Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Guntown Train Derailment

-click to enlarge-

Photo clipping from John Cunningham

Can anyone recall the year of the famous train derailment that blocked a couple of roads near Guntown? It spilled some very delicious (even when warm) Schlitz and some tasty licorice and there weren't very many people that didn't get
a chance to try some of either or both.

Remember that the counties of Lee and Prentiss were "dry" at that time. However, law enforcement kinda looked away while some of the beer was gathered up at the wreck site. I am sure all of them got their allocation of it, also.

The trucks carrying what was salvaged in cases that were intact came to the Baldwyn depot for reloading onto boxcars and were attacked and relieved of some of their cargo even while in motion. The trucks came from the wreck site up Cemetery Road.

There also was a "grab and run" mob at the boxcars during the loading that late evening, and a few brave guys grabbed the last of the cases and got away, but with a kick in the face from the armed railroad detectives. They later admitted it was worth it. It was hilarious watching them from a safe distance.

What are your recollections of that great event? I will guess that it was Summer 1953 or 1954, or maybe even earlier. I wish Henry would post his writing "Ode to the train wreck" here. How about it , Henry - some of the group may never have read it!



  2. Bill, that was an actual event, so help me. It definitely was not made up! I have tried to describe it as accurately as I can, but that was over fifty years ago.
    I still remember vividly how awfully bitter that Schlitz tasted (my first time to try any) and I thought, how can anyone get that fired up over this? I thought the dark licorice that was spilled was much better.
    Thanks for your comments!

  3. How did the beer survive the wreck? I think that cans back then were thicker and more sturdier than the aluminum ones now.

    Did nayone get caught for stealing and put away?

  4. Jerry @ 11:51 AM said:

    Did nayone get caught for stealing and put away?

    I'll bet that some did, Jerry. The whole ordeal lasted around a week or so, and the two-cell Mayberry-like little jail was usually always busy from Friday to Sunday mostly with drinkers, fighters and gamblers. The cells were integrated then, one each for the two races of wrong-doers. It would get pretty noisy inside the cells with bantering back and forth. We liked to listen outside and roll around with laughter. Learned some bad words, too!

  5. Dr. Henry Outlaw's "Ode to the Train Wreck"

    "Train Wreck in Autumn"

    (Carrying Beer in a Dry County)

    Rails and boxcars screaming in twilight’s darkness,

    Sparks flashing to Orion in the eastern sky,

    Crossties erupting, unzipped from the roadbed, crashing

    Amidst culverts, against railroad crossings, and Mississippi Law stop signs.

    Refrigerated Sante Fe cars turned upside down

    Blocking the road to Guntown.

    Dry ice effervescent in the night sublimes;

    Keeping cool that golden amber of autumn ferment,

    That vapor scent(some cans steel punctured) Piercing the night air;

    Alien in a dry county stamped Georgia tax paid.

    To that place each came in the night: Negroes, whites,

    A mayor and officers of the law without uniform,

    And city fathers, grocers, and Sunday school teachers,

    Laymen and a paraplegic jeweler carried by friends,

    To share an act of grace intended for taverns in Memphis.

    Henry E. Outlaw

  6. I can think back to this incident a little. It was in the early fall when cotton was not quite ready for pickin', but don't remember the exact year, thanks for the memory.

  7. I well remember visiting the site and witnissing the beer being loaded into private vehicles, but don't remember anyone being stopped by LEO's.
    I also remember one early '50's Ford(light blue, I think)....with V8, dual exhausts and fender skirts leaving the scene with the rear bumper almost dragging the ground !I'm sure BW Houston could tell that story better than me !


  8. I don't know how old I was but I do remember daddy and I going down there. Very vague but the odor and activity around I do remember. Thanks for the memories.