Historic Markers Across Tennessee

American Cutoff Mile/Greenville, Mississippi/Tarpley Cuto

Marker ID:  38
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


American Cutoff Mile/Greenville, Mississippi/Tarpley Cutoff
Panel #38 Mississippi Riverwalk

A) American Cutoff Mile
Mile 526.5 AHP

In the flood of 1858, the Mississippi cut through the neck of American Bend, and the abandoned river bed was renamed Lake Lee. The first steamboat to try to navigate the American Cutoff was the Pennsylvania, with cub pilot, Sam Clemens aboard. Clemens recalled the Pennsylvania's futile attempt to conquer the gushing cutoff in his book Life on the Mississippi under his river inspired pen name, Mark Twain.

B) Greenville, Mississippi
Mile 540.0 AHP

Was founded in 1828, Greenville lay three miles south of Natchez. It grew to become the business and cultural center for the large cotton plantations which surrounded it. During the Civil War, the town was burned to the ground. Greenville was? The old Blantonia Plantation, the highest point on the Mississippi River between Memphis and Vicksburg. Despite its elevation? To floods. In the great flood of 1927, ... from the Mounds Landing Crevasse, upriver ... for over 70 days. Were new levees soon built ... and Cutoff was constructed removing Bachelors’ Bend ... from the Mississippi channel. Was the bend renamed ... and it was made into a large slack-water harbor. While still a? And the natural center, Greenville has become a major industrial? And its port handles the largest tonnage in the state. The? Is headquarters for a number of barge towing and repair installations.

C) Tarpley Cutoff
Mile 541.5 AHP

The third of the Greenville Bends, Spanish Moss Bend, was bypassed by Tarpley Cutoff in 1935. Travelers in the early 1800’s reported that this bend was the farthest north that Spanish moss appeared on the river. Tall ciphers trees were festooned with the plants which early settlers harvested, dried, and used for matters stuffings.

Photo Edit: (1)Greenville flood of 1927, NOAA (2) Greenville Harbor, 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.