LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - There’s patriotism on display for passers-by in the middle of the Arkansas River. It’s a mystery that has drivers and boaters curious.
A phantom flag planter has placed 13 flags on a sandbar just below the I-430 bridge, visible from Two Rivers Park at the mouth of the Little Maumelle River.
“We come across the bridge yesterday and we saw all those flags on the sandbar,” said Jason Eaton as he carried his son for a walk in the park. “It was a little weird but I thought it was cool. What is it like a boat race or something going on?”
Jurisdiction over the perilous strip of land is unclear. The City of Little Rock deferred to the Pulaski County Sheriff if something were to happen there. The Army Corps of Engineers controls the marine traffic through various locks and dams.
They and the Coast Guard said sandbars can develop as the river rises and falls. This particular strip emerged over the summer. Soon after it emerged, recreational boaters gathered and an American flag appeared for several months. But in the last several days, long after most boaters drydocked for the season, 10 or more new flags popped up.
“I drive across the I-430 bridge to get to work and I've always seen them,” said Taylor Perkins who walks her dog, Killa, in the park two or three times a week.
“I just never knew how they got there or what they were supposed to represent,” Perkins said.
The person who planted them appears to love our military, with flags from the five military branches represented.
“It shouldn’t be a hazard since it came up outside the channel,” said Lt. Ryan Thomas, a waterways officer with the Coast Guard based in Memphis. “We would likely look at the flags as litter that could end up in the water.”
The owner will need to use caution if they want to collect them before water levels wash the bar away. The Corps of Engineers has a small craft advisory in effect on the river through the weekend.