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In Search of the Bubblelanders
by Margaret Minnick

The mighty Mississippi is an extraordinarily long and meandering river. It seems to mock its role as one of America’s principal waterways by turning north and south, east and west repeatedly in its course. But in no location is the bizarre nature of this river more explicitly illustrated than at the New Madrid Bend.

The New Madrid Bend is an almost 360º turn in the Mississippi approximately 150 miles south of St. Louis. Unfortunately, it is located at precisely the right latitude to cause a strange border situation between Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

As you may already know, the southern border of Kentucky is a straight line. The New Madrid Bend causes the Mississippi to dip south of this line, then back up north of it, and then once again down south of it. (see map)

While the Mississippi determines the western border of both Tennessee and Kentucky and the eastern border of Missouri, it apparently has no powers to create a northern or southern border. This is understandable, since the river flows essentially from north to south, though in a remarkably roundabout way.

As you can see on the map, an odd sort of solution to this border conundrum has been devised. As a result, however, the land within the New Madrid Bend is a disconnected portion of Kentucky. This odd place, lovingly referred to as Bubbleland by the staff of Motel, is only accessible by land from the rest of Kentucky by traveling through Tennessee.

On a fact-finding mission to New Madrid, Motel found few answers to this puzzling situation. From the New Madrid side of the river, it appears Bubbleland is devoid of settlements, though one cannot be certain. Kentucky maps show one insignificant road leading to Bubbleland from Tiptonville, Tennessee, but no towns.

The historical plaques in New Madrid make no mention of Bubbleland’s peculiar situation. Alas, no knowledgeable old-timer was hanging about to tell us the tale.

Motel speculates that the massive earthquake which rocked New Madrid in the early 1800s may have changed the course of the river and created Bubbleland. But, still, a lack of solid, accessible information keeps Bubbleland shrouded in mystery.

 

Map of Bubbleland and surrounding area.

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