Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Lake Providence, Louisiana/Stack Island

Marker ID:  35
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


Lake Providence, Louisiana/Stack Island
Panel #35 Mississippi Riverwalk

A) Lake Providence, Louisiana
Mile 487.3 AHP

To guide a boat past this point without falling prey to murderous pirates of the area was considered an “act of providence” in the early 1800’s. Both the ancient oxbow lake to the west and the town that grew up on the river bank were named for this divine intervention. The town of Lake Providence became the area’s shipping center during the steamboat era The Union army built a canal between the lake and the Mississippi River as part of the futile project to bypass Confederate batteries at Vicksburg. After the Civil War, the river began to cut into Lake Providence’s waterfront. By 1894, most of the original town had been washed away, and only the newer eastern section remained. When Stack Island joined the Louisiana shore Lake Providence became landlocked almost a mile from the river. A new harbor has since been constructed behind the island, and the town is again an active port.

B) Stack Island
Mile 487.54 AHP

Stack Island was notorious in the early 1800’s as the headquarters of a band of pirates and outlaws who operated just upriver at Bunch’s Bend. Finally losing patience, flatboatmen who had been robbed by the outlaws hunted them down and hanged them on the spot. Stack Island disappears during the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812, but a sandbar soon appears where the island had been. It grew into a towhead, and the towhead grew into a new Stark Island by 1820. The Natchez VII, said to be the finest in the long line of boats of that name, ran aground and sank a the Island in 1889. In 1962, a Corps of Engineers dredge boat scooped up pieces of the Natchez VII, which was lying nine feet deep in the main channel. The channel was dredged to the east to avoid the old wreck. The old Stack Island has joined the Louisiana Shore, and a relatively new sandbar in the channel goes by its name.

Photo Credit: Lake Providence Harbor, Louisiana - courtesy of USACE

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.