Several hundred visitors from as far away as California, Virginia,
Texas, Wisconsin and Maryland came to Water Valley the weekend of April
29 and April 30 for the Casey Jones 100th anniversary observance. Dozens
of local volunteers from the Museum board, Water Valley Lions Club and
the Water Valley Ambassadors, greeted visitors and answered questions
about the city’s most famous former resident.
"You guys epitomize Southern hospitality," said Glenn Sarlitto, who,
with his wife Alice, came from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Many of the visitors brought articles from newspapers and magazines
which detailed the wreck story and featured Water Valley. Several people
were dressed as engineers and conductors and others were covered with
patches and pins collected during their travels.
Tom Savio, a writer from Pasadena, came with Lou Schuyler, an engineer
with the Napa Valley Railroad, who is celebrating 50 years as an
engineer. Like many, they had been to Jackson, Tennessee, and were on
their way to Vaughan, Mississippi.
During the day Saturday, visitors toured the museum and viewed the art
done by youngsters from the Water Valley Elementary School. On Saturday
evening “Generation Gap” provided musical entertainment which included
their version of the Casey Jones song.
The U. S. Postal Service set up a temporary station on Sunday, April 30,
to offer a special cancellation for the 100th anniversary. Postmaster
Norma Biggers said that about 180 railroad stamps and 120 postcards were
sold. The local post office has also received requests for the
cancellation from all over the country and as far away as Portugal and
The Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum is housed in the old
Illinois Central depot which was renovated by the Water Valley Lions
Club starting in 1985. Since that time, the Bruce Gurner collection has
been acquired by the Economic Development Foundation. These items are
displayed along with other railroad artifacts, photographs and documents
of historical interest. Many of these came from the families of former
IC employees and others with an interest in preserving Water Valley's
Along with the observance here, similar activities were held in Jackson,
Tennessee, Casey’s home for many years and at Vaughan, Mississippi, site
of the wreck.