Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Memphis: Old Man River

One repeat performance I asked of my hostess (above, right) -- another brief boat tour of the Mississippi, like the little trip I enjoyed some 8-10 years ago. After all, that bluff over the mighty Mississippi is what Memphis is and has been all about.

This is our boat. Another scenic river boat to the right. As you can see below, there was a crowd, including a batch of school kids out for a year end learning experience. The tour featured a continuing lecture by a chap who styled himself Rooster; I must say he packed plenty of Memphis facts into his spiel!

Looking back at the landing (above) and the city (below).

During our brief 2-hour outing, I saw several tugs; many were complete to a barge train.

The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains that a single 15-barge tow is equivalent to about 225 rail cars or 870 tractor-trailer trucks. If the cargo transported on the inland waterways each year had to be moved by another mode, it would take an additional 6.3 million rail cars or 25.2 million trucks to carry the load. Imagine adding this traffic with the associated air pollution to the already congested rail lines and highways that pass through our communities. The ability to move more cargo per shipment makes barge transport both fuel efficient and environmentally advantageous. On average, a gallon of fuel allows one ton of cargo to be shipped 59 miles by truck, 202 miles by rail, and 514 miles by barge. Carbon dioxide emissions from water transportation were 10 million metric tons less in 1997 than if rail transportation had been used.

A barge facility on the Arkansas side of the river.

It's difficult for a picture to really describe just how big the Mississippi truly is, but I tried! Perhaps the photo below gives an indication.

The newest of the traffic bridges over the huge river; this graceful structure carries I-40 on its way west. It is named for the early explorer, Hernando deSoto.

I-55 and two railroad bridges comprise this trio. The oldest of the RR bridges was built in 1892. Constructed in 1949, long before the interstate highway system, the traffic bridge was originally named for Ed Crump, boss of the infamous Memphis (and Tennessee) political machine. I'm sure that name doesn't ring many bells these days, but in my youth, when I was very (and foolishly) political, Boss Crump was anathema to all right-thinking folk.

Memphis is where it is because of the stable bluffs on the east side of the river. As the local economy has evolved in new directions such as the main Fed-Ex hub at the airport, some of the old waterfront warehouse structures are enjoying gentrification.

Pricey new housing in old Memphis styles line sections of the riverfront.

A less successful waterfront project is the pyramid. After all, the city is named Memphis; ergo, a pyramid is obviously a necessity. Designed as the venue for a variety of sports and events, the site suffered from a big lack of parking space according to locals. A new stadium has been a further blow. But it does make for cool photographs.

The beached car is one of the sights visible from our tourist boat. The river ran much higher early this spring thanks to major runoff from the north; as to the source of the automobile, Rooster, our commentator, admitted that nobody knew.

The Famous Niece from Memphis & I discovered this bit of Mississippi River tug boat memorabilia in an industrial district near the waterfront. The bridge from a dismantled boat was in use as an office behind an old wall that appeared to have an important but mysterious history.


meggie said...

I can see that river is huge. I can only imagine one that large. What great pictures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cruise. We drove across the river many years ago and it is wide. Nice shots.

Anonymous said...

FNFM here: Be sure to note that the big bridge is an "M" which, of course stands for "Memphis". It is lighted at night.

Anonymous said...

Great tour, GJ. I've never been to Memphis, but I have seen the MS river in NOLA...big river!

A Wikipedia article on E.H. "Boss" Crump told me more about a politician I just learned about from you!

~Anon in AV.

quilteddogs said...

Never been to Memphis but I used to spend a week every summer at our family's "shack" right on the Mississippi in Minnesota. The barges would go by constantly and I never tired of watching them. It is a big river.

Granny J said...

meggie -- one gets used to Big Rivers all over the American South, but the size of the Mississippi has to be seen to believe in.

steve -- glad to bring back memories for you.

Famous Niece -- glad to have you back among my readers. That is one beautiful bridge.

anon av -- thanks for the suggestion -- I'll link Boss Crump.

qd -- what a lovely summer memory! I recall barge trains on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, tho they were pulled rather than being pushed as on the Mississippi.

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