Cairo is a town of subtraction. I still take visitors there, but there is less and less to show them. It’s gotten so I hardly pull the camera out because there’s nothing but open ground where a vibrant downtown once flourished.
Here’s a view through a floodgate opening at 8th Street in some time around 1967. You can click on the photos to make them larger.
Looks pretty much the same in 2010
2012 fire erases old buildings
A fire started in an adjacent building and quickly spread to these two old warehouse buildings. This was taken November 13, 2012.
Nothing left but pile of bricks
Not even the bricks remain
By July 10, 2013, you would never know the buildings existed.
A line has been added to show the 2011 record 61.7-foot highwater mark on the floodwall. There is a common misconception that the Bird’s Point Levee was blown just to save Cairo. In fact, it reduced pressure on the levees and floodwalls in Brookport, IL, Paducah, KY, Cairo, IL, Hickman KY and Tiptonville, TN. Some have speculated that Olive Branch might not have flooded if the levee had been breached earlier.
The reason Cairo got so much attention was that the Cairo river gauge was the one used to judge when it was time to activate the floodway that had been in place since 1937.
Older Cairo stories
I’ve photographed Cairo since the 1960s. Here are some older stories and photos.
- Barry Goldwater campaigning at the high school
- An overview of Cairo
- The Delta Queen visits Cairo
- The City of Cairo, Illinois, caboose
- 43 years of Cairo photographs
- Video crew visits Cairo
Speaking of disappearing
- The gas and motel bills are starting to filter in from my trip and my bank balance is starting to disappear. This is a good time to make a couple of pitches: if you are going to do your Christmas shopping on Amazon anyway, click on that big Click Here button (or the one that’s at the top left of every page). It will take you directly to Amazon just like always, but it will contain a code that will give me about 6% of whatever you purchase without adding a penny to your bill. It’s a painless way to say “Thanks” for the stories and photos I send your way almost every day. Here’s more info that Kid Matt provided a few weeks ago.
- Don’t forget that 2013-2014 Snapshots of Cape Girardeau calendars are still available. The calendars, when filled in with family special dates, make great gifts that will be appreciated all year long. (And, if you write your birthday down, maybe you’ll get a gift from someone that will be worth more than what the calendar cost.)