The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 619.6 Wood Cottage

Paddler’s Note: One of the biggest and most powerful eddies on the Lower Mississippi RBD.  Be especially wary of any tows in this area.  Narrow river leaves little room for towboats to navigate.  High volume turbulence at base of bend with powerful boils and recurring whirlpools.  Flanking Maneuver often executed during low water.  [CLICK HERE: The Flanking Maneuver].  Tight bend.  Downstream tows might appear quickly from out of view from around the bend requiring fast action.


Wood Cottage takes its name from one of the many historic gathering and loading sites for firewood to feed the insatiable appetites of the Mississippi River steamboats or yore.  After the surrounding forests had been depleted of easy pickings the woodsmen and women gathered driftwood delivered by the river.  Eventually coal replaced wood as the fuel of choice, and then later diesel, and these rustic wood lots became known only by their names on the map.  According Marion Bragg, Most steamboats on the Lower Mississippi did not convert to coal until during or after the Civil War.  Small steamers used 12 to 24 cords of wood every 24 hours, and larger ones could consume 50 to 70 cords in the same length of time.  For comparison, an uninsulated farm house in Vermont might burn 12 -24 cords in one entire winter!


As noted above, the main channel of the river dives deep here into the Arkansas bank as it is swung outwards by the centrifugal force of the elbow bend around Island 67 and into the outside of the bend, right bank descending.  (similar to Fair landing Bend around Burke’s) this is another tight right-angle bend that starts out Southwesterly and ends up charging to the East.  Right-angle elbow bends seem to cause more turbulence and agitation than any others.  Given no allowance to spread over the banks the currents dig deeper and deeper into alluvial sediment at Wood Cottage, eventually carving holes several hundred feet deep (at medium water).   A giant eddy is formed here past a headland covered with rip-rap and revetment just below the Wood Cottage Light 619.6, and the whole Mississippi River gets pushed out towards the island and the resulting giant tongue of water narrows down to several hundred yards with the big eddy on the one side and a dead water that forms alongside the shallows of the island on the other.  This is one of those places you can actually see the entire force of the river concentrated in one place (as opposed to being spread out over the face of a river-scape a half mile or a mile wide, no one channel but many small channels all commingling and flowing alongside each other).  This is not a good place to meet a big upstream towboat, the waves are always the biggest and most turbulent in fast tongues of water like these, and even more so along a powerful eddyline.  Even at low water the water is fast here and always turbulent against the eddy line.  The eddy sprawls & swirls over several acres of river, as stated its the biggest eddy in the area.


Never underestimate the power of these eddies.  A nine time canoe race champion  reported feeling her paddle being worked by unseen forces one time while paddling through this river bend with her husband, with several instances of near capsize — which so unnerved her she has not since returned to the big river.  This is too bad.   But at the same time reinforces the weird water motions displayed by the river that can prove bewildering to even the most experienced paddler.


As the central tongue of water rushes downstream past the big eddy everything opens up for several hundred yards, and then closes up again as you approach another head land at Keith’s Landing mile 617.7 and another big eddy is formed below.  A whale-sized boil periodically issues to the surface at the top of this eddy with strong roaring gulping & slurping sounds that add to the feeling of the raw & uncontrolled power of the river in this bend.  Boils in general are safer than powerful eddies or whirlpools, because they are columns of water being pushed upwards.  However, a monstrously powerful boil like this one could cause a capsize to an unsuspecting paddler, and sometimes the sideways sliding of the water erupting from the boil can cause whirlpools to from around its outside perimeter.  This boiling place reminds me of a tidal surge behind Vancouver Island called Skokemougan the roaring through the woods for the awful sounds that can be heard by paddlers from long distance (when no tows are in the area).


If you see tows and want to avoid big waves, simply pull off into one of the eddies and await the passage of the tow.  The biggest wave trains will remain in the fast water on the other side of the big eddies & boils.   At high water you can avoid this place completely by staying LBD below Jug Harris and entering the back channel behind Island 67.  But here another alarming reality sometimes is presented: as the water nears flood stage 44HG watch out for upstream tows that sometime elect to also cut the corner using the back channel.  You won’t ever forget the first time you see a tow outside of its normal defined boundaries between the buoys.  Its like the alarm you might feel if one day you suddenly noticed a freight train rolling along down the highway you were driving down.  It will cause an adrenaline rush and send chills up your back. 


This speaks to the ephemeral nature of the river where even the biggest and seemingly most hard-rock truths (such as towboats inside the navigation channel) are subject to adoption & change. [CLICK HERE: Islands the tows sometimes travel behind]

Leave A Comment

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