O Brother! What a history

The town of Coldwater’s history includes being moved to allow room for Arkabutla Lake.

The town of Coldwater is the epitome of small-town Delta Mississippi. Named after the nearby river two miles south of town, Coldwater has a population of just fewer than 2,000 people.

Several small streets make up the community originally named Elm Grove at its founding in 1856.

As it grew into a railroad community, it became Coldwater and a proper township officially incorporated in 1872. Settlers from nearby states, connected with the railroad, accounted for most of the growth.

Like the rest of the Delta, Coldwater faced periodic river flooding, and in 1942, as part of the movement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to tame the mighty Mississippi and it’s tributaries during spring floods, the Arkabutla Lake and Dam project was built — literally on top of the town.

Coldwater was moved to its current location 1.5 miles south of the old Elm Grove village site.

Today there is a monument dedicated to the old town of Coldwater just west of the Coldwater exit off Interstate 55. There you can see a few remnants of the old town; however, a majority of the site remains under water year round.

Arkabutla Lake and the town of Coldwater have become synonymous. The area occupied by Arkabutla Lake used to be a valley, originally occupied by Coldwater, now turned into a lake as part of a project to help control flooding.

In the Cohen Brothers’ movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” George Clooney’s character, Everett McGill allegedly has treasure buried at a cabin located in a valley that is flooded during the construction of Arkabutla Reservoir.

The movie has a brief still shot of a newspaper dated Tuesday, July 13, 1937, that has a headline that reads “T.V.A. FINALIZING PLANS FOR FLOODING OF ARKTABUTLA VALLEY.”

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About Phillip Gentry 396 Articles
Phillip Gentry is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer who says that if it swims, walks, hops, flies or crawls he’s usually not too far behind.

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