.
What is the main attraction of it for you? I find it to be really fun, really almost thrilling, in a way, being thrown up so high in the air.
And caught.
It's almost like a rollercoaster ride, but with people instead.
Brandon, you started out wanting to be a football player.
I played high school.
I played my first year here, actually, in college.
Got hurt and then it's the next closest.
The best way to get on the field, instead of sitting in the stands.
My dear boy, how did you end up doing this? That's a good question.
Um I think I accidentally stumbled on the gym one day and I tried it one time and it's kind of addicting.
You throw one girl and you wanna throw all of 'em, I guess.
Throwing the girls is your interest.
And the competition aspect, I guess.
But yeah.
And people say there's an athleticism to it all.
Which one can see vaguely.
But it doesn't resemble anything to do with the rough and tumble and the sort of you know, more physical side of a game like football.
It is and it isn't at different times.
There's like, for us, like, when you go to throw a girl, it's a full body toss.
But there's a finesse, because you have to catch somebody and you can't fool around.
So it kind of has a little bit of both - finesse mixed with power.
But it's not like a huge contact sport.
You've never dropped anybody.
Uh n You're not quite sure about that, are you? I get the feeling that maybe you came close.
Or maybe you have.
Some pretty good saves.
Put it that way.
Two words came to my mind, watching the squad training.
Teamwork and trust.
You wanna try to go up in an elevator? What's an elevator.
Show him what an elevator is.
Let's go! Right there.
So you'd be up on top right there.
I'll do that.
Oh! Whoo-hoo! Let's go! When we come down, we're going to say, 'One, two, dip, come together.
' And then we'll let you down slow.
OK, guys.
Good, Scott.
Kyle, get in here.
And Scott too.
OK? They're gonna take your feet.
And they're just gonna lift you up.
You guys have a lot to lift here.
I don't know about that.
Put all your weight on us, sir.
You can step on my hands.
Step on your hands.
Step on their hands.
We have you.
You have me? I'm gonna hold on tight here.
Hold on as tight as you want.
There you go.
Now stand up.
They're just gonna lift you up.
Whoo! OK.
Stand up straight.
We got you.
They got you.
There you go.
Keep going.
Stand up.
They got you.
Stand straight up.
They have you.
Stand up straight.
We got you.
Now you gotta smile.
There you go.
Got it.
Coming down.
Grab my head or my shoulder.
There we go.
See? It's easy, isn't it? It was easy for me.
But these guys, having to take all this weight on.
Oh, no.
Cheerleading has been adopted in other countries.
But it will always be closely identified with American life.
My time in Minneapolis is nearly over.
And the end of my journey is now in sight.
My ultimate goal, the source of the Mississippi, is only a tantalising 200 miles away.
I'm in Minneapolis, on the final part of my journey to the source of the Mississippi.
But there's one other aspect of modern American life that commends itself.
In this land of consumerism, I'm about to visit its ultimate temple.
This is the biggest shopping mall in the United States.
Almost half of the 40 million people who come to shop here every year are tourists, from as far away as Japan and the United Kingdom.
The vice president of public relations at the mall, Dan Jasper, agreed to show me around.
It appears that there is almost anything you can want in this place.
You know, if you have a dollar to spend, or $10,000, or if you're three years old or 103, there's something here for you at Mall of America.
Looking around, it does appear that you have survived the recession rather well.
We actually have.
We went into the recession with a plan.
And believe it or not, every single year of the recession, our sales and our traffic were up.
So we did a very good job at being promotional, top of mind, at really reaching out to our guests, our international guests, and saying, 'Now's the time to come and visit.
' And they responded.
What are the other features? I mean, people can get married in here, and so on.
People can get married.
We have our own wedding chapel at Mall of America.
We've had more than 5800 weddings, including some really unique ones.
We had a wedding in the shark tank.
In the shark tank? Yeah.
Down in our aquarium, we have sharks.
And the bride was in her full white dress with Scuba gear.
The groom was in his black tux with Scuba gear on.
The pastor was in Scuba gear.
They did it all underwater with sharks swimming around them.
I hope that's not a metaphor for the relationship going forward.
Well, they weren't bitten.
So that might be good.
So, you can shop, your children can be entertained, and, if you so choose, you can get married here.
In the company of sharks.
A more conventional ceremony is about to take place in the Chapel of Love.
Its manager is Felicia Glass-Wilcox.
What is it that makes people decide they want to get married in a shopping mall? OK.
Obviously, tourists love it.
It's a destination for them when they're travelling.
Um, the other thing would be second marriages, who don't wanna do a big ceremony again.
Uh, people of, of who wanna save money.
You know.
Don't have a large budget.
Also, people of mixed faiths.
That's another really big one.
Because it's hard to find somebody who'll marry you.
So you're satisfying a demand and people don't mind the fact that it's in a place which smells a lot of consumerism.
It is unique, isn't it? Yeah.
I think it scares a lot of people away cos they think it's an odd location.
But once you're in there, it is no different than any other chapel.
Christina Lofgren made the eight hour journey from North Dakota to marry Emmanuel Reyes.
Emmanuel, do you take this woman to be your wife? And do you promise to love, cherish and honour her committing yourself to be her husband? I do.
Emmanuel is about to join the army in a few days.
So the chapel offered a quick and easy option.
Christina and Emmanuel, congratulations to you.
Thank you.
Did it live up to everything you expected? Yeah.
I was a little nervous, but it went really well.
You're still nervous? Yeah.
Now, whose decision was it to get married in this shopping mall? Uh I came up with the idea.
I came and talked to him about it.
And we came down and looked at it.
And then we thought it was really nice and decided to go with it.
And how did you sell the idea of getting married here to Emmanuel? Well, since he leaves for basic training August 1st He's going into the army.
It seemed like the easiest thing to do.
Well, congratulations to you both, and I hope you have a very long and happy life.
Thank you.
This shopping mall is a classic example of the highly successful empires that the Mississippi has helped to create in countless cities along its banks.
I'm now heading out of Minneapolis to the source of the river.
These last 200 miles will take me almost to the Canadian border.
The river here is modest and serene, with no suggestion of its darker moods, when it can be so sweepingly destructive.
My adventure, which began in the deep south, followed the river through the southern states and the mid-west.
And, after 2,500 miles, I've finally arrived at the source of the Mississippi, on the edge of Lake Itasca.
And this, right here, believe it or not, just where you can see that line of rocks and the water trickling through, is where the mighty Mississippi begins its life.
Following the river through many small towns and large cities has provided many surprises because of its staggering beauty.
And many a shock too, because of its awesome destructive force.
The river has been a witness to some of the most turbulent times in early American history.
And a witness too to the changing face of contemporary American life.
Following this mighty river has been a most extraordinary experience.
On my travels, I've met a range of fascinating characters.
I gotta give it to you first.
No, no.
You're not listening.
I'm not doing it.
Alors, Cherie! Don't shoot! No, no.
Don't shoot.
I learned that the only way to escape the river's fury is to live as far away from it as possible.
Just looking at this, I mean, it's a It's almost a kind of apocalyptic scene.
It's horrendous.
Yes, sir.
It is.
You could sink one of these vessels in this river in30 seconds.
In the deep south, I saw the rich culture in cities along the banks of the Mississippi.
Oh, Lord Oh, I feel Like going home In Memphis, I was taken to the motel where a great American leader was killed by a sniper.
And I hollered to them, 'Call an ambulance on your police radio.
Dr King has been shot.
' In Trenton, I talked to the girlfriend of one of America's greatest rock and roll idols.
I dated him steadily for a year.
He never dated anyone steadily.
But uh You were aware of that? Yes.
And in Minnesota, I tried something I'd never done before.
Now you've gotta smile.
There you go.
You've got it.
It's been an enormous thrill to follow the course of this mighty river, winding slowly through the history of the United States.