Arkansas v. Mississippi
256 U.S. 28 (1921)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Arkansas v. Mississippi, 256 U.S. 28 (1921)

Arkansas v. Mississippi

No. 6, Original

Motion for confirmation of report of commissioners

and suggestions in support of same submitted

February 28, 1921

Final decree entered April 11, 1921

256 U.S. 28




Decree reciting report of the commissioners heretofore appointed to run, locate, and mark the boundary between Arkansas and Mississippi involved in this case, overruling the exceptions thereto filed by Mississippi, confirming the report, establishing the boundary as set forth by the said report and upon the map accompanying the same, and allowing the expenses and compensation of the said commissioners as part of the costs of this suit to be borne equally by the parties, etc.


The State of Arkansas having moved the Court to take up for consideration the exceptions filed by the State

Page 256 U. S. 29

of Mississippi to the report of the commissioners appointed by the decree in this cause on the twenty-second day of March, 1920 ( 252 U. S. 252 U.S. 344), to run, locate, and permanently mark the boundary line between the States of Arkansas and Mississippi, and the State of Mississippi, having filed certain exceptions to said report, which report is in the words and figures following, to-wit:

"To the Honorable Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States"

"We, Samuel S. Gannett, Washington, D.C., Charles H. Miller, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Stevenson Archer, Jr., Greenville, Mississippi, commissioners appointed under the decree of the Court rendered March 22, 1920, 'to run, locate and designate the boundary line between said states along that portion of said river which ceased to be a part of the main navigable channel of said river as the result of said avulsion, in accordance with the above principles: commencing at a point in said Mississippi River about one mile southwest from Friar Point, Coahoma County, Mississippi, where the main navigable channel of said river, prior to said avulsion, turned and flowed in a southerly direction, and thence following along the middle of the former main channel of navigation by its several courses and windings to the end of said portion of said Mississippi River which ceased to be a part of the main channel of navigation of said river as the result of said avulsion of 1848,' have the honor to submit the following report, which report is accompanied by a map entitled:"

" Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1919. No. 7, Original. Map Showing Boundary Line Between States of Arkansas and Mississippi below Friar Point, Mississippi."

"On account of a continuous high stage in the Mississippi River, it was impracticable to carry on any field work previous to August 1, 1920, but, in the meantime, the

Page 256 U. S. 30

record was read, local data and maps were examined, and preliminary investigations made in the field."

"The commissioners met at Friar Point, Mississippi, August 4, 1920, and proceeded to view the ground and formulate a plan of procedure."

"The determination of the boundary line proceeded upon the finding of the law as laid down by the Court -- namely, that, if the former channel of a river separating two states ceases to be navigable by reason of an avulsion, it does not render inapplicable the rule which fixes as the boundary line the middle of the navigable channel, rather than the middle line between the banks. Arkansas v. Tennessee, 246 U.S. 246 U. S. 158, sec. 4."

"After a study of all the evidence in the case and a careful examination of the physical facts on the ground at this time, the commissioners are unanimously of the opinion that 'Horseshoe Lake' or 'Old River' or 'Pecan Lake' was, at the time the avulsion or cut-off took place, the main navigable channel of the Mississippi River, and therefore this portion of the boundary line should follow in general the deepest water in this lake."

"Leaving the west or lower end of Horseshoe Lake, the boundary line, as determined by your commissioners, follows, in general, the course of the present 'channel' or well defined chute which runs in a northeasterly direction to the Mississippi River, because the evidence on the ground (namely, well defined high banks on both sides for practically the entire distance, both of which are covered with timber of about the same age; its location west of the meander line of 1833 near the 'Horseshoe Lake' where caving would be expected, and its location east of the meander line of 1833 at a point farther north where accretion would be expected) clearly indicates that this was the last channel actually navigated by the steamboats that entered the 'Horseshoe Lake' several years after the avulsion or cut-off of 1848. "

Page 256 U. S. 31

"n arriving at the proper location for the line between the northeast end of 'Horseshoe Lake' and the Mississippi River at a point about one mile southwest from Friar Point, we considered the following facts and conditions:"

"(a) The Arkansas shore, being in a concave bend, would naturally undergo some caving or recession during the 32 years between the date of the original land survey (1816) and the date of the cut-off (1848)."

"(b) The 'slough' immediately east of the field in sections 10 and 15, Township 4, South Range 4 East, being totally devoid of short and irregular bends and following a generally uniform curve of radius similar to that of the original river in this vicinity, was without doubt formed by the main river, and the great difference in the age of the timber on the west bank as compared with the age of that on the east bank shows that the west bank of this 'slough' marked the most westerly limit of the main river at the time of the avulsion."

"(c) The Mississippi land survey of 1835 shows that an island existed at that time near to the Mississippi shore or meander line; evidence on the ground today shows conclusively that this portion of the area is much older than is that part which lies farther to the west. The conformation of the old bank lines is such that accretion to the Mississippi shore in this vicinity is a logical sequence."

"We have therefore decided that this line, after leaving the northeast end of 'Horseshoe Lake,' should gradually swing over towards the northwest, and follow the general line of the 'slough,' but in front, or east, of the same, a distance which is approximately equal to that which is ordinarily found between the main bank and the line of deepest water in the Mississippi River."

"After reaching a point which is opposite the upper end of this 'slough,' we must, in order to reach the present river, cross over, for a distance of approximately a mile, land that has evidently been formed by the process of

Page 256 U. S. 32

accretion since the time of the avulsion, and hence the boundary line should be brought east, as soon as is practicable, to a point about midway between the old original meander lines and thence along this mid-line to the Mississippi River."

"Commencing at a point in said Mississippi River, approximate latitude 34

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