The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
Miles 537 – 437 Greenville to Vicksburg
When you refill your water bottles in Greenville you will notice the tea-colored waters coming out of any city taps. Not cause for alarm, you are about to imbibe in the waters that gave birth to luminaries Shelby Foote and T-Model Ford. Ask locals and you might be told “it’s in the water,” meaning the root cause of its literary and musical heritage. Storied Greenville is the home of writers, blues musicians, painters, as well as tow companies, tow pilots, boat stores, river stores, and river rats galore. It’s the most river-oriented city in the Mississippi Delta due to its history and strategic location. In the boom/bust cycle of river towns the Mississippi River left Greenville high and dry when it jumped channel across the Tarpley Bend in 1933. This after suffering the ground zero trauma of the infamous Mound’s Crevasse during the 1927 Flood. Poor Greenville tottered along through the glory days of king cotton and the high plantation era separated from the river. Its Pulitzer Prize winning paper the Delta Democrat took the high road along the many bumps through integration and the Civil Rights era. In 1963 its status as a river town was rejuvenated with the dredging of the old channel of the river. This created the Greenville Harbor and Lake Ferguson out of the sludgy shallow remains of the old Bachelor’s Bend. Modern tow companies and supporting services followed the opening of the harbor. But if you paddle the other way, up the lake away from the river, you can make a short daytrip around north end of the lake lined by houses on one side and cypresses on the other. At high water there is no end to the exploring you can do, but at low water it’s limited to a quick turnaround lined by muddy banks.
Today Greenville makes the obvious start place or end place for any river trips. It is the best resupply place for any long-distance paddlers in between Helena and Vicksburg. Pull out at Warfield Point where you can find hot showers and good camping with river views. Or paddle 5 miles up the slackwater harbor and make your landing downtown. Downtown lacks any grocery store, but is full of the highlights of Delta civilization and its rich river culture such as the Metcalf Public Library, the 1927 Flood Museum, the William Alexander Percy Memorial, and some cafes and bars along Walnut Street where you might catch some live blues. Unfortunately one of the world’s greatest bookstores, the McCormick Book Inn, closed the last page in its long history as the preeminent literary center of the region. Doe’s Eat Place is an often frequented steak house, but you can also find Chinese, Mexican, Lebanese, Italian, and many more selections throughout the city. The Greenville Inn and Suites is the obvious best choice.