Walking the Mississippi

Have you ever walked the Mississippi River? Not a simple stroll along its banks but following its course from the headwaters all the way to the delta where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. 
Mudd Island at Memphis, Tennessee offers the opportunity to take such a walk. Set into the pavement, a three-dimensional scale model traces the great waterway’s geography. On warm summer days you can take off your shoes and splash in the mud-free water that flows through this replica of the river that surrounds Mudd Island.  Markers along the way note historical events while towns are shown with simple street plats.  
          My Mississippi River walk traced a bit of family history. The picture below is taken at the place where the Cumberland River flows into the Mississippi at Smithland, Kentucky. My great-great grandfather’s house sat on the bluff overlooking the U-shaped bend in the Cumberland (upper left). Upriver to the right, my great-great-great grandparents farmed the land on the north side of the Cumberland and operated a river-boat stop called Moxley’s Landing.
          I have been to those places and stood beside the river watching it flow around the next bend and out of sight. But on Mudd Island, standing barefoot in the water, I found a broader view of the lay of the land and the course of the waterways, grasped the great distances travelled in small boats. I gained a new perspective on those pioneer settlers and the waterways that were the highways on their frontier.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting. That sounds like a trip worth taking. My people were Cherokee/Scottish who settled in Eastern Kentucky in the late 1700’s not far from the headwaters of the Cumberland River. It conjures a nice image to think of what your people and mine were doing at the same time back then. And then here we are now, thinking about them.

    • Yes, wouldn’t they be amazed to know their descendants are talking about them after all these years, and through this amazing technology! I hope you make the trip one of these days.


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