Mud Island is not actually an island but a small peninsula, surrounded by the Mississippi River to the west and the Wolf River Harbor to the east. In 1960, the Wolf River was diverted so that it went north of Mud Island, and Mud Island opened to the public in 1982. It is located within the Memphis city limits, 1.2 miles from the coast of downtown, and houses a museum, restaurants, and an amphitheater. It is accessible by monorail, by foot (via a bridge located on top of the monorail), by ferry, or automobile.
Mississippi River Park and Museum
Mississippi River Park
The Mississippi River park located on Mud Island includes bike trails, pedal boats, and rafts, as well as a hydraulic scale model of the lower Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans.
Major cities and small towns located on the river are marked in the scale model, and markers explain history and facts about the river.
The model empties into a "Gulf of Mexico" replica which was once a waterpark named Bud Boogie Beach. Admission to the park is free.
Mississippi River Museum
The museum on Mud Island presents the history of the lower Mississippi river valley, with great emphasis on the steamboat
, complete with a full-scale replica steamboat.
An admission fee is charged for the museum.
Mud Island is home to a 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheater which has been used for a summer concert series for over two decades. Many acts have played there over the years including: Stevie Ray Vaughan
, James Taylor
, Midnight Oil
, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
, Jimmy Buffett
, Jethro Tull
, Sex Pistols
, Billy Idol
, Better than Ezra
, Hootie and the Blowfish
, Cowboy Mouth
, Violent Femmes
, Kelly Clarkson
, and Britney Spears
. Fall Out Boy and Plain White T's will perform there in the future. The band Dash Rip Rock
, which has played there several times, recorded a song named Mud Island
that can be found on two of their albums.
James Taylor, performing in the amphitheater during a light rainstorm in 1992, stuck his arm out into the falling water and remarked, "Mud Island... ominous name, eh?"
The northern portion of Mud Island ("Harbor Town") features single-family homes and apartment complexes, and caters mostly to an affluent, younger crowd.
This section of the island includes the Mississippi River Trail, a grassy section of park land with running trails and benches overlooking the Mississippi River.
Wolf River Harbor was the lowermost channel of the Wolf River until 1960.
There are considerations under way for a complete renovation to enhance the appearance and use of the current Mud Island. The plan would include renovations to the pyramid that would encompass the entire area and make way for a Resort and Theme Park.
Developers and the city are considering a name change to Harbor Island, to rid the current name of negative conatations. Pyramid Resorts and Harbor Island would feature two unique areas that include an indoor theme park, headline entertainment, two unique hotels, distinctive shopping and educational opportunities that would include maritime and marine studies.
The project is said to broaden the economic scale of Memphis and the surrounding areas.
In 1959, the Memphis Downtown Airport was opened on Mud Island, which at that time was called City Island. The one-runway airport could be reached by a pontoon-boat ferry and was used mostly by businessmen and shoppers. The Downtown Airport was closed in 1970.