The address is 3326 US 49, Florence, MS 39073. We weren’t looking for the address nor were we looking for a catfish dinner. It was too early for lunch anyway. When you travel northbound on US 49 it’s likely you’ll see this and some other interesting spots for whatever it is people do south of Jackson, Mississippi. There are some great treasures along the way.
When an unusual formation is seen along a route created to gather people for the purpose of consumption of good southern down home meals, I’ll stop to gather information and if time allows, an order of their “special”.
As you can see in the picture, Jerry’s was closed. It was an hour or two before noon. We pulled up to the front door curious to know if was not closed down and left to weather aware. It wasn’t. After a little bit of online research I learned Jerry’s has been around 10 years or more. I found some reviews from 2009. And after a bit of good reading, I wish my passenger and I would have spent some time in Florence shopping at garden centers and then tracing back down the 49 to the corner of Eagle Post Road once it opened. You can’t miss it. It looks like an igloo.
Oh, there is some good reading on the outside of the front door: The Ten Commandments. God is love.
Following a weekend, or maybe it was a midweek adventure, CJ and I took the northern route home heading through Oklahoma in search of rural attractions. Oklahoma is full of them. I don’t know if you would find Bessie to be your vacation destination but it sure is a sweet little town to pass through. Unfortunately our time was limited as you can see in the picture below. The sun had already kissed the day goodbye and hours yearned for passing as we made our way home. I have no clue why we stopped here because Bessie sits about a half mile off the main route, US Hwy 183. Grain elevators tower over. I don’t even recall stopping here for a bathroom break.
This picture was taken October 2015. Most of my updates on this blog have one thing in common, railroad. Many of these little towns in rural areas were brought up along the rail. So was Bessie. With somewhere between 150-200 people, agriculture is the principal resource of the community.
In the image below, there is a wall to the right of the building: Bessie School, 1916. Was this the original school building? I’m having difficulty finding information about the building. Perhaps you know. Tell us in the comments below.
Paging back through pictures I took over the last decade, I often return to those I took when traveling to Illinois on the back roads of back roads. Roads with names and towns with a stirring history. I’ve written about Picher before in this blog sometime ago. I’m not sure when but it’s far back in this old blog.
This image below of the Picher Mining Museum was shot July 26, 2011. I was headed from Texas to Illinois and wanted to go to Baxter Springs, KS to shoot some Route 66 landmarks. There are easier and quicker ways to get to Galena, but I hadn’t been on this road before, this road that passes through Picher. In fact, I randomly exited the Will Rogers Turnpike at Miami. Maybe it was lunch time. I don’t remember. I did have a baby in my car and I expect it was necessary to get out and stretch, make necessary changes. As I drove north, the landscape was pretty much the same but suddenly changed when I found mounds of what appeared to be sand. I had no idea what was ahead at the time. And there empty and abandoned structures sat along the road.
I slowed and took a few shots of outside. No one was around and I parked in middle of road, got out took some snaps and was overcome by a feeling of vacancy. After driving around what I discovered was an ghost town, I found the Picher Mining Museum.
In previous post, I didn’t do much research on the museum. It was simply a picture and drive-by documentation. However, much time has passed and being curious, I did some googling. Back in 2007 The Joplin Globe published and article,
“Buyout closing Picher’s museum; Baxter Springs new home for history of mining field.”
Relieved that the collection was moved to Pittsburg State University and Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum, I was saddened to learn that in April of 2015 and arsonist destroyed the former Picher Museum.
I don’t make trips as before to Illinois or through any part of this country so I can’t say I’ll be driving again through Baxter Springs, Galena, or Joplin. Now that Covid is better controlled I may make another trip to Illinois and take the scenic route once again to see what’s left. But I did go back through there a few years later and bull dozers were leveling much of what was left.
If you are from Picher area, or have any stories of the area, please share in the comments below.
The 205 south of Jal is also known as Frying Pan Road. Who comes up with such names for desolate highways out in the middle of nowhere? I never knew Bennett existed and the only reason for my visit was to find a geocache. Lea County and I have a long past and I’ve spent far more time in that county both physically and in the pages of books than you may know. But I never knew of this place because, well, there’s nothing there but a geocache and some weeds, concrete, and pump jacks. Oh, and the smell of rotten eggs. Did I mention that this is southeastern New Mexico? This is Lea County, home of the single most important oil discovery in the history of the state of New Mexico. And Bennet is a ghost town.
According to the information in this geneological website, There was an oil boom during the 1930’s and the star player in the world of oil production was El Paso Natural Gas. Bennett (Bennettville) showed up on the map in the late 30’s to 1957. As with all towns, there must be a post office. The life of this post office started in 1940 and ended in 1957 due to falling population. Bennett’s post office opened in April of 1940 with Callie Marshall as postmaster. The post office was closed in March 1957 when the population dropped below 100 people, of those, the mail employer was still El Paso Natural Gas. More information found shows there were four post masters of the post office of this little oil town. There is is not much information found on this town so I’ll have to return to Jal or Eunice on my next trek to NM and explore the library, interview the oil people with histories. And there are a lot of them.
There’s nothing real “wow” about this image because I had nothing in the foreground, such as a cabin, tent, or anything of interest. I was looking for the north star in that massive star filled sky. I acquired the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer and it had not been out of the box but 48 hours so I had yet to learn to set it up. It’s not difficult and I have the needed apps. But when new at something, it takes some learning. For the fun of it, I set up my other tripod and grabbed some shots just to see what I’d get out there. The first is is a six second shot facing north at Big Bend National Park. The second is a Milky Way image shot as is (on tripod) with Star Watcher set up yet. I shot these at “Dugout Wells”. There was no one out there. A windmill behind me squeaked in the breeze. I did shoot more Milky Way photos, those in a private gallery. But a couple images here as test shots.
Much of this blog is a collection of pictures I have taken across the rural Southwest. In addition, fragments of my quirky life are written with photos and stories of my cats, my kid, my horse, my thoughts, and plenty of lists.
I welcome your comments, ideas, suggestions, and admission of guilt. Thanks for stopping by.