The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

From Marion Bragg’s Historic Names and Places on the Lower Mississippi:


“When Island No. 30 was given its identifying number in 1801, it lay close to the left shore. Later it crossed the river-or the river crossed it-and it now lies in front of Osceola, near the Arkansas side of the Mississippi. It appears to be attached to Arkansas, but is owned by Tennessee.


“In 1913 the famous, record-breaking steam-powered towboat Sprague had a spectacular accident at Island No. 30. The big sternwheel boat, pushing a record tow of coal barges, was coming downstream when she was caught in side currents and whirled into the chute behind the island. Colliding with some stone dikes, the Big Mama, as she was affectionately called by river men, dropped her countless tons of coal into the chute, and lost all her barges.


“Some years later, the Mississippi tore out the old stone dikes at Island No. 30, removed the mountains of coal deposited there by the Sprague, and settled itself in a new bed where the chute had been.”


Today Sprague’s Coal has been littering the bottom of the river downstream of Osceola and Island 30, and is pushed up on top of sandbars to be seen especially at low water, notably on the Hatchie Bar, where boulder sized chunks of coal still become visible, and further downstream at the top end of Dean Island.


WARNING: Low Rock Dam at bottom end of Island 30, rocky rapids at 10-15, whitewater rapids at 15-20, and big volume waves and turbulence at 25, flattens out at 30.  When in doubt, stop and Scout!


Neark (Jacksonville) Landing

LBD Back Channel Island 30 786.5

Narrow concrete ramp dropping into back channel one mile north of Osceola.  From Is. 30 Back Channel keep vigilant watch RBD for a small opening and  landing beyond, known locally as Jacksonville Landing, but signed as “Neark Landing” by Arkansas Game & Fish (cute acronym: North-Eastern-Arkansas = NEARK).  This is the only easy access to town.  A short walk over the levee will place you on Lakeview Drive, which is about a mile north of downtown.  Safeguard your canoe or kayak by hiding it carefully along the bank, or leave someone in your party stationed as security.  


rbd 785 Osceola Arkansas

If you stay main channel watch for anchored tows as you come around Plum Point.  Two grain elevators are located within the Osceola Harbor, and a third one found two miles downstream next to a huge coal-fired power plant.


As described above, the only access to Osceola is from behind Island 30.  If the water is high enough (above 25 CuG), you can enter from above Island 30, but if it is lower you will need to turn into the Osceola Harbor at the base of the Island RBD 785 and paddle back upstream a little over a mile to locate Jacksonville Landing.  Another alternative is to continue on downstream two miles to the Sans Souci Landing near the Bunge Grain elevator and make your land connection there (see below for description).  It’s a long walk back to town, but the landing is much easier to access than Neark Landing.  As with all Mississippi River landings, safeguard your canoe or kayak by hiding it carefully along the bank, or leave someone in your party stationed as security.  

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Caruthersville to Osceola
850 – 737 LBD Options for Paddlers in the Caruthersville Stretch
Above Caruthersville  
Below Caruthersville  
850 RBD Caruthersville Harbor Boat Ramp (1/2 Mile Up Harbor)
849 RBD Mouth of the Carutherville Harbor
849 RBD Trinity Barge Fabrication Plant
847 RBD Blaker Towhead
846.5 Caruthersville
846 RBD Isle of Capri/Lady Luck Casino and Casino Inn Suites
845 – 840 LBD Caruthersville – Linwood Bend
850 RBD – 840 LBD Day Trip: Caruthersville to Booth’s Point
840 LBD Linwood Bend Boat Ramp
839 Caruthersville Bridge
Bridges and Mud: How Deep is the Mississippi Mud  
Several Routes Around Islands 18, 20 and 21  
838 – 835 LBD Island 18 Towhead
829 – 832 RBD Island 20 Dikes and Towhead
823 – 829 LBD Island 21
Routes for the Paddler Around Tamm/Barfield Bends  
820 – 815 RBD Wright’s Point – Tamm Bend
819.3 LBD Mouth of the Obion River
Moss Island WMA  
817.7 LBD Tamm’s Landing and Ed Jones Boat Ramp
817.7 – 801.8 LBD Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
No Levee?  
814 LBD Nebraska Landing
815 – 805 LBD Barfield Bend
809.3 RBD Barfield Boat Ramp
806 RBD Tomato Arkansas
805 – 801 RBD Island 25
Paddler’s Options in the Island 30 – Osceola Area  
800 – 796.5 RBD Island 26 and Forked Deer Island 27
803 – 787 RBD Ashport-Keyes Gold Dust
796 – 791 RBD Ashport Gold Dust Dikes
797 LBD Shoaf Landing
797 LBD Lower Forked Deer River
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
793 – 785 RBD Island 30
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
Neark (Jacksonville) Landing  
786.5 LBD Back Channel Island 30
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
Osceola to Shelby Forest
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
782 LBD Driver Island
779.8 LBD Old Mouth of the Forked Deer
779 – 778 LBD First Chickasaw Bluff
Alternate Paddler’s Route Around Hatchie River & 2nd Chickasaw Bluff  
778 – 773 RBD Sunrise Towhead – Island 34
777 – 773.5 LBD Hatchie Towhead
773.5 LBD Mouth of the Hatchie River
773.5 LBD Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refugee
771 – 772 LBD Angelo Towhead
771 LBD Randolph Landing
771 – 769 LBD The Second Chickasaw Bluff (Richardson Bluff)
768.9 LBD Richardson’s Landing
768 LBD Randolph’s Landing/Duvall’s Boat Ramp
766 – 763 LBD Below Richardson’s Landing Dikes and Bar
Dyess Arkansas, Birthplace of Johnny Cash’s Five Feet High and Rising  
Five Feet High and Rising  
767.6 – 761.5 RBD Island 35
767 RBD Island 35 Boat Ramp
Back Channels of Island 35  
767.6 RBD Entrance
761.5 RBD Exit Behind Dean Isand
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
Reading Google Maps  
761.5 – 757 RBD Dean Isand
761.5 – 757 RBD Back Channel of Dean Isand
Third Chickasaw Bluff  
758 – 754 LBD Denseford Bar and Dikes/Hen and Chicks
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Shelby Forest to Memphis
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Hen & Chicks Round Trip  
754 – 745 LBD Meeman Shelby Forest State Park
754 – 747.5 RBD Back Channel of Brandywine Island
Buoys and Dikes  
Paddling Into Memphis: Three Distinct Routes  
749 – 742 LBD Hickman Bar
Picknicking and Camping on Hickman  
746 LBD Upper Hickman
745 LBD Middle Hickman
744 LBD Lower Hickman
743 LBD Below Lower Hickman
740.6 LBD Loosahatchie River
743.5 – 740 LBD Redman Point Bar
Memphis Upper Waswater Treatment Plant  
M.C. Stiles Waterwater Treatment Facility  
739 LBD Conoco Lucy-Woodstock Memphis Chemical Terminal Dock
740.6 LBD Wolf River
738.4 LBD Mud Island Upper Boat Ramp
740 – 737.5 Loosahatchie Bar
737.5 Ferry Crossing to Memphis From the Bottom of Loosahatchie Bar
737 Memphis “M” Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge)
736 LBD 4th Chickasaw Bluff: Memphis
736 LBD Memphis Mud Island Harbor
Mud Island Riverpark & Museum  
Memphis Yatch Club Marina & Boat Ramp  
Coast Guard Boat Ramp  
Memphis Conveniences Useful to Paddlers  
Several Challenging Round-trips From Memphis  
The Lossahatchie Redman Figure-Eight  
The Loosahatchie Roundtrip  
Hickman Bar Roundtrip  
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO