Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Natchez Island/Vidalia, Louisiana /Giles Cutoff

Marker ID:  25
Location: Mud Island River Park, 125 N Front Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 8.968    W 090° 3.507
  35.14946666    -90.05845
Waymark: None


Natchez Island/Vidalia, Louisiana /Giles Cutoff
Panel #25 Mississippi Riverwalk

A. Natchez Island
Mile 357.5 AHP

Now joined to the Louisiana shore, this island was the site of one of the last steamboat accidents on the Mississippi River. The Tennessee Belle was a 38-year veteran of the river trade when she caught fire and sank off the Natchez Island in 1942.

B. Vidalia, Louisiana
Mile 363.3 AHP

In 1789, Spain built an outpost here to counter the British influence across the river at Natchez, MS. Don Jose Vidal, a former Spanish Official, established a village called Concord Port on this site I 1801. It was later named Vidalia in honor of its founder. After the Giles Cutoff opened in the 1930’s, the river moved west and began to undermine the Vidalia levee. A new levee was built six blocks behind the old one, and many buildings were moved on rollers from the waterfront to safety behind the new embankment. The town’s oldest section, outside the new levee, was eventually washed away by the river.
C. Giles Cutoff
Mile 367.0 AHP

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Mississippi River followed a westward curve here called Marengo Bend. Over the next thirty years, the river slowly cut through the strip of land at the base of the bend forming a natural cutoff. In 1933, the Army Corps of Engineers dug an artificial cutoff east of the natural one to bring the river into better alignment. An even older bend in the river lies several miles northwest of Giles Cutoff. Now known as Lake Concordia, some believe this to be the burial place of Hernando DeSoto. The river channel flowed through Lake Concordia in 1542, when the Spanish Explored died of fever. The Spanish troops feared that the Native Americans would attack if they learned that DeSoto was dead, so they secretly slipped his weighted corps into the river.

A photo of this marker can be found on HMDB.org


AHP - Above Head of Passes, this is the distance from the mouth of a river when measured along the course (navigable channel) starting at zero.