A tremendous amount. The Mississippi River is still, as it was in the 19th century, the empire road for goods and people transported by water in North America. From 1997 through 2006, the total amount of goods transported on the river exceeded 300 million tons annually; five ports alone on the lower Mississippi, including New Orleans, handled 418.2 million short tons of cargo in 2006. Sixty percent of all grain grown in the US is transported on the river, and the Mississippi is also the main means of transit for petroleum, iron, steel, grains, rubber, paper, wood, coffee, chemicals, coal and edible oils.
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