By J. K. Gurner
The other day I was sitting at the museum all by myself, looking through the file concerning the organization of the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum. Would you believe it has been over 20 years sine the Yalobusha County Industrial Development Committee negotiated a deal to buy Bruce Gurner’s collection of railroad memorabilia to start the museum.
The Lions Club leased the old railroad depot from the city and completely renovated it for a place to meet and have other activities. The Lions not only provided room for the museum, but have helped with other expenses for the entire time we have been here.
In the beginning I offered to help get things going. I had just retired, and everybody agreed that I needed something to do to keep me out of trouble. I had a lot of help from others who built and arranged the displays, which is, after all, what makes the museum. Over the years we have received many compliments by people who know museums large and small, and there is no getting around the fact that we are small, but we do present a fairly comprehensive portrait of our local history.
I had this idea that maybe if I were to write a little something about the museum, it might create a little interest and someone would come to the museum and visit with me. We could talk about the first settlers that came to this valley and why on earth they would settle in creek bottom that flooded every time there was a big rain.
The first settlers kept to the high ground, as did the railroad when they laid their track through the valley. When activity on the railroad increased, the people moved to be close to the railroad and the town grew up in the lowest part of the valley. Following its natural path, the creek twisted and turned back and forth through the town three times. So, every few years the valley would flood and leave a muddy mess to be cleaned up. Being the determined people that we are, we would not move, come hell or high water.
If you want to hear the rest of the story, you can come to the museum and sit with me. You can come early or stay late, and maybe, when we are done, you will better understand why Water Valley is like it is. I’m there Thursday, Friday and Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m.
My email is gurnerjack@ bellsouth.net.
(Editor’s note: Out of the Depot will alternate with Charles Cooper’s Reflections column until one or the other of these old codgers runs out of something to write about.)