Historic Markers Across Tennessee

New Madrid, Missouri/Cates Casting Field/Island No. 10

Marker ID:  61
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


New Madrid, Missouri/Cates Casting Field/Island No. 10
Panel #61 Mississippi Riverwalk

A) New Madrid, Missouri
Mile 888.7 AHP

The New Madrid townsite was laid out in 1788 by Colonel George Morgan, who had brought settlers, hoping to make it the capital of an independent Spanish-allied state. The expected land grant from Spain did not come through, and Morgan returned to his home in New Jersey, abandoning the tiny settlement to its fate. The Spanish maintained Fort Celeste there until it became U.S. territory in 1803. New Madrid was near the center of the greatest earthquakes ever recorded in the U.S. in 1811-1812. The town was forced northward as the river steadily washed away its riverfront. Some townspeople kept their buildings mounted on log rollers to facilitate the frequent retreats, but most of the populations fled. Poorly fortified during the Civil War, New Madrid was abandoned by the Confederacy as Union forces advanced downriver. Modern revetments have stabilized the waterfront and New Madrid is now an active river port.

B) Cates Casting Field
Mile 900.5 AHP

Large concrete blocks used in modern revetment work are produced here at Cates Landing, Tennessee, one of eight such facilities on the river. Revetments are constructions that protect river banks and levees from erosion. The 4 foot by 1 foot concrete slabs manufactured here are assembled into large flexible “mattresses” and installed where they are needed along the banks by special mat-sinking barges. It has been estimated that the river can erode as much as 600 feet of soil a year from an unprotected bank, and theses modern revetments protect much of the shoreline.

C) Island No. 10
Mile 901.0 AHP

Early maps show Island No. 10 lying off Donaldson Point close to the Tennessee shore. After the fall of Columbus, Kentucky, a fort on the island and supporting shore batteries were the northernmost Confederate river defenses. Union gunboats sneaked past these fortifications, and troops waded into swamps behind the island. Hemmed in, the rebels surrendered in March 1862. The river channel later shifted, and the island became part of the right bank. The Winchester Towhead built up below it, and Island No. 10 is now landlocked on the Missouri shore.

Photo Credit: (1) Mat Casting Field Vicksburg District, USACE (2) Mat Sinking Plants, USACE

Mississippi Riverwalk.
Marker Number 61

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.