The Tennessee Delta IV: Tipton County

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in June, I decided to head out around some of the backroads in Tipton County in search of things to photograph, focusing primarily on the part of the county between Highway 51 and the Mississippi River. Some of what I hoped to see I just didn’t find, such as the site of the old gambling casinos near the Shelby/Tipton county line. Presumably they had been torn down. Likewise, I could see no trace of the ill-fated Riverbend land development along Highway 59 near Randolph, nor any remnant of the old community of Richardson Landing, which apparently vanished after a land cave-in at the foot of Highway 59, sometime in the 1980’s or 1990’s. But I did find some historic churches, the Gilt Edge Cafe (which was crowded and seems worthy of a more thorough investigation), beautiful views of the Mississippi River near Randolph, old school buildings next to Black churches like St. John MB Church outside of Covington, or Canaan Grove near Mason, and old country stores like the Anderson Store at Detroit. With Tipton County being a fairly large and diverse county, including two islands in the river that can only be accessed from Arkansas, there is still much ground to cover.

Afternoon at the Confluence, Wickliffe, KY

On the outskirts of Wickliffe, Kentucky, I came to a high bluff along the river where there was a scenic overlook of the Mississippi River and a huge cross known as the Fort Jefferson Memorial Cross, which is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In the nearby town, the Ballard County Courthouse stood out as a historic and attractive building which I stopped to get a photograph of.

A Planned Community at Columbus, KY

Last summer on the American Queen cruise where I was a musician, we stopped and tied up at Columbus, Kentucky, and took a tour of the Civil War-era state park. That town of Columbus had been a traditional town, with a straight grid of streets, and had been fortified by the Confederacy in the hopes of disrupting shipping on the Mississippi River. Ulysses S. Grant had captured it quickly, moving down from his base in Cairo, Illinois, one of his first great successes of the war. But that Columbus, Kentucky perished forever in the infamous flood of 1927, and the very site of it is now in the middle of the current river. In the wake of the disaster, the American Red Cross decided that the original town could not be salvaged. Instead, they hired an urban planner in Indianapolis to plan a new Columbus, Kentucky, which he did, according to the established planning of the day, with long curved streets and a large central parkway that was named for Herbert Hoover, since he had supervised the relief effort at Columbus. Some houses and buildings were salvaged from the old town and moved to the new site, but despite the new town plan on higher ground, a majority of the residents seem to have left the area altogether, and the new town was much smaller than the one it had replaced. Unless one were to look at a map, it would be easy to visit the new Columbus and never notice that it had been a planned development. Yet on a map, the modernistic design can be easily seen, even though the lack of buildings and residents make it look incomplete.

A Morning on the Moon Walk

This beautiful riverfront walkery in New Orleans is called the Moon Walk, not because of lovely lunar vistas over the river at night as one might think, but rather in honor of “Moon” Landrieu, New Orleans’ beloved mayor of the early 1970’s, who was in many ways the first mayor to envision a New Orleans free from racism and segregation. If Landrieu’s first great passion was ending New Orleans’ shameful legacy of racism, his second was redevelopment of the city’s waterfront, and it is for this reason that the name Moon Walk is very appropriate indeed.

On the Mississippi River between Missouri and Kentucky, 8/19/12