Yazoo (yăzˈō) [key], river, 188 mi (303 km) long, formed in W central Miss. by the confluence of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha rivers. Prevented by natural levees from joining the Mississippi River sooner, the Yazoo parallels the Mississippi for c.175 mi (280 km), meandering southwest along the eastern edge of the Mississippi's floodplain before entering it near Vicksburg. The Yazoo is navigable for shallow-draft vessels. Although subject to flooding, the fertile plain between the two rivers, called the Delta, is a major cotton growing region. In the spring of 1973 about 2,800 sq mi (7,250 sq km) of the Yazoo basin were inundated by water backed up because of floods on the Mississippi River; parts of the Delta region were saturated for as long as four months, causing a delay in spring plantings. The Yazoo River is exemplary of a stream of deferred junction, and the term yazoo is generally applied to any stream that has a belated confluence with the main river.
See F. E. Smith, The Yazoo River (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.