The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
367 – 365 LBD Remnants of Cypress Forest
In low and medium water levels, the stumps of giant cypress trees can be seen at the base of the bluffs along the left bank descending and are the remnants of the forests found here that stalled the opening of the Giles Cut-Off (1933).
Lake Concordia in Louisiana was an ancient bed of the Lower Mississippi. The newer bend in front of it was called Marengo Bend, and just above was Giles Bend.
In Marengo Bend, the river followed its usual pattern and the neck where Giles plantation was located became extremely narrow. Water flowed across Giles Neck in the floods of 1907, 1922, and 1927, and it became obvious that the river would soon abandon Marengo Bend. In 1933, the Army Corps of Engineers attempted to forestall the river’s action by constructing an artificial cutoff that would bring the channel into better alignment than the river would achieve if left to its own devices.
Giles Cutoff was very slow to develop, and during the next low water period the engineers discovered why. Ancient cypress trees were embedded in the hard blue mud at the bottom of the artificial cut, and they were forming an effective obstruction to the low water flow. After several years of intermittent dredging, the natural dam was finally removed, and the river accepted the Giles Cutoff as its new bed.
Lake Concordia, a bed abandoned by the Mississippi centuries ago, may have been the last resting place of the Spanish explorer, Hernando DeSoto, who died of fever and exhaustion somewhere along the banks of the river in 1542.
(Marion Bragg: Historic Names & Places)
365 RBD Opening to Old River — Bottom End (Marengo Bend Lake)
Only access to Marengo Lake/Old River. Public boat launch 8 miles around the outside bend of the lake (west side). The water never gets too low to paddle into the bottom end of Marengo Lake for a view into the thriving bankside life you are missing staying entirely to the main channel.
363.5 LBD Natchez-Under-the-Hill
Steep concrete ramp diving into the river at the base of the Natchez Bluffs, the best place to make a landing and a visit to the classy river town of Natchez. After you make landing and get your land legs, stroll up to the top of the ramp and cross Silver Street to none other than the legendary Natchez-Under-the-Hill to wet your whistle and refill your water bottles. You can rent a room for the night above the bar, but your sleep might be interrupted until the wee-wee hours by the revelry underneath. Be sure to spend some time enjoying the historical photos cluttering the walls, and if you’re lucky spend some time talking with Andre Sr, the bar owner and former river pilot.
Before leaving the ramp pull your vessel completely out of the water and secure somewhere out of the way, or risk capsize. The waves around the outside edge of the Natchez Bend tend to hit big and hard. Even though this ramp is privately owned, it is paddler friendly.
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