I have had a river post in the back of my mind for a long time. It's funny now to say river things would be in the back of a Memphian's mind because there was a time when the river would have been the focal point of a day in Memphis. There are still visible reminders and a river vocabulary some of which is little known. So here we go:
A river gauge is the device used for measuring the river stage. This led me to look up "stage" which means the height of water flowing in a river above a nearby reference point, for example, the height of the water above the river bed. Then I ran across the term "bank full" and looked that up. Bank full stage means the stage at which a river will not overflow its river banks or cause any significant damage within the river reach. Bank Full Stage is determined by the National Weather Service. Some Memphis Mississippi river gauge photos:
This one is 37 feet from the river up the cobblestones to the wall, then -
...it continues up the wall to 47 feet BUT the river gauge continues from 48 feet to 50-something feet and is attached to one of the stone bridge columns at the foot of Beale at Riverside Drive. The record height was 48.7 feet in 1937. That's somewhere above Riverside Drive.
The board on the bluff at Pontotoc and the Riverwalk in Vance Park is called a bulletin board. This displays a number which is I believe is the current river stage and either the letter "R" or "F" which denotes whether the river is rising or falling. Who puts up the numbers and letters each day? The Army Corps of Engineers? Has anyone ever seen someone doing this? It's got to be like seeing a unicorn. I bet it happens at 4 am or some ungodly hour. I want that job anyway. It's like the Vanna White of the Mississippi River (or Van White as the case may be). Maybe I could be a guest bulletin board changer from time to time.
And then there are the deadmen on the cobblestones. These are the large metal rings you see embedded in the cobblestones that riverboats were moored to back in the day. They were called deadmen as they were sunk down six feet to ensure they could hold.
After the words walking surface, the words "and deadmen" should be added to the end of this notice. It would give visitors a much more compelling reason to stumble around down there.