Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee
After spending several days in Chattanooga, Tennessee along the Tennessee River, we drove back home for 4 days and started driving again. This time we went to Memphis, Tennessee to visit our daughter who has moved there from Long Beach, California. Below are maps showing the state of Tennessee and also the town of Memphis, which is in the lower left side corner, at the juncture between the states of Tennessee Arkansas and Mississippi. Chattanooga is about half way between Atlanta and Nashville where we also drive often to visit our other daughter and her family. (Bottom map courtesy Ezilon – click on collage to enlarge.)
It only took us about 2 hours 15 minutes to come back from Chattanooga, but about 8 hours or more to drive to Memphis. Atlanta-Memphis is about 631 miles or 392 kilometers – which is a bit more than the distance between Paris and Stuttgart, Germany - 610 kms. I do not count missing the freeway exit in Memphis and driving to Arkansas then driving back to Memphis…. Actually downtown Memphis is bordering the Mississippi River and half way across the bridge is the Arkansas state line. We drove through Birmingham, Alabama, then the state of Mississippi. We stopped at the Tupelo Mississippi Welcome Center. It is a nice center looking very southern. I was given a map there and directions to visit Elvis Prestley’s birth place in Tupelo – but that will be for another visit. A large room on the left of the Center entrance is furnished with southern style furniture. I took pictures. (You can see my reflection in the mirror as I take a picture of a painting of the Center.)
A portrait of Elvis is in a prominent place as well as a painting of General Robert E. Lee. Local furniture and artworks are also displayed.
Our daughter lives in Mud Island, which is in downtown Memphis. It is a small peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi River. After crossing the A. W. Willis Bridge you are about 2 miles from the downtown business center and the famous Beale Street, home of the Blues. With this name in my head “Mud Island” I was a bit worried about what we would find. I was very surprised. A bridge was completed in 1987 linking to downtown Memphis and a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) was built on the island. Below is the Willis Bridge providing the entrance to the island.
The north end of the island contains about 500 houses, some apartments, a small private school, several town greens, a marina and yacht club, nature trails, ponds and walking trails. A small center called Harbor Town includes a grocery store, an inn, several restaurants and shops. The houses have a diverse architecture but most of them have decks and balconies – they are very pretty. The south end of the island is occupied by Mud Island River Park and an amphitheater seating 5,000 but we did not see the south end this time. The bottom right picture is my daughter’s house upstairs balcony. There is another balcony on the first floor as well.
I tried to find the history of the island. It seems that the flow of the Mississippi River is irregular in this area sometimes flowing upstream and other times downstream. By 1889 a small sandbar was formed by sediment deposits. The sandbar kept growing and floods in 1912 and 13 helped to build the sandbar even more. In addition, around 1910, a Spanish-American War gunboat headed upstream to St Louis ran aground on the sandbar. It was left there for a couple of years which made the sandbar grow even larger into an island. In 1917 to avoid more flooding the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel between the Tennessee shore and the island. By 1930 the city realized that this island could be an asset and built a large dike to protect it. Then highways were built and finally a bridge. We strolled along the banks of the Mississippi River on the island which looks like a pretty, open park.
Many benches invite people to rest and look at the river. Joggers and parents pushing baby strollers walk on the paved trail.
People in houses fronting the Mississippi have a wonderful view.
I went closer to take some pictures.
Walking back along the river, I admired the big, old trees and sat on a root of a big one.
Looking to my left I could watch the vehicles on the bridge driving to Arkansas.
Looking to my right it seemed a tugboat pushing a barge was motionless – but no, it was slowing coming toward me. As it came closer I waved to it and was surprised and pleased when I got an answer – a couple of horn blasts. I followed its path with my camera until the tugboat faded away.
While I was taking pictures of the tugboat, my husband was also taking pictures - but of me. I was using my little Panasonic Lumix camera which has a strong telephoto lens.
Then we walked up to one of the restaurants in Harbor Town – my daughter had an engagement that Friday evening and could not join us. The restaurant is aptly named “Tug’s - a casual grill.” Entering the restaurant your eyes are drawn to a colorful stained-glass artwork of a riverboat on the wall above the bar. It is from a Currier and Ives print called “Midnight Race on the Mississippi.” Many photos of riverboats are hung on the walls.
I had “Fish & Chips” - Beer battered cod, fried golden brown, served with tartar sauce and shoestring french fries – but I requested sweet potato fries instead. My husband had “Blackened Mississippi Pond Catfish” – served with red rice and fresh grilled vegetable. At $10.95 each this was pretty good and with a beer it was even better. Then we went back toward the river as the sun was setting.
Some people were walking along the river, some children playing and others just watching the sunset. An older gentleman, dressed all in white, was walking toward the water with a photographer in tow. I watched them for a while.
The sun was slowly moving down and everything was turning gold. It was not too warm with a soft breeze blowing.
Then we left.