You see, if it were not for the trains and railroads, there wouldn’t have been a Corinth in the first place. The original county seat of Tishomingo County (made up of three present-day counties – Prentiss, Alcorn, and Tishomingo) was Jacinto. When the Memphis and Charleston and Mobile and Ohio Railroads were built in the 1850’s with an intersection in our little community, the place became known as Cross City.
Story goes that a few months later, the editor of the local newspaper suggested the growing town’s name be changed to Corinth – after the crossroads town in Greece.
Considering all the benefits the trains brought to businesses in the area and the opportunities for transportation on the passenger trains, I can just imagine the delight our ancestors felt when they heard the train whistles as they entered Corinth. They surely thought progress was on the horizon.
It’s said that the Corinth Depot once served as many as 30 passenger trains in the 1930’s and 1940’s with the depot yard bustling day and night with baggage boys pushing luggage carts and weighing heavy trunks while peddlers sold fried chicken and hot tamales to hungry passengers. I can’t imagine a busier place as the flagmen (wig wags) watched for approaching trains and waved their lanterns at the crossings.
Today the same depot serves as our Crossroads Museum, and one of the most special visits I’ve had there with my grandkids was when a train whistle sounded and they rushed to the side window to get a close-up view of the powerful freight train passing by.
For almost 43 years, I have lived near probably the busiest railroad track that passes through Corinth. Thankfully we are in the county, but the whistle sound has never been a problem for us – our concern has always been to make sure pasture fences are good enough to prevent horses and cows from going to the track. …And if the kids had their beagles out for a hunt, they had to listen for trains in order to protect the dogs. (My son’s beagle did get ahead of him one time and barely survived. The train clipped the end of his tail and a couple toes off one foot - a tearful day, for sure, but the little dog lived to wear the scars from the train.)
For years our concern was the need for signal arms or “crossing gates” to more safely block the traffic and thus save lives. I remember when one of our community teenagers lost his life on the track on a county road near us where railroad signs were present but no cross arms existed.
Wenasoga Road had flashing lights and bells but sometimes they didn’t work properly. After the death of the young boy, we begged for more appropriate warnings of an approaching train. Finally, crossing gates were installed in the area, and we are so thankful for that. Let the whistles blast and the bells ding – people need to know a train is coming!
With all the emphasis Corinth tourism places on our town for being the “crossroads city” and the Civil War with its relation to the availability of trains, I would think we should want to accent the sounds of our town with the train whistles - as a celebration of what built our town in the first place. Sounds like life to me!
As a side note, several times my family has been relieved to hear the train whistle blast when the weather was stormy and hearing a loud rumble we feared a tornado was approaching. The loud whistle assured us it was only a train!