The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
392 LBD Rodney (Ghost Town)
Rodney has operated under the flags of five different nations. Originally settled by the French in January 1763 and named Petit Gouffre, meaning Little Gulf, it was later taken by Great Britain as a result of the French and Indian War. Spain would later control this area after taking West Florida from the British in 1781. Spain would hold the site until selling it to Thomas Calvit in 1798. The city was later renamed Rodney in 1828 in honor of Judge Thomas Rodney. Rodney was officially founded in 1828, and in the 19th century, it was only three votes away from becoming the capital of the Mississippi Territory. In the never-ending rotating water wheel of fame and fortune, its population declined to nearly zero after the Mississippi River changed course in 1936.
Today a small number of inhabitants remain but the area is considered a ghost town, and reliable data is hard to find as the town is not listed as a separate entity by the census bureau.
After the fall of Vicksburg, the Union Navy was in charge of the Mississippi River. The gunboat Rattler was stationed in front of Rodney to ensure the federal control of this important town, and aware that the area was not completely secure, the admiral left strict orders that no sailor was to leave the ship. But on Sunday September 12, 1863, 22 sailors, contrary to these orders, a lieutenant, and a captain left the ship dressed in their best uniforms, and quietly seated themselves amongst the Presbyterian Church congregation. As the second hymn was being sung, a Lt. Allen of the Confederate Cavalry walked up the aisle to the pulpit. Apologizing to the Reverend Baker, he turned and announced that his men had surrounded the building and demanded the Yankee sailors surrender. One of the Yankee sailors jumped behind a door and took a shot at Lt. Allen. A general melee broke out, and most of the citizens dove under their pews for safety and reputedly one Yankee sailor hid in the undergarments of his local southern girlfriend. One older lady, however, would not run. She stood up in her pew and shouted Glory to God! A skeleton crew had remained on board the Rattler, and, when they
heard the commotion, began firing their guns at the church. The church and four homes were hit. The firing ceased once word was sent that the Confederates threatened to execute the prisoners. It was on this day that a cannonball lodged itself in the front wall of the Presbyterian Church. The Confederate Army had taken 17 prisoners, including the lieutenant and captain. The crew of the Rattler became the laughingstock of the nation, for it was the first time in history a small squad of cavalry captured the crew of an ironclad gunboat. (Local history tells us that the cannonball that is imbedded very high up in the front of the Church was placed there many years later. The original one had fallen out. Photos of the church in the 1930s [the one on this site] show no cannonball in the front of the church) To eliminate all Confederate presence in Rodney, Union infantrymen landed in Rodney and plundered almost every house in town. Citizens of Rodney later formed Company D. 22nd Mississippi infantry to fight against the Union army. (Wikipedia)
390 – 389.5 RBD Brown’s Field Island
As soon as you pass Bondurant two large towhead islands appear on the Louisiana side of the river (right bank descending) with an enticing back channel to explore. Upper Island is 3 miles long, and the lower a little over 1 mile long. The top end of the back channel only breaks open in high water, around 30NG, but can be accessed between the two islands, where it is always open. Both islands boast high sandy forests with good year round camping. Notable high sandy bluffs are found on the top island below the 2nd dike at 389.5 RBD and the 3rd dike at 388.5 RBD. Low water camping can be found on sandbars which grow around the bottom island below 20NG.
385.9 LBD Below Brown’s Field Wetlands
Curious paddlers and birders will find a glorious wetlands surrounded by rookeries, and full of waders and waterfowl of all sorts, right bank descending at 385.9 RBD. Stay close to the bank below Brown’s Field Islands or you’ll miss it! Narrow opening passable by water above 20NG. This wetlands might have once been fed by Choctaw Bayou. In low water you can make landing and sneak in by foot. Keep your binoculars and camera handy.
389 – 387 LBD Cottage Bend Islands
Cottage Bend Islands are visible from upstream by the bluffs of sand on the tops of the islands in low and medium water) and are found left bank descending opposite Brown’s Field Islands a couple of miles below Bondurant. These two willow-topped babies are cradled by the enormous Rodney Island No 111 which has immigrated to the Mississippi shore. Rodney becomes an island during high water and its back channel reopens creating the passage for spectacular exploration.
A small rounded bluff of sand forms at the top of the highest island and is a beautiful picnic site and possible campsite, and would afford good shelter in any southerly or southeasterly storms or winds. The sandy-bottomed willow forests at the top of this island sets a beautiful all weather location, although it is dry up to bank full (40 NG) and then gets submerged.
There is nothing like camping in a willow forest on a bed of willow leaves surrounded by the graceful tree trunks of these benevolent trees. They provide shade close to the river in the summer, and wind shelter in the winter. A mature willow forest forms open arbors that provide ample air circulation, blessing you with dark green shade, and enough air flow in between the trunks to wick off your hot body and simultaneously keep the mosquitoes at bay. Everything about the willow is pleasing and beautiful to behold, its wood, its roots, its leaves, its flowers. When you burn willow the smoke is an incense, when you carve it a blonde wood singed with cinnamon grains and blue/green stains is revealed.