Flood control efforts in northeast Arkansas’s Sunken Lands yielded an engineering marvel: The Marked Tree Siphons.
Drainage District Number Seven in Poinsett County was formed in 1917 to help regulate flooding of the Saint Francis River. The Steep Gut Floodway, lock and sluiceway were completed in 1926, but seven years later forty feet of the sluiceway dropped and part of the levee collapsed when the fine sand at its base washed away.
Rather than try to rebuild, the Corps of Engineers chose a unique approach: They would carry the St. Francis River over the levee. They constructed three 228-foot-long, nine-foot-diameter, electronically welded steel tubes that would siphon the St. Francis River’s waters over the levee while maintaining the river’s natural channel.
Hundreds attended the June 7, 1939, dedication when a local newspaper marveled: “A whole river was lifted 30 feet across a dam and deposited on the other side.” The Marked Tree Siphons continue to serve eighty years later.
To learn more, visit EncyclopediaofArkansas.net.