BackgroundEagle Lake is an oxbow lake northwest of Vicksburg. A short geology explanation: When a river flows through a wide alluvial valley (a geologic depression filled with riverine-deposited sediment), the river usually meanders, meaning it develops into tightly curved S-shaped channels. Often the channel almost curves back on itself. Over time, some of the curves are breached and the river rushes through the new opening to flow through the lower part of the S. The former bend of the river is abandoned, forming an oxbow lake. Eagle Lake, Lake Chicot, and Lake Washington are examples of oxbow lakes. These lakes become valuable habitat for fish and numerous bird species. Gradually (over hundreds of years) the lakes fill with organic debris and silt. The Mississippi valley between Cape Girardeau and the delta in the Gulf of Mexico shows evidence of hundreds of changes in these meanders as well as buried former channels throughout the alluvial valley (Fisk, 1944).
|Eagle Lake, Mississippi. Map from ESRI ArcGIS online based on US Geological Survey topographic maps.|
Some Sights near Town
|Mt. Zion Church, near Laney Camp Road, Mississippi. Hasselblad, 50mm Distagon lens.|
|Lightning-struck tree at Mt. Zion Church, near Laney Camp Road, Mississippi.|
Panatomic-X film from a Hasselblad 501CM camera (tripod-mounted).
Beaches and forest
|Beach near Tara Wildlife Center with non-native rock in the foreground.|
Access like this to the river is relatively rare. Many visitors to the region are surprised that normally they can only see the river from high towns, like Vicksburg or Natchez, or from an occasional commercial loading facility. The reason is the placement of the flood-control levees. The main stem levees of the Mississippi River extend from Cape Girardeau in Missouri to the mouth of the river at the Gulf of Mexico. The levees are usually built some distance from the low water river channel, sometimes as much as one or two miles away (see Figure 1). The low terrain between the main channel and the levees is usually forested and subject to inundation whenever there is a high water event. The purpose of the forest is to provide friction to reduce the velocity of the water during high water. In effect, the forest helps protect the levees by preventing high currents from washing directly against the flanks of the earthen structures.
|Example of pond and vegetation found in hardwood bottomland.|
ReferencesClark, J.R., and Benforado, J. (Eds.), 1980. Wetlands of Bottomland Hardwood Forests: Proceedings of a Workshop on Bottomland Hardwood Forest Wetlands of the Southeastern United States. Developments in Agricultural and Managed-Forest Ecology, 11, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, 401p.
Fisk, H.N., 1944. Geological investigation of the alluvial valley of the lower Mississippi River. U.S. Department of the Army, Mississippi River Commission, 78p. Online: http://lmvmapping.erdc.usace.army.mil/index.htm Accessed Sep. 13, 2018.