Comments: Queries

How about some tiny little town along the banks of the Mississippi? There's gotta be one that would fit the bill.

But really I'm from the NORTH and have NO CLUE about Southern rivers except that the Mississippi STARTS in like Minnesota or something.

Posted by Tuli at March 25, 2009 1:20 PM

Okay ... not LA ... But I totally vote for it being in/near Lake Village AR (so AR/MS boarder) ... and there is a Lake Chicot which use to be part of the Mississippi River, but it did that ox bow thingy and now it's a lake. With fish that fly out of the water when they hear a boat motor and go kersplat on the boat and shower you in blood and guts. Which makes you WISH you'd swum in the Mississippi and drowneded. It is right across the river/boarder from Greenville, MS.

Posted by Mit at March 25, 2009 1:50 PM

Well one of your multi-tasking credits goes to entertaining the living daylights out of me ;)

Posted by Heather at March 25, 2009 1:51 PM

Well, you're gonna get my vote for South LA. The Mississippi is the obvious choice, because anything else I can think of isn't so big or nasty and not all that murderous. But the Mississippi, well the old girl's a killer. Take your pick of little towns, depends how close you want to the coast or the mouth of the river. Depends just how teeny-tiny too, because we've got some that barely show up on the map. You know, like all those ones named after the guy that lives there.

Posted by Michelle at March 25, 2009 1:58 PM

I love the sound of this town's name: Micanopy (Mick-can-oh'-pee). Unfortunately it's in the wrong state- Florida (just to the south of Gainesville. No river running through it but there are many ponds with quaint names like Hog Pond. Definately a town with atmosphere. Truly a town forgotten in time...if that's what you're looking for.

Posted by JeanEva at March 25, 2009 2:09 PM

I just want to know what chicken vindaloo is???

Posted by pam at March 25, 2009 2:22 PM

You should totally set it on the river where Deliverance was filmed;) :)

Posted by Tina at March 25, 2009 2:26 PM

The Tennessee (where I grew up) always looks drown-worthy to me....esp near Loudon County just south of Knoxville. Shudder.

Posted by Beth at March 25, 2009 2:32 PM

I'm from mississippi and my mother is a river and stream officer for the department of environmental quality. she would be so TICKLED to get one of her rivers in a book-- and can I tell you, Mississippi has some rural, ruralness that just is unequalled. her email is bivster at gmail dot com. I'll tell her I passed her info along!

Posted by elizabeth at March 25, 2009 2:36 PM

You ROCK! Go back to Doctor Giggles? HELL to the NO! (Make me hurt myself laughing? HELL to the YES!)

Rather west of the Mississippi, in Louisiana, is a little area with some cool names: the Atchafalaya Basin Main Channel, flowing down by the Bayou L Embarras, a couple of miles from the specks on the map called Coteau, Loreauville, Vida, and Morbihan. Don't know how big those bodies of water are, but they are also near, and flow into, Lake Fausse Pointe. The names ALONE seem dramatic and meaningful.


Posted by Jennifer at March 25, 2009 2:43 PM

there is also a place near where 55 and I-10 meet as you go from Mississippi to New Orleans where you look off the interstate which is elevated over the swamp and see houses (or fish camps) on stilts with boats-- like venice, only john boats, not gondolas. I tried to find it on Google, and can't-- I'll ask my brother-in-law who is from new orleans. They don't have a gas station, but they do have fried food. I think it is on the other side from the Atchafalaya river basin. These people are most likey Cajun gator eaters.

I'm getting over-involved in this...must continue down the to do list...

Also for Mississippi beauty: the Yazoo river and the Tennessee--Tombigbee. State parks on or near them. And one of them has a sign that roughly says: no dogs, no swimming. alligators.

Posted by elizabeth at March 25, 2009 2:52 PM

Too bad Georgia doesn't work ... I'm from Rome, the home of 3 rivers. The Oostanaula and Etowah meet to form the Coosa. My dad grew up in a house haunted by a woman whose son dived off of one of the bridges in Rome. She (the ghost) would sit on my Aunt Barbara's bed in the middle of the night. We LOVE it when she tells those stories. :)
Rome is probably too urban anyway.

Posted by Dana at March 25, 2009 2:55 PM

I have no southern river suggestions as I am a New Englander and they've already written murderous river stories about my area. But I do know how to pronouce that thing you described in your mouth. I think it is hemorrhoid. Isn't it?

Despite my sarcasm, I would love the recipe for chicken vindaloo in a crockpot. I understand if you try to include spit as an ingredient in the copy you give to me.

Posted by Em at March 25, 2009 3:08 PM

Now see, if you were willing to come back to Texas I would direct you to the delightful small town of Wimberley, which sits upon the San Marcos river, and people drown in there every now and then. But I do believe you implied that Texas wasn't really THE SOUTH. Oh yes, you did. So just never you mind.

HOWEVER, if you wanted to do the Louisiana/Mississippi but not New Orleans thing, I HIGHLY recommend Abita Springs, LA because it is a strange and delightful little place. And while it's not ON a river, it's NEAR the Old Man, and also directly north of Lake Pontchartrain. And when you go there to research your book, you can get you some AWESOME root beer that is sweetened with cane sugar. Also, they have shrimps.

Posted by Badger at March 25, 2009 3:30 PM

Here are my suggestions for great rivers in southern towns good to drown people in:

Chattahoochee River--Phenix City, AL (This river borders GA and AL)

Suwanne River--Fanning Springs, FL (Right off US Hwy 19. Great for a fast escape after drowing somoene.)

Rainbow River--Dunnellon, FL (Nice little quaint town with stories probably waiting to be told. )

Withlacochee River--Inglis, FL (A small town with a population of 1500. Also off of US Hwy 19.)

Posted by Trace at March 25, 2009 3:31 PM

I'm from northeast Alabama. The town of Scottsboro, Alabama, is on the Tennessee River. It has about 14,000 people. It's the county seat and largest town in Jackson County. Many, many smaller towns along or very near the river there. Good luck on the new book.

Posted by Marilyn at March 25, 2009 3:43 PM

The Pascagoula River, in Mississippi, is one of the only natural, unaltered rivers out there. (Our mom really would know more). I'm not sure about drowning in it.

University Press of Mississippi (where I work) has a couple of river books that might be helpful:
Paddling the Pascagoula:
Canoeing Louisiana:
Canoeing Mississippi:

Posted by elizabeth's sister at March 25, 2009 3:46 PM

I know you are too young to remember this, but back in the '60's there was a southern song about Billy Joe McAllister who committed suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchee Bridge in MS. This is a real place around Tupelo. See Link:

Posted by Queen Mum at March 25, 2009 3:52 PM

I would agree with Mit on Lake Village, AR. It would be perfect for what you are talking about. Still very small town, but within driving distance of both Mississippi and Louisiana.

Posted by Alison at March 25, 2009 3:53 PM

How about Beulah Mississippi? It has an Oxbo lake thingy that once was part of the Mississippi River. Evidently Beulah has under 6,000 residents. Love the name.

Posted by Just Gin at March 25, 2009 4:24 PM

Tennessee isn't very far away, has lots of rivers (and caving, maybe you could work a cave in) and small towns, and the guy who took us white water rafting was named Cave Man and told us in his Tennessean accent, "It's awl goood" about a hundred times. But one time, when a snake slithered by his feet, he did *not* say "It's awl goood;" instead he leaped--more like levitated--and said all the bad words I know faster than his drawl could keep up. Also, Tennessee has that TVA, which has single-handedly spawned 30% of all folk songs. Lastly, I think Georgia and Tennessee are still sending troops to one another's borders over this water/boundary thing (see the AJC last summer for details).

Posted by JenK at March 25, 2009 4:45 PM

I have fallen in love with my crockpot all over again, after finding the Crockpot 365 blog. Have you been there? IT IS TEH AWESOME.

So, recipe for the Chicken Vindaloo, please? Linky link?

Posted by Lindsey at March 25, 2009 4:59 PM

Always willing to help with a little research:

TomBigBee River in Mississippi: On April 28, 1979, a tugboat called Cahaba was on the Tombigbee near Demopolis, Alabama. It was passing under a drawbridge that failed to open while the river was near flood stage. The fast currents pinned the craft against the bridge in shallow waters. The force was so dramatic that it pulled the boat downward, tumbling it beneath the bridge, fully submerging it in the river. The boat emerged out the other side with mostly cosmetic damage and righted itself.

Or try Big Black River:

Also keep in mind that many of the rivers in Mississippi are deadly only when they flood -- otherwise they are slow moving silt filled muddy messes.

Posted by Patricia at March 25, 2009 5:29 PM

The Arkansas River in Arkansas is very drowny. Also, there are three decent lakes for drowning in Hot Springs, AR, where I am from. There is also the mob there (or used to be) so I suspect those lakes have seen many bodies.

Posted by megan at March 25, 2009 5:52 PM

I obviously need to travel to the southern U.S. Some of the places people are suggesting sound absolutely delicious. And speaking of delicious - Mmmmmmmmm. Vindaloo!

Posted by Sandra Leigh at March 25, 2009 5:54 PM

I'm going to vote on the Lower Tom Bigbee river near the AL/MS line. Some tiny towns of note would be Eutaw, AL & Moscow, AL

Posted by Amanda at March 25, 2009 6:02 PM

I talked to Mom and she said if you want a big and pretty river in MS definitely the Pascagoula river, also known as the singing river. One of the most untouched and beautiful rivers in the US. Has a sill, but no dams, etc. PBS did a special on it titled "The Singing River." People canoe, kayak, etc. Definitely a high quality river.

Earnest Herndon has a book on canoeing in mississippi, also _nature trails and gospel tails_ published by IVP. WRites for the Enterprise Journal in McComb Mississippi. 3 doz writing awards... Mom says he's nice and very approachable, laidback "a real Southerner." He has apparently canoed ALL the rivers in Mississippi.

Also there is the MS canoe and kayak club, Larry Estes is the guy there to talk to.

If you're looking for more a white trash river, the Bogue Chitto. I've tubed it, and it has lots of drunk and riotous people. The litter is terrible. It's big enough to drown in, and people fish there, etc.

mom's telling me all about the stages of rivers, apparently they have sort of a life cycle which relates to how wide and deep they are.

mom says just call up ernest herndon and tell him what you are hoping for and he will be delighted to help you.

Posted by elizabeth at March 25, 2009 6:16 PM

Mom's still talking... oxbows are usually in the delta, which is actually The Delta. Talk about a sense of place-- and the culture and the blues, and the food, oh the food. There is a BB king blues festival there, too I think, that I have always wanted to go to.

Posted by elizabeth at March 25, 2009 6:26 PM

I think it would be great if you come up north just a little - the Missouri River is treacherous! And we have lots of small river towns in Missouri that would so fit the bill. Like Sibley, or Napoleon. Yes, I know - it's not the deep south, but pretty close to the Mason - Dixon line. How about it? And best of all, if you came to my part of the woods, we could meet up!

Posted by Kathy at March 25, 2009 6:30 PM

The Buffalo and the Homochitto Rivers in SW Mississippi have both drowned people--the Buffalo is particularly dangerous, and the Homochitto had a bridge collapse while cars were on the bridge!

SW Mississippi is spectacularly creeping, and there's Angola & Tunica Falls nearby. Some very interesting towns to poke around--Liberty, Woodville, Amite, Centreville (my home town is Natchez, which is probably too... something)

Coastal rivers in Louisiana tend to be a little too snakey and sluggish for people to want to get in. I'm thinking it has to be a river someone would want to hang out in, right?

Posted by dynagirl at March 25, 2009 6:49 PM

Not in your preferred states, but my first thought is the Nolichucky River, which goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC/TN, or the Watauga River, which branches off the Nolichucky in TN.

You can definitely drown in those rivers--they're full of whitewater rapids for tubing/kayaking, and people fish in them and such.

Some good town suggestions on these rivers: Erwin (claim to fame: they executed an elephant there by hanging in 1916, for stomping its trainer), Elizabethton (Andrew Johnson died on the banks of the Watauga here), and Mount Carmel, all in TN.

People have definitely drowned in both these rivers, and if you google around you can find some good ghost stories about them, esp the Devil's Looking-Glass area of the Nolichucky.

Posted by Rachel at March 25, 2009 7:37 PM

the tongue thing... i've had it. and i had it removed. (i'm thinking it was the same unpronouncable, benign thing you've got) i would recommend the not removing of it if you can help it. my removal envolved 3 tries and an eventual 167 stitches in my tongue. and the nerve severed so that the tip of my tongue is forever numb. and it led to tmj. so, maybe you could give it a name and keep it.

but, on the upside, i did loose a gazillion pounds!!

Posted by monica at March 25, 2009 8:23 PM

Jennifer, the place you are thinking of is the Bonnet Carre Spillway (and the fried food (in particular catfish) is at Middendorf's in Manchac.

Joshilyn- I live in Lafayette, LA and you should see all the creepy, but wonderful, rivers and waterways around here. They are primordial and each one is connected to the next. The most amazing thing to me is that the men who fish the Atchafalaya Basin (a bunch of connected waterways with great names like Bayou Boeuf or Jack Ass Bayou) know every nook and cranny of it and can identify any small corner of it from a photograph. I get lost if my boat is not in view of the boat launch. I can put you in touch with some people who could show you around, like this guy:

Another water body with a great name is just north of here- the Ouiska Chitto River (pronounced by locals as Whiskey Chittah).

I will send an email with more info if you are interested.

Posted by Jill W. at March 25, 2009 9:52 PM

Good on you about the doctor thing. That was the wrong place.
In terms of a river -- any will be deadly under the right circumstance. We had a body pop up just this week from a man who went missing on Christmas day. Our river was not a flood stage, but it was cold, and he was ill. So, if a place calls you, the river will be as deadly as you need.

Posted by JulieB at March 25, 2009 9:53 PM

"But I do know how to pronouce that thing you described in your mouth. I think it is hemorrhoid. Isn't it? " Em slayed me with this one.

I am from the very tippy-tip corner of northeastern Louisiana (Bastrop) within spitting distance of both Arkansas AND Mississippi. My mother was born in Lake Village. That part of Louisiana is known more for its bayous--lots and lots of those around.

The biggest river in them parts is the Ouachita River, but Monroe and West Monroe probably aren't the look you're going for as far as towns go. You could always base the book in somewhere like Calhoun or Swartz or Sterlington or Marion or Start (home of Tim McGraw) for the small-town feel with a river in reach. Also there is Lake D'Arbonne--not a river--and the Bonee Idee which is a glorified drainage canal that waters the cotton and soybean fields near Mer Rouge and Oak Grove. It runs fast and furious at times of the year, and one of the only roads you can take to get to it is called "The Goat Run." There is a bridge you have to cross that's only slightly wider than a pick-up.

Natchitoches, LA has lots of waterways and many small towns nearby. AND don't forget the Sabine River that separates Texas and Louisiana--there's also Toledo Bend. . .a resevoir that swallowed up TONS of things to be created. Sorry. Got carried away. People don't often write about lesser-known parts of Louisiana.

Posted by Roxanne at March 25, 2009 10:07 PM

Roxanne- Toledo Bend is a good idea, too. In the middle of jackslap nowhere. We have a camp up there on the lake. It is a great place to get away (although I have yet to drown anyone up there...) ; )

Posted by Jill W. at March 25, 2009 10:36 PM

Oops- I said Jennifer, above, but I meant Elizabeth- that's who mentioned the place where I55 meets I10.

Posted by Jill W. at March 25, 2009 10:39 PM

I vote with Roxanne up there for a town like Natchitoches, LA (NEAR a river, sort of on a long lake) or, because I have Big Love for my family farm near Fairhope, the Mobile River in South Alabama.

Posted by Casey at March 25, 2009 10:50 PM

If you've been Googling, then you probably already saw this (and I've never even BEEN to the south except in movies and books, but I went looking at maps and this one jumped out at me - the Pearl River. I mean, that's got to have loads of symbolism you could play with! It rambles along the Lousiana/Mississippi state border. Photos of it looked like it opened up pretty good at least in parts. There's a couple Podunk towns with great names as well - Crossroads. Oh my stars, great name for a town! Looks like it's a blink and you miss it sort of thing from Google map. You could go up and down it and see if there were other communities that would fit better. And, you can even take a look at the area from afar - did you know about the little yellow man that you can plop down on google maps and if the street accepts him, you can see everything around from eye level!? I just found this out yesterday and it's awesome.
Don't know if this helps at all but man oh man, it was fun to research.

Posted by Laume at March 25, 2009 10:57 PM

When I went on a mission trip to NM, I almost drowned in the Cheat River. But it was my first time white water rafting and I was a wussy to boot.

Posted by Dory at March 25, 2009 11:14 PM

The Black River goes through Missouri and Arkansas. It's very nice for picnics. I'm pretty sure it's good for drowning. I was always sure I would get caught in a current or sucked into a deep hole and drown whenever we went swimming in it. Although that didn't stop me from swinging out on a rope and jumping into it. Poplar Bluff, Missouri is where I did my picnicing and not quite drowning. But I'm not sure PB is small enough. I think it has maybe 13,000 people. But you could use Lesterville. I bet it's small and it has a funny name.

Posted by Leslie Noon at March 25, 2009 11:44 PM

how about the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa, AL? It has flooded in the past, although not too recently. You also have University of Alabama there, so you could work in some dimwit coeds. (yes, I know--there are MANY who are not dimwits. Unfortunately they never made to any of my music classes. I only had the ones who couldn't find their @ss using both hands...)


Posted by Phyllis at March 26, 2009 8:55 AM

I'm in Missouri and around here there are creeks that turn into rivers when it rains and rains and rains...Maybe a creek turned river...aaaagggggg For the life of me the name of the darn thing that is always jumping it's banks and flooding roads for days on end just jumped out of my mind...anyways its near Concordia and Sweet Springs, Missouri

Good Luck...

Posted by Linda J at March 26, 2009 12:50 PM

I second Rachel's recommendation of the Watauga and Nolichucky Rivers in east Tennessee. Jonesborough is a great little town, claiming to be the oldest in the state, where they have a huge storytelling festival every year.

Posted by Carol at March 26, 2009 1:51 PM

I agree with Julie B- the river can be as deadly as you need it to be. Rivers are quite changeable- is that why they are referred to as being like women? There is a very, very small creek near my house that claimed the life of a fourteen year old. Knowledge I wish the neighbors had kept to themselves. The child was drowned the same year my child was born, so I always know how old she should have been. (useless info to have rattling around in my brain)

Posted by Judyb at March 26, 2009 3:48 PM

I have to vote with Badger - you sure you don't want another part of Texas? Wimberley is nice but you should check out the Frio River (always cold!) where you find tiny towns like Vanderpool, Concan and (my favorite) Utopia (where Thomas Haden Church - he was Sandman in Spiderman 3 - has a ranch).

Posted by AJ at March 26, 2009 4:57 PM

The San Marcos River.

Posted by jean at March 26, 2009 5:50 PM

The Ohio River in Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia. It's more "red-necky" than south, but it's a sure thing flyspeck of a town with colorful fauna.

Love your work, BTW!

Posted by Mondo at March 27, 2009 5:30 AM

Ooooh! Deadly, murderous rivers? Yow! I like it!

Posted by Carmen at March 28, 2009 9:21 AM

i have almost as much fun reading the comments as i do reading your blog!!!!! also have cat in lap so can only type one finger

Posted by Judy at March 28, 2009 11:32 AM

Hey, don't forget you promised you would set SOMETHING in Bucksnort, TN. Come on, you can't pass up a name like that and it has Duck River. :)

Posted by Marisa at March 28, 2009 2:18 PM

I'm from up north (grew up in Ontario), and it always seems a little funny to me when I hear you talk about Texas and California as not being south enough for you. Don't have any rivers to suggest, but good luck with your search.
I've been a lurker here for a while. Today I finally got a chance to start reading Gods, and wanted to tell you that I'm loving it, and can't wait to see how it ends

Posted by Bronwynn at March 29, 2009 6:31 PM

you're not goofing off, you're *doing research*.

Posted by ebethnyc at March 31, 2009 11:18 AM

I am from a small town in South Louisiana called Breaux Bridge which is near Lafayette. There are many rivers and bayous around this town. The Bayou Teche runs through the town and has the Indian history that a really big snake carved the bayou as he slithered. There is also the Atchafalaya River and Basin. This is more to do with Henderson and other levee towns but I can see it being big and dangerous and no one wanting to swim in it. And spooky cypress trees and gators are always nice. All of these places have the added benefit of really fun names that no one knows how to pronounce. Kind of like the Tchefuncte or Tangipahoa or Tickfaw rivers in Louisiana. There is always the Amite river in Baton Rouge which is near Bayou Manchac. Oh how I love southern names.

If you decide to go with something in Breaux Bridge or Baton Rouge you are welcome to stay with me or my family when you visit.

Posted by Karen at March 31, 2009 2:19 PM