Sunday, October 30, 2016
Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum
Train accidents were fairly common in the 1900s. Most were soon forgotten but the wreck of Engine No. 382, which killed Engineer Casey Jones, will always be remembered thanks to a song written by Casey’s friend Wallace Saunders.
At 12:50 AM on April 30, 1900 Casey Jones was asked to fill in on the Memphis, Tennessee to Canton, Mississippi run for an engineer who had called in sick. The train was 75 minutes behind schedule but Casey was always ready to push the limits and took the challenge to get the train to Canton on time. By the time he reached Vaughan Mississippi, only 18 miles from Canton, he had made up most of the time. Unfortunately that was where disaster struck. Three trains had been diverted to sidings to let Casey pass but there wasn’t room for all of the cars and some were still on the mainline. Casey reversed the throttle and slammed on the airbrakes but couldn’t stop in time. Engine No. 382 plowed in the stopped train cars, killing Casey but sparing all of his passengers.
Investigations by the Illinois Central Railroad after the accident put the blame on Casey for failing to slow down for a flagman and flares that supposedly had been put on the tracks well in advance of the stopped train cars. Fireman Sim Webb, who was riding with Casey and jumped off the train before the wreck, reported that they did not see a flagman or flares in time to stop. Many people consider Casey Jones a hero for managing to slow the train down enough to save the passengers and other crew members.
The museum and house are part of a complex that includes a restaurant, gift shops, a country church, a Pullman railcar and several building that can be rented for gatherings. We visited the museum and house only. Both are accessible but some of the doors are heavy. The museum has a short video about Casey’s life and exhibits about the wreck and investigation plus a lot of railroad memorabilia. The house is furnished as it would have been when Casey and his family occupied it.
The parking lot is large enough for RVs. On-street parking is also available.
Museum 35.65985, -88.85549