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Arkabutla Lake is a reservoir on the Coldwater River in the U.S. state of Mississippimarker.

Arkabutla Lake is one of four Flood Damage Reduction reservoirs in northern Mississippimarker. Located less than 30 minutes south of the Tennesseemarker state line, Arkabutla Lake is the only U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project (aside from Mississippi River maintenance) in the Memphis metropolitan area. With an annual visitation exceeding 2 million people, Arkabutla Lake accommodates a wide variety of recreational interest throughout the entire year.

The Arkabutla Lake project includes of land and water. The dam is long with an average height of . There are of land at the project which are open to the public for hunting.


After a series of disastrous floods during the mid-1800s and early 1900s, high priority was given to flood control projects. The worst flood in modern history of the Lower Mississippi Valley occurred in 1927. The Great Flood spawned a comprehensive program for flood control along the Mississippi River and its tributaries and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers became the planners, designers and builders of the flood control projects.

Engineers determined the headwaters of the Yazoo River contributed to or caused much of the flooding that occurred in Mississippi’s Delta region. In addition to the construction of levees along the Yazoo River, four flood control reservoirs were constructed in north Mississippi as part of the Yazoo Basin Headwater Project. Arkabutla Dam, the second of the dams to be built, was constructed on the Coldwater River.

The development of Arkabutla Dam even required the relocation of an entire town. In 1942, the U.S. Government moved the town of Coldwater and approximately 700 residents at a cost of $250,000 to its present location south of the original 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 underwater year round.

When completed, the Yazoo Headwater Project will protect of land against flooding and will partially protect another . Benefits of the Headwater Project are reduced flooding around the cities of Greenwood, Yazoo City, Belzoni, and other smaller communities within the Yazoo River Basin and increased agricultural and industrial productivity because more land is available for these purposes. As a result, the region’s national and international markets for produce have greatly increased and families have benefited from the growing job market.

Cultural references

In the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Everett McGill's treasure is buried at a cabin located in a valley that is flooded during the construction of Arkabutla Reservoir. A brief still shot of a newspaper telling of the impending creation of the Arkabutla Reservoir appears in the movie.


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