Casey Jones Railroad Trail
In the beginning . . . Casey Jones spent his boyhood days in the small town of Cayce, Kentucky. It is from this little town that the engineer received his famous nickname, Casey.

It was also in Cayce, that the young man fell in love with the railroad and began to dream of becoming en engineer. Cayce had only a small rail station, a telegraph office, and an old water tank situated beside on long stretch of railroad track on the outskirts of town. Stationed beneath the water tank, the boy would watch the trains as they stopped for water and ask eager questions of the crews. Though Casey has been long gone from his boyhood home, a monument to the engineer stands in Cayce today, recalling a young man enamored with a dream of the railroad.

The Ballad of Casey Jones

Casey Jones Railroad Trail Map

The Railroad Man...

Jackson, Tennessee is the home of Casey Jones.  Casey Jones came to Jackson with the M & O in 1881.  The city was the hub of West Tennessee and the place where the M & O crossed the Illinois Central Railroad, making it an important transfer point.  Casey met his wife, Janie Brady, at the boarding house in which he stayed and decided to make Jackson his permanent home.  He married Janie in Jackson in 1886 and bought a house located on Chester Street in which to raise a family.  Today, the house is a museum dedicated to the engineer and the railroad he loved.  The historic Home and Museum are located in Casey Jones Village in Jackson.  The engineer is also buried in Jackson.  His grave with it's memorial marker can be seen in Mount Calvary Cemetery.  A plaque honoring the engineer also hangs at the cemetery gates.  The true heart of the story of Casey Jones lies in Jackson, Tennessee where the memory of the brave engineer continues to persevere.

Joining the Railroad...

In 1878, Columbus, Kentucky served as the northern terminal of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  At the age of 15, Casey arrived in Columbus to join the M & O as a telegrapher.  Though not much grander than Cayce, Columbus was a wonder to the young railroader.  When not busy with his work, Casey spent his time in the train yards examining and admiring the powerful engines and he became ever more eager to find his way into the cab of one.  After becoming an accomplished telegrapher, Casey was given the opportunity to work as a brakeman on runs from Columbus and Jackson, Tennessee.

Riding the Rails...

In 1890, Casey became an engineer with the ICRR and began to make runs between Jackson, Tennessee and Water Valley, Mississippi.  Water Valley boasted an ICRR terminal and roundhouse.  Trains, both passenger and freight, often made stops in the little town on their way north and south.  From 1890 to 1899, Casey ran his engine into and out of the little town.  For a brief time, Casey and his family lived in Water Valley but later returned to their home in Jackson.  Today, Water Valley is home to a Casey Jones Museum.  The museum was founded in 1999 and houses the Casey Jones collection of Mr. Bruce Gurner, one of the world's foremost Casey Jones historians.

The Cannonball and the Last Ride...

In 1888, Casey left the M & O to join the Illinois Central in Jackson Tennessee. The ICRR ran through Memphis, Tennessee and the city was a prominent stop for trains running both north and south along the railroad. In January 1900, Casey was assigned to the "Cannonball Express" running from Memphis to Canton, Mississippi. The trains of the "Cannonball Express" were scheduled to run fast along the 188-mile route filled with dangerous stretches and curves. Many engineers avoided the run, concerned for their safety. It was from the Poplar Street station in Memphis, that Casey Jones, with his fireman Sim Webb, started for his last ride. Sim Webb made his home in Memphis and often rode as fireman with Casey. Sim survived the wreck which killed Casey and spent the remainder of his life sharing his account of what happened that famous night. Sim is buried in Memphis. 

Casey Jones Train Wreck

The Train Wreck...

Vaughan, Mississippi had a small station where trains would often pass each other on the tracks by sidelining. On the early morning of April 30, 1900, rushing down the tracks to make up lost time on a run of the "Cannonball Express," Casey Jones approached the station at Vaughan. In the damp and fog, three trains were arranging a saw-by to let the Cannonball pass when an airhose burst on one of the trains, leaving four cars on the mainline. Unaware, Casey continued forward when without warning the lights on the stranded caboose shone through the darkness. Casey ordered Sim to jump as he tried desperately to slow his train. At 3:52 a.m., the roar of the colliding trains echoed across the Mississippi countryside and Casey Jones became a legend. A marker identifies the site of the wreck at Vaughan. The town also houses a Casey Jones Museum, in operation since 1979, in an old depot.

WMTH CORPORATION PO BOX 51153 BOWLING GREEN, KY 42102 PHONE (270) 781-6858 FAX 781-2949