GM&O Little Rebel

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GM&O Little Rebel

Postby RipleyMS » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:22 pm

I lived in Ripley, MS in the late 1940's and rode on the Little Rebel from Jackson, TN to Ripley a couple of times. Sometime in the spring of 1948 my Grandfather came by my school and picked me up, he said that the Little Rebel had wrecked South of Ripley and we were going to see it. When we arrived at the wreck there were a number of automobiles parked on the side of the road (Hwy 15), it was only a short distance from the road to the track. The Little Rebel and the freight engine were both still on the track, there was hardly any damage to the freight engine but the front of the Little Rebel was badly crumpled. The story we were told was that the Little Rebel was running late, as usual, and had come around a curve heading South and the freight engine was heading north. The engineer in the freight set the bakes and jumped out of the engine, the engineer of the Little Rebel did the same thing. At the time of impact the freight engine was stopped but the Little Rebel was still rolling. The only injury was to a crewman who was in the engine toilet and he was killed. In 1949 we moved to Jackson, TN and the Little Rebel was in the GM&O rail yard there. It had been towed up there and parked. It sat there for several years and finally disappeared. The Little Rebel was replaced by a bus and that was the end of an era. For most of the time I lived in Ripley the GM&O was still using steam engines to pull their freight trains, I enjoyed watching them come through Ripley. There was a grade from north of Blue Mountain to north of Ripley so the engines were pulling hard, some times there would be an engine pulling and an engine pushing. Love those steam engines.
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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby Desertdweller » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:50 pm

I used to run trains on that line when I worked for the Mississippi and Tennessee RailNet. That is a pretty good grade, especially in the town of Ripley itself.

I understand the railroad is now abandoned north of Ripley, and south of New Albany. When I worked there (1998 to 2003), the line ran from Houston, MS to Middleton, TN.

The railroad was actually the result of a merger of two 3-foot gauge lines. On the south end of New Albany, you can see the roadbed where the narrow gauge ran through a swamp. I think most of the rest of the line was simply re-gauged to standard gauge.

Houston was at one time an interchange point between the Gulf, Mobile and Northern and the Mobile and Ohio. They merged in 1940. The M&O station was still standing in Houston last time I was there. It is now an antique shop.

Les
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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby CarterB » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:00 am

Some "dead line" photos of the Rebels in Jackson, TN

http://www.westernrailimages.com/Gulf-M ... 07&k=2TsvB
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby Desertdweller » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:06 pm

There was a more widely-known head-on collision between a full-size Rebel and a freight just north of New Albany, between the Tallahatchie River bridge and the curve by "The Frenchman's Grave".

"The Frenchman" was a convict working on construction of The Ripley Railroad. The railroad used convict labor.

"The Frenchman" attempted to escape the work party by running to the woods on the opposite side of what is now Highway 15. He didn't make it. His escape was cut short by a shotgun blast.

He was buried on the spot. The grave is marked by a cross and is fenced.

When I worked for the M&T, there was a plan to widen Highway 15. I was very concern the grave would be destroyed. I talked to a Highway Department official and was assured that the grave would not be disturbed, that it was very difficult to violate a grave in Mississippi.

Les
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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby RipleyMS » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:08 pm

Interesting story about the Frenchman. For many years there was what we called the "Hobo's Grave" near Cotton Plant, it had a picket fence and was maintained by the railroad, it then disappeared. Recently it has reappeared further South with a new picket fence. They are four-laning Hwy 15 but it is on the east side of the present Hwy 15. The wreck you are talking about must have been a long time ago because I don't remember any wreck except the one I went to see. Thanks for the information. Railroads in MS are slowly dying out, I just found out that the Mississippi and Skuna Valley Railroad from Bruce to Bruce Junction was sold for scrap, it will be turned into a walking trail.
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Frenchman's grave

Postby CarterB » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:33 pm

Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby Desertdweller » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:32 pm

I don't recall the "Hobo's Grave", but the link Carter provided is indeed the "Frenchman's Grave". Maybe the next time I get there I'll look for it.

That part of Mississippi is very rich in history.

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Re: GM&O Little Rebel

Postby RipleyMS » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:35 am

Interesting story about the Frenchman, I hadn't heard of it. I know Tommy Covington, he is at the Ripley Public Library. The second picture, the one with the tree in the background is the grave I remember. The story about the "Hobo's Grave" was that he fell from a train maybe in the 1920's and was killed, having no identification he was buried where he fell. The grave and picket fence were maintained by the railroad for as long as I can remember, then maybe 20 years ago it disappeared, probably during one of the changes of ownership. We may be talking about the same grave but I remember it being closer to Cotton Plant.
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