The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD Near Mile 3 of the Old Channel of the White

Wreck of the Victor?

After the flood of 2011 I discovered the remains of a steamboat-shaped vessel lodged in the muddy bank at a steep angle at the southernmost point of the first big bend RBD.  The rough rectangular shape of the large wooden marine frame, and the hand forged square nails led me to believe it was either a steamboat or a steamboat era barge.  This was exciting because rarely is any evidence seen of the legendary steamboat days along the powerful currents of the Lower Miss, which seem to destroy everything in its path or cover them in mud.   Later after doing some research I located Dr. Skip Abernathy of the Arkansas Archeological Survey who told me that The wreck is probably the wood-hull stern wheel steamboat Victor which sank in 1907 while trying to free some grounded timber barges.  Back in 2010 and early 2011, there was part of another wreck visible, a flatboat, only the second seen in the Mississippi Valley although there were thousands in the 1800s.  The steamboat The Victor was lost in Sibley Chute [Old White] in 1907 while fleeting barges, but the nails and rivets attaching the keelson timbers to the ribs are wrought iron and mild steel would be expected in construction occurring after about 1880.   As of yet there is little confidence in a boat name for this one. The Victor was 26 feet wide and this one measures 16 feet from keelson to the port side (still mostly buried) making the boat about 32 feet wide. Next rise and fall of the river might expose more evidence.  Paddlers keep looking and record your findings with camera and GPS.  Send your evidence to the above Archeological Survey.


Old Channel of the White


The beauty of this channel is in its wildness and the lack of any channel improvements as the Army Corps calls it.  You won’t have to paddle around long piles rocks.   You won’t have to round miles and miles of revetment to get around the next bend of the river.  You won’t see any buoys or signage.  You won’t have to paddle past ugly places where the wild muddy banks have been asphalt paved like the streets of downtown Los Angeles.  Towboats don’t ever use the Old White.  Here you get a taste of the Mighty Mississippi as it looked and felt in its ancient days — before modern man made big changes with big earth-moving machines and giant water power vessels.


As you slide along through the deep woods between Big Island and Montgomery Island  you will won’t see any signs of mankind save one single bankside shack and a single strand powerline crossing, both near Mile 2.  Otherwise there’s nothing but ten miles of collapsing muddy banks, long yellow sandbars topped with the the ubiquitous willows and cottonwoods, while thick forests of tall oaks, sycamores, sweetgums, grow higher up in the bottomlands.  The broad channel varies from 500-100- yards wide and you can choose any line of travel without the fear of getting plowed over by an oncoming tow.  This is a huge relief in of itself, and will afford the long-distance paddler some mindless meandering & wandering in the way experienced on most other rivers.  Watching the compass you will witness a bewildering blaze of directions, south, then west, then east, then north, then south, then west and finally east back into the Mississippi.  As you head into the third big bend you will make a one mile paddle due north.  This confounds some people who have always heard that the Mississippi runs out of the North Woods south to the Gulf of Mexico!   This bend is reminiscent of the famous loop of river at Bessie’s Bend (New Madrid, Missouri) where the water has to circulate nearly 360 degrees in a twenty-mile run and ends up one lateral mile from where it started.  (In Bessie’s Bend there is a seven mile northerly run before the big river gets turned around and pushed southward again.)


As you come around the third bend you will enjoy five miles of mostly southward passage with many striking views downstream, the scene composed of dramatic long distance sights down the wide Old White, banked by the undulating tall forests of Montgomery Island, with distinct highlights created by several small back channel islands.  The first island lays right bank descending at mile 6.  If the water is above 20HG you can cut in hard right and follow this narrow channel (30 feet wide) as it meanders behind the island, and then opens up and slows down as it rejoins the Old White approximately one mile below.  There is a rustic hunter’s ferry normally tied up LBD near mile 8 that services Montgomery Island Hunting Camp.  Not far below at mile 9 is one last small back channel island.  On the other side of this little island flows the main channel of the Mississippi River.  Above 10HG you can paddle to either side of this last island to rejoin the Mississippi, but below 10HG you have to take the left channel because a large sandbar takes shape in the right channel.


As you leave Old White River there is an busy logger’s camp found RBD 590 on Big Island that has been active for at least the last twenty years that I have been paddling the area (since 1991).  As you paddle by look for river barges piled high with 16-foot lengths of cypress, cottonwood, oak, sweetgum, and other hardwoods of the bottomland hardwood forest.


If you have planned a campsite or picnic stop at the Terrene sandbar (Great River Road State Park) cut sharp across the bottom of Montgomery Island, checking for towboat traffic (VHF Channel 13) and then begin your long ferry crossing.  [CLICK HERE: Ferry Crossing].  During high water little remains of the Terrene sandbar and you will have to paddle hard to reach the State Park. 


On the other hand if you have no plans to stop but intend to continue on downstream to the Rosedale Harbor, or mouth of the Arkansas, you might as well stay in the right channel behind the last island of the Old White and enter the Mississippi below, and follow the strong currents of RBD downstream around Klondike Bend (opposite Great River Road State Park).

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
St. Francis to Helena
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
671 – 673 LBD St. Francis Bar
670 LBD St. Francis Dikes
669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes
668 RBD (A View Of) Crowley’s Ridge
668 – 663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)
665.5 LBD Trotter’s Pass
663 RBD Helena Harbor
Helena Boat Ramps  
663 RBD Helena-West Helena
Quapaw Canoe Company – Helena Outpost  
661 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 Yazoo Pass
Helena to Island 63
663 LBD Leaving Helena Harbor
Fleeted Barges  
Small Towns in Harbors  
Buoys and Other Stationary Objects  
Highlights of Civilizations  
Wild Miles  
Pollution Within the Helena Industrial Reach  
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 LBD Yazoo Pass
How to Get Into the Old Entrance of the Yazoo Pass  
LBD Alternate Route to Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass
Yazoo Pass Mileage  
Rivers & Robert Johnson  
656 LBD East Motezuma Bar
657 – 654 RBD Montezuma Towhead
654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing
Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale  
652 LBD Friars Point
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
Beavers on the Lower Mississippi River  
652.2 RBD Kangaroo Point
648 LBD Horseshoe
646 – 649 RBD Dewberry Island 61
646 – 642 Old Town Bend
641 – 635 LBD Island 62
640.5 – 637 LBD Island 63
640.5 LBD Entrance to Top End of Island 63 Chute
637.5 LBD Entrance Into Bottom End of Island 63 Chute
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Island 63 to Hurricane
Muddy Waters Wilderness  
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Old Levee at Quapaw  
Levee Break Below Quapaw Landing  
Great Flood of 2011  
637.5 LBD Island 63 Chute
636 LBD Burke’s Point
The Flanking Maneuver  
634 RBD Modoc Old River Lake
632 LBD Robson Towhead
632.5 RBD Fair Landing
Jackson Cutoff  
Sunflower Cutoff  
625.6 RBD Mouth of the Mellwood Lake
624 – 627 LBD Sunflower Dikes
Diving Duck  
624.5 LBD Mouth of De Soto Lake
621 – 624 LBD Jug Harris Towhead
620.8 RBD Mouth of the Chute of Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 67
619.6 BD Wood Cottage
620 – 617 RBD Old Levee at Knowlton
616 LBD Knowlton Crevasse
619 – 609 RBD Island 69
615.5 RBD Island 69 Old Back Channel
616 – 614 LBD Cession’s Towhead
610 LBD Hurricane Pint (Dennis Landing)
Hurricane to Rosedale
605 – 610 LBD Island 70
The River Mirage Effect  
604 – 601 LBD Henrico Sandbar
603 – 597 Scrubgrass Bend
601.5 – 598 LBD Smith Point Sandbar
600.5 LBD Entrance
598 LBD Exit
Secret Channel Behind Smith Point Sandbar  
599 RBD Mouth of the White River
The White River  
Montgomery Point Lock & Dam  
At the Mouth of the White River  
How Does a Lock Work?  
Arkansas River: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Tulsa  
White River National Wildlife Refuge  
597.5 – 580 RBD Big Island
596 – 594 Victoria Bend
592.1 LBD Terrence Landing
597.5 RBD Entrance
591 LBD Exit
RBD Near Mile 3 of the Old Channel of the White  
Wreck of the Victor?  
Old Channel of the White  
Arkansas City Gage (AG)  
591 – 587 LBD Great River Road State Park
587 – 584.5 LBD Malone Field (Barge Fleeting Area)
594.5 LBD Mouth of the Rosedale Harbor
Rosedale Harbor  
Rosedale, Mississippi  
Rosedale to Arkansas City
Arkansas City Gage  
585 – 580 RBD Arkansas Bar
580 RBD Arkansas River
Paddling Past the Mouth of the Arkansas  
A Detour Up & Down the Arkansas  
Island Hopping  
The Floating Sensation  
Circumnavigation of the Big Island (52 Miles; 5-7 Days)  
Below the Arkansas Confluence  
581 – 576 LBD Prentiss Sandbar
578.4 RBD Napoleon Light
574.5 LBD Mouth of Lake Whittington
575.8 RBD Caulk Eddy
575 – 572.5 RBD Caulk Neck Bar
576 – 572 Caulk Neck Cutoff
572 – 567 Cypress Bend
Cypress Bend – Pallid Sturgeon  
571 – 567 Catfish Point Bar
568 RBD Chicot Landing
Reading Google Maps  
Approaching Choctaw Island  
Choctaw Island Geomorphology  
564 – 558 Chocktaw Bar Island
Note on Low-Water Camping  
Arkansas City Boat Ramp  
561.7 LBD Easton Landing – Mounds Boat Ramp
560.5 LBD Mounds Landing
Addendum: Take-Out in Greenville or Lake Village  
Best Campsites Along the Lower Mississippi Water Trail  
End of Trail  
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