There is a belief that rivers on Planet Earth generally flow south, like the Mississippi seen here at Minneapolis, east, like the Amazon, or west. Fewer rivers do flow due north, but the longest river in the world, the Nile, basically rolls in that direction. In the USA there are only 3 rivers flowing north–the Red, the St. Johns, and the Willamette. Flowing past Portland, OR under many bridges, the Willamette is the shortest of the 3 and the river I am most familiar with. Flowing north to Lake Winnipeg, which I have seen in the winter, the Red is 318 miles long, and the St. John’s, the one I am least familiar with, is 310 miles long, completely in Florida, and flowing north to Jacksonville where it veers east and greets the Atlantic.
One of the most dramatic rivers in Canada, the Mackenzie, flows mostly northwest until it doesn’t. More than a thousand miles long, it veers north before emptying into the Arctic Ocean. This must have seriously disappointed explorers who thought they had found a route to the Pacific Ocean via a very north Northwest Passage.
The world champion north flowing rivers are in Siberia. This huge Russian territory of more than 5 million square miles, I learned just today, extends from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It’s home to 33 million people. This sounds like a lot of humanity until you do the math. This density of people is very similar to Australia. Siberia constitutes 77% of Russia.
The 5 Siberian rivers that all flow north to the Arctic Ocean, the Yenisei, Ob, Lena, Indigirka and Olenyik, include some streams I have never heard of. Three of them are in the top 15 longest rivers in the world. The Yenisei is one of them. At 2,167 miles, it’s the longest river in the world flowing due north. The Ob is the world’s 7th longest river at 2,268 miles. The Lena is even longer and considered a Siberian river because it flows on for 2,668 miles (this number varies) from the Baikal Mountains to the Arctic Ocean. The Indigirka is 1,072 miles long, and the Olenyik, which is usually frozen solid 8 months each year, is 1,424 miles in length.
I suppose my sudden interest in rivers is the result of reading River Horse. Since Ruth and I have not seen many of the above, they are now on our bucket list!