Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc.

Pine Bluff Downtown Development

Old Man River… Friend and Foe


It is no secret that the Arkansas River was both a friend and foe to the early settlers of the region. The French settled on the north side until flooding conditions forced them to move upriver into what is now Pine Bluff. The mural is a composite of three early photos. On the left and right side, one can see the process of transporting cotton bales from Pine Bluff to New Orleans, which represents the positive side to living near a river. In the center, however, one witnesses the reminder that floods overwhelmed Jefferson County. The center photo was recorded in 1908 and shows the banks of the Arkansas River crumbling, threatening the town. In December 1908, the upstream levee was hit with two dynamites that alleviated the danger of the Arkansas River to Pine Bluff.​