The City of Clarksdale

City size, location and population

Clarksdale was founded by John Clark in 1848 and presently encompasses fourteen and eighteen hundred (14.18) square miles and is located in northwest Mississippi approximately seventy-five (75) miles south of Memphis, Tennessee and one hundred fifty (150) miles northwest of Jackson, Mississippi.  It is one of two major trade centers in the State’s northern Delta and the major city and county seat of Coahoma County (the “County”), whose western boundary is the Mississippi River. Located at the head of the Sunflower River’s navigable waters, it is one of the largest cities in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and serves as the area’s commercial and industrial center.

City, County, and State population figures have been recorded as follows:

City:  16,539
County:  49,361
State:  2,178,914

City:  21,105
County:  46,212
State:  2,178,141

City:  21,673
County:  40,447
State:  2,216,994

City:  21,137
County:  36,918
State:  2,520,638

City:  19,717
County:  31,665
State:  2,573,216

City:  20,645
County:  30,622
State:  2,844,658

City:  17,962
County:  26,151
State:  2,867,297

2016 (most current)
City:  16,272
County:  23,809
State:  2,988,726

SOURCE: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

Incorporation & Government

The City was incorporated in 1882 and adopted a Commission form of government in 1910. Since 1968, it has had a full time Mayor and four (4) part time Commissioners. In 1985, four (4) wards were established for election of the Commissioners who vote on all matters before the Board. The Mayor votes only in case of a tie vote. Current members of the Board are:

Mayor:  Chuck Espy  (from 2017 to present)
City Commissioner Ward 1:  Bo Plunk  (from 2009 to present)
City Commissioner Ward 2:  Ken Murphey  (from 2013 to present)
City Commissioner Ward 3:  Willie Turner, Jr.   (from 2017 to present)
City Commissioner Ward 4:  Edward Seals (from 1989 to present)


Airports  The City’s general purpose airport, Clarksdale-Coahoma County Airport, formerly known as Fletcher Field, is located seven (7) miles north of the City and features a lighted runway with a length of 5,100 feet. It offers charter service, maintenance, fuel and hangars to store airplanes. Memphis International Airport is seventy-five (75) miles north.

Highways North-South United States Highway 61 connects Clarksdale with Memphis, Tennessee to the north, Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the south, and other major cities and ports along the Mississippi River. United States Highway 49 leads south through the center of the Mississippi Delta to the State’s capital, Jackson, and on to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Interstate Highway 55 is thirty-seven (37) miles east of Clarksdale by way of Mississippi Highway 6.

Railroads Mississippi Delta Railroad operates in Clarksdale and with the Canadian National  Railroad’s major system, south of the City.

Ports Four (4) major slack-water ports are easily accessible from the City and are within a one hundred (100) mile radius: Memphis, Helena, Greenville, and Rosedale. All four (4) operate barge, warehouse and harbor facilities and maintain a minimum nine (9) foot channel depth. Greenville and Memphis are United States Customs Ports of Entry. Also, a privately owned port at Friars Point, eighteen (18) miles north of the City, offers tug, fleeting, crane and off-loading services.

Educational Facilities

Higher Education Publicly supported Coahoma Community College, four (4) miles north of the City, has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 and offers two (2) year coeducational technical and vocational programs. Coahoma Community College offers workforce development training at the Skill Tech Center in Clarksdale. Delta State University is located in Cleveland, Mississippi, thirty-seven (37) miles south of Clarksdale, and has an enrollment of approximately 6,000. A limited number of courses are offered by Delta State University and Coahoma Community College at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center located in Clarksdale.

Public Schools The City’s Municipal Separate School District (the “District”) provides elementary and secondary education for a majority of the City’s children. The District offers Magnet Schools on the elementary level.

Private Schools St. Elizabeth Catholic School and Presbyterian Day School educate children in grades K-6 and Lee Academy offers educational opportunities for students in grades 7 through 12.

Municipal Services

Utilities:  The City-owned electric, water, and sewer utilities are regulated by a five (5) member Clarksdale Public Utility Commission appointed by the Board to staggered five (5) year terms.  The City supplies most electricity within the City limits, except for certain areas served by Entergy and Coahoma Electric, and to portions of Lyon, Mississippi.  The City-owned water system supplies water from nine (9) deep wells, capable of producing thirteen (13) million gallons daily, to all of the City plus a one (1) mile fringe area along most boundaries.  Four (4) overhead 250,000 gallons water storage tank give a combined storage capacity of one (1) million gallons.  Atmos supplies natural gas to the City.

Police & Fire:  The City operates a full-time Municipal Fire Department, rated as one of a few Class 5 departments in the State, with three (3) stations. The City’s Police Department currently employs forty-two (42) full-time policemen.