Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Mounds Landing Crevasse/Cypress Bend/Caulk Neck Cutoff

Marker ID:  40
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


Mounds Landing Crevasse/Cypress Bend/Caulk Neck Cutoff
Panel #40 Mississippi Riverwalk

A. Mounds Landing Crevasse
Mile 560.5 AHP

The Mounds Landing Crevasse was the most disastrous levee break during the great flood of 1927. The levee was old, originally built in 1867, and a ferryboat’s frequent landings had weakened the embankment. At 6:30 a.m. on April 21, the levee blew out. By noon that day, the crevasse was a one-half mile wide and still growing. The wall of water that came through the gap moved quickly south to Greenville, MS. As evacuation began, six foot deep currents ran through the streets. Thousands of refugees gathered on the Greenville levee, and their combined weight caused the levee to begin to sinking. Most of the homeless were taken to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they lived in tents until the flood waters subsided. Nearly 2,000 square miles were flooded by the Mounds Landing Crevasse, and when the water retreated it left behind a 65-acre lake.

B) Cypress Bend
Mile 570.0 AHP

By the late 1700’s, settlers in Louisiana had cut down most of the cypress groves along the river, and loggers moved north to the massive stands that lined the banks along Cypress Bend. Trees were cut and gathered into huge log rafts to be floated downstream to New Orleans. After the Civil War, steam-powered boats moved up along the Lower Mississippi, and by 1916 the Cypress Trees had been logged out. The disappearance of the cypress led to major ecological changes, and many of the waterfowl once abundant in the region was gone.

C) Caulk Neck Cutoff
Mile 575.0 APH

Caving banks were a longtime problem along the eastward loop of the river called Bolivar Bend, and it was bypassed by the artificial Caulk Neck Cutoff in 1938. The cutoff also removed the flood-ridden town of Bolivar, MS, from the river. During the U. S. Civil War the Bolivar area was a hotbed of Confederate guerrilla activity, and in 1863 Union forces cut the levee to flood the rebels out. The levee remained open for years after the war, periodically submerging the little town and the farmland nearby.

Photo Credit: Mounds Landing Crevasse by Steve Nicklas, NOS, NGS - Historic NWS Collection

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.