Casey Jones to get Blues Trail marker in Water Valley

By The Associated Press

WATER VALLEY — A Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be dedicated on Friday in Water Valley to honor railroad engineer Casey Jones, who lived and worked there in the 1890s.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that on April 30, 1900, Jones died in a train accident in Vaughan and was later celebrated in song by artists such as bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt and Furry Lewis.

Jones worked out of Water Valley for the Illinois Central, which maintained a large shop and roundhouse there. In 1900 he became an engineer on the Cannonball, with a route that stretched from Chicago to New Orleans.

Soon after Jones’ death, Wallace Saunders, a railroad worker in Canton, wrote a ballad celebrating the saga. The song was published in 1909.

The story was later widely celebrated, including the establishment in 1997 of the Casey Jones Water Valley Railway Museum. The marker will be dedicated there at 4 p.m., and musicians Jimbo Mathus and Justin Showah will perform.

Mickey Howley, director of the Water Valley Main Street Association, sees the landmark as plus for locals and visitors.

“It will make people in town more aware of the cultural and social importance of the blues and the railroads here,” Howley said.