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The Wapsipinicon River (locally known as the Wapsi) is a tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately 300 miles (480 km) long,[1] in northeastern Iowa in the United States. It drains a rural farming region of rolling hills and bluffs north of Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. The initial syllable rhymes with "pop".

Wapsipinicon River
Wapsie River, Wabespinicon River, Wapsiepinnecon River
Country US
State Iowa
Districts Scott County, Iowa, Clinton County, Iowa, Cedar County, Iowa, Jones County, Iowa, Linn County, Iowa, Buchanan County, Iowa, Black Hawk County, Iowa, Bremer County, Iowa, Chickasaw County, Iowa, Howard County, Iowa, Mitchell County, Iowa, Mower County, Minnesota
 - coordinates 43°32′55″N 92°38′39″W / 43.5486°N 92.6443°W / 43.5486; -92.6443
Source confluence
 - coordinates 41°43′47″N 90°19′11″W / 41.7297°N 90.3196°W / 41.7297; -90.3196
Mouth Mississippi River
 - elevation 574 ft (175 m)
Length 299.5 mi (482 km)
Wapsipinicon River highlighted
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Wapsipinicon River

It rises in Mower County, Minnesota and enters Iowa in northern Mitchell County. It flows generally southeast across rural Chickasaw, Bremer, and Buchanan counties, past Independence and Anamosa. Along its lower 25 miles (40 km) it turns east, forming the boundary between Clinton and Scott counties. It joins the Mississippi from the west approximately 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Clinton.

It defines the western boundary of the Driftless Area. While the Wapsi has a soft, recent catchment, the Driftless, to the east and north, tumbles down to the Mississippi in rugged canyons.

The name of the river in the Ojibwe language is Waabizipinikaan-ziibi ("river abundant in swan-potatoes"), on account of the large quantity of arrowheads or wild artichokes, known as "swan-potatoes" (waabizipiniin, singular waabizipin), once found near its banks.[2] Severe flooding on the river in 1993, as part of the larger floods in region, caused widespread damage to the surrounding cropland.

The Wapsipinicon River runs alongside the Iowa cities and communities of McIntire, Riceville, Deerfield, Frederika, Tripoli, Littleton, Otterville, Independence, Quasqueton, Troy Mills, Paris, Central City, Waubeek, Stone City, Anamosa, Olin, Oxford Junction, Oxford Mills, Massillon, Toronto, Wheatland, McCausland, Folletts, and Shaffton before emptying into the Mississippi River. Cedar Rock State Park is located on the Wapsipinicon near Quasqueton. Wapsipinicon State Park is located along its southern bank at Anamosa. Many regional parks also border the river.

The novel The Cobweb by Stephen Bury (a pseudonym for author Neal Stephenson writing with his uncle George Jewsbury under the pseudonym Frederick George) is set in the fictional Iowa twin towns of Wapsipinicon-Nishnabotna.

The Wapsipinicon is known for excellent fishing for catfish, although it also contains abundant northern pike, carp, sunfish, and walleye (in some areas).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 13, 2011
  2. ^ Freelang Ojibwe Dictionary

External linksEdit