Walt's Look Around: McComb Railroad Museum - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: McComb Railroad Museum

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
MCCOMB, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

This week we're going to a museum that tells the story of an adventure. The city of McComb was an invention of the railroad. The rail yard that it was built around has been gone for decades, but the story of it is housed in the McComb Railroad Museum.

There are several reasons McComb wound up being where it is and being named what it's named. ALL of those reasons center around the railroad. 

Colonel Henry McComb was a Union Civil War veteran from Delaware who bought the devastated Central Mississippi Railroad after the war and rebuilt it and expanded it into what would eventually become the Illinois Central Railroad. 

He needed a place to work on locomotives and train cars, but not wishing his employees to be exposed to the evils of New Orleans, built his extensive rail yard a hundred miles north at the place that overnight became the city of McComb, all centered around the rail yard and the repair of trains.

Well, like all things that come around, they eventually go around and the rail yard closed in the 1980s, fortunately leaving a prospering town in its wake, able to stand alone without the rail yard, but also a town deeply indebted to it. And a town that has compiled its memory and memorabilia of the rail yard days into the McComb Railroad Museum.

Winnie Len Howell started collecting the history of McComb back before there was even a rumor of the yard closing.

"Well I always loved history and I was afraid the history of McComb was going to be lost if we didn't start working on talking to the railroad men and trying to save it," said Howell.

The history of the railroad in McComb is FAMILY history for a lot of people in the area. Ralph Price's granddad and dad worked in the rail yard. 

He has a brother who is a conductor and a daughter who works for the railroad in the office in Jackson.

Every time I come in this depot I think about my family," said Price. "Think about all the friends that they had, the friends that I've developed over the years.

Bob Bellipanni sums up the situation very well as to McComb's dependence on Colonel McComb's railroad and rail yard for its existence.

"If it weren't for Colonel Henry Simpson McComb and his desire to have a north-south railroad from Chicago to New Orleans, we probably would be here, but we'd be called something else," said Bellipanni.

The museum is in the McComb depot downtown.

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