The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

734.7 The Harahan Bridge

This is the only railroad bridge between St. Louis and the Gulf of Mexico that is also used simultaneously by pedestrians and vehicles.   It was originally named The Rock Island Bridge and was renamed after James T. Harahan, the president of Rock Island Railroad who was killed four years before the bridge was completed.  Ironically he was killed when his car was hit by an oncoming train.   On postcards this bridge is sometimes called The Missouri Pacific Iron Mountain Bridge.  Completed in 1916 the bridge was structurally advanced for its time, although 23 workers of the steel company lost their lives during its construction.  In 1917 cars and trucks were allowed to use the bridge, single file, driving on a narrow, one way wooden roadway that was suspended on the OUTSIDE of the bridge.  There was only a short railing on the outside edge of the road.


It wasn’t until 1949 when the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge opened, that drivers had a much safer means of crossing to Arkansas.  Freight trains continue to use the Harahan Bridge.  The main bridge structure is 2,548 feet long.  The bridge spans match the lengths of the bridge spans of the older Frisco Bridge.  This was required by the US Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the piers would line up so as not to encroach on the navigation channels. 


734.7 The Ghost Bunker

On the eastern end of Harahan Bridge is a bunker made of granite whose walls have seen some horrible scenes.  This area is said to be haunted.  The bunker is now known as The Ghost Bunker or The Strange Room.  It sits on the exact spot that Fort Pickering, a Civil War strategic post once stood.  It was advertised in the 1800’s as a clean jail capable of containing 300 likely young slaves by Nathan B. Forrest, slave trader and Confederate general.  The victims of the Yellow Fever epidemics of the 1800s were brought to this area by the hundreds, after their death.  Over 70 people have used the bridge at this point as a means of suicide.


The infamous room was sealed in the 1970’s when a huge supply of dynamite and blasting caps were found by railway workers.  However it’s still believed that ghost enthusiasts use the old bunker as a ghostly ground-zero to conduct their séances and ghost hunts.  They have walked away with audio evidence of screams and unexplained photographic oddities.


734.7 The Old Bridge (Memphis & Arkansas Bridge)

This bridge cost $10.5 million and as part of Interstate 55, it connects Arkansas with Tennessee.   Unfortunately it was not built to withstand an earthquake and can’t be retrofitted with seismic protection.  When this bridge opened it meant there were now three bridges at this location – approximately 150 feet apart.  The upstream structure is the Harahan Bridge.  The Frisco Bridge is the middle structure, and the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge is next in line.  As of 2007 the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge continues to serve as a vital automobile conduit for cross-river traffic.  It carries 50,000 cars each day – only about 5,000 fewer than the newer Hernando de Soto Bridge to the north.


This bridge has 5 names: Memphis and Arkansas Bridge, Memphis-Arkansas Bridge, Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge, Memphis & Arkansas Memorial Bridge, and now a new name,  The Old Bridge.  The Memphis-Arkansas Bridge was built in 1949 as part of the US-40.  It replaced the narrow traffic lanes that were attached to each side of the Harahan Bridge.  It was built before the introduction of the Interstate Highway System, so the span was not built to Interstate standards.  It lacked the concrete barrier between the different directions of traffic and they were added later.  It was also built with a sidewalk on either side of the roadway.  They are also now separated from the traffic lanes by concrete barriers.  However sidewalk travel has been prohibited on the bridge. 


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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
Memphis to Tunica
736 LBD Memphis, Tennessee, Mud Island Harbor
Buoys and Docks  
Floating Underneath a Bridge  
734.7 Lower Bridges/Engineer’s Bar
734.7 The Frisco Bridge
734.7 The Harahan Bridge
734.7 The Ghost Bunker
734.7 The Old Bridge (Memphis & Arkansas Bridge)
733 President’s Island
Fleeted Barges  
732 LBD Hole in the Wall ##2
727.3 TVA Transmission Lines
727.3 RBD The Wreck of the Raft
Tennessee Valley Authority  
725.5 LBD Entrance to McKellar Lake
7 Miles Up harbor Riverside Park Marina On McKellar Lake  
724 T.E. Maxon Wastewater Treatement Facility
Paddler’s Routes Below Memphis  
727 – 712 Dismal Point/Ensley Bar/Cow Island Bend Area
726 – 717 Armstrong/Dismal Point/Ensley Bar
720 Josie Harry Bar
718 – 713 Cow Island Bend
Goodbye Tennessee, Hullo Mississippi  
The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and the Blues  
711 – 705 Cat Island No.50
710.8 LBD Starr Landing
712 – 695 Paddler’s Routes Around Cat Island and the Casinos
Pickett Dikes Back Channel  
639.8 RBD Tunica Riverpark Museum Boat Ramp
Tunica Riverpark Museum  
Basket Bar Dikes/Porter lake Dikes  
693.8 RBD Lost Lake Pass
703 Buck Island (No. 53)
701 Gold Strike Casino
700 Fitzgerald’s Casino
Tunica to Helena
700 Basket Bar
Paddler’s Routes Through Commerce and Mhoon Bends  
695 – 690 Commerce Bend
692.5 RBD Peter’s Boat Ramp
690 Rabbit Island
Switching to thhe Helena Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
687.5 Mhoon Landing
689 – 685 Mhoon Bar
690 – 683 Mhoon Bend
682 – 679 Whiskey Chute/Walnut Bend
680 Whitehall Crevasse
Paddler’s Routes Below Walnut Bend  
Stumpy Island, Shoo Fly Bar and Tunica Lake  
Main Channel  
677.4 LBD Tunica Runout
Behind Shoo Fly Bar  
Stumpy Island  
Walnut Bend Boat Ramp  
Tunica Lake Boat Ramp  
679 RBD Walnut Bend Boat Ramp
679 – 677 Hardin Cut-Off
677.4 LBD Pass Into Tunica Lake
677 – 676 Shoo Fly Bar
677 – 674 Stumpy Island
674.5 Harbert Point
672 RBD Mouth of the St. Francis River
Primitive Landing at the Mouth of the St. Francis Rive – Conditions  
RBD 3 Miles up St. Francis River Three Mile Ramp
Daytrip: St. Francis to Helena  
St. Francis to Helena: Paddler’s Descriptions  
For Intermedite Paddlers: Right Bank Route  
For Expert Paddlers: Left Bank Route  
St. Francis River  
671 – 673 LBD St. Francis Bar
669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes
668 RBD (A View of) Crowley’s Ridge D
668-663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)
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  
Helena’s “Low Road” Into St. Francis National Forest  
King Biscuit Blues Festival (2nd Week of October)  
Helena to Friars
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
663 RBD Leaving Helena Harbor
Fleeted Barges  
Small Towns in Harbors  
Buoys and Other Stationary Objects  
Highlights of Civilization  
Pollution Within the Helena Industrial Reach  
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 LBD  
How to Get Into the Old Entrance of the Yazoo Pass  
LBD: Alternate Route to Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass  
Yazoo Pass Milage  
Rivers & Robert Johnson  
656 LBD East Montezuma Bar
657 – 654 RBD Montezuma Towhead
654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing
Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale  
652 LBD Friars Point
652.2 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
What’s to Come Further Downstream  
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