Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Islands No. 2, 3, and 4/Fort Jefferson, Kentucky/Bird’s Point, Missouri

Marker ID:  64
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


Islands No. 2, 3, and 4/Fort Jefferson, Kentucky/Bird’s Point, Missouri
Panel #64 Mississippi Riverwalk

A) Islands No. 2, 3, and 4

Mile 940.5 AHP

Zadok Cramer first numbered the islands of the Lower Mississippi River in his 1801 book, The Navigator. The number system allowed boatmen to exchange river information without becoming confused with a variety of island names. The Navigator showed that Islands No. 2, 3, and 4 lay close to the east bank, and over the next 100 years they grew even closer to the Kentucky shore. After the great flood of 1927, the river abandoned its old channel past the islands, called Lucas Bend. The new channel cut east, separating the islands from Kentucky. Lucas Bend soon silted up and became a lake, and the islands became attached to Missouri. By court ruling, however, land that the river cuts off remains the property of the state from which it was cut. Islands No. 2, 3, and 4 are still Kentucky soil.

B) Fort Jefferson, Kentucky

Mile 950 AHP

Fort Jefferson was an American ... built in 1780. It was established to recruit Native American ... to fight the Chickasaws, who were aiding the British in the Revolutionary War. The Chickasaw soon attacked Fort Jefferson and besieged it for almost a year, until reinforcements arrived to evacuate it in 1781. The U.S. bought the Chickasaw lands in 1818.

C) Bird’s Point, Missouri

Mile 953.5 AHP

Abram Bird established a warehouse here in 1798 to sell provisions to flatboatmen making the long trip down the Mississippi River. The Bird family still owned the land during the U.S. Civil War, when General Grant used it for a Union army campground. The point is now the northern end of the Bird's Point - New Madrid Floodway, constructed in 1933 to protect Cairo, IL from flooding. When the river reaches a dangerous level, "fuse plug," sections of the levee at Bird's Point are blown out. Water pours into the floodway between the riverfront levee and a setback levee about five miles inland. The water flows back into the Mississippi River just above New Madrid, MO, 65 miles downstream. The floodway was used in during the 1937 flood, and the Cairo area remained safe and dry.

Mississippi Riverwalk.
Marker Number 64

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.