The city of Cairo lies on a "finger" of land at the southernmost tip of Illinois. Bridges south of the city connect Illinois to Wickliffe, Kentucky and Wilson City, Missouri.
Surrounding the city on all sides are sixty foot high levees. At the north end of town, where a railroad track runs atop the levee, a massive gate permits U.S. Highway 51 to pass through the levee and into the city. In times of high water, this gate can be closed, isolating Cairo from the flooded farmland surrounding it.1
It is because Cairo is at such a low elevation, so close to the river, that the city cemetery is not within the city itself, nor is any other graveyard.