Focused on Mississippi: Where the Southern Cross the Dog

Focused on Mississippi

MOORHEAD, Miss. (WJTV) – One stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail is in the middle of the Delta at the intersection of two railroads.

“Soldiers were in Germany years ago. And one way to find out whether they had any home boys there, people from the South, they would ask, ‘Does anybody know where the Southern crossed the Yellow Dog?'” explained Moorhead Mayor George Holland.

Why is this location important? The gist of it is, Memphis bandleader and the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy, got his introduction to Blues in 1903 while he was waiting on a train up the track in Tutwiler. He was fascinated by an old man singing and playing a guitar on the depot’s loading dock.

“And he was picking a tune and singing a song, ‘I’m going were the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog.’ And W. C Handy took that and he made the Yellow Dog Rag,” said Holland.

Quick explanation, the “Southern” was the east-west rail line that crossed the “Yazoo-Delta” rail line at Moorhead. Yazoo-Delta picked up the name “Yellow Dog” because its rolling stock was painted yellow with the railroad’s trademark “YD” on the side. And folks like Jimmie Rodgers from Meridian and Elvis Presley from Tupelo made blues the foundation for country music and rock-and-roll, hence, the reason for our Blues Trail to show where America’s music came from. So, has being on the Blues Trail helped Moorhead? 

“Believe it or not we have so many visitors from all across the world, the globe that actually come through Moorhead following the Blues Trail. We’re able now to give ‘em a little history lesson and maybe even leave with a T-shirt,” said the mayor.

The Blues Trail is a giant leap for Mississippi, educating the world about our music. And this particular spot tells where Blues first caught a ride up out of the Delta when W.C. Handy wrote about the Southern and the Yellow Dog. 

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