MOORHEAD, MISS. — September 29, 2014 — A railway crossing that inspired a variety of blues songs will be the site of the newest marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The unveiling ceremony for the “Where the Southern Cross the Dog” marker will take place on Thursday, October 2, at 10 a.m. at Washington Street and West Delta Avenue in Moorhead.
W.C. Handy recalled that one of the early inspirations for becoming a blues composer took place in 1903 while he was waiting on a train in Tutwiler. At the station was a guitarist who used a knife for a slide and sang of “Goin’ where the Southern cross’ the Dog.” The line referred to a railway crossing in Moorhead, about forty miles to the South, where the east-west line of The Southern Railway in Mississippi intersected with the north-south line of the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad; it had recently incorporated the Yazoo-Delta Railway, which was known to locals as the “Yellow Dog.”
In 1914 Handy published the song “Yellow Dog Rag,” which as “Yellow Dog Blues” was later recorded by artists including Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. The phrase about where the “Southern cross’ the dog” also appeared in numerous other blues songs, including Big Bill Broonzy’s “Southern Blues” and Charley Patton’s “Green River Blues,” while bluesman Sam Collins recorded a different song called “Yellow Dog Blues.” The railway crossing and the “Yellow Dog” train became iconic images of the Mississippi, and appear in works including Eudora Welty’s “Delta Wedding.”
For more information about the Mississippi Blues Trail, visit www.msbluestrail.org, explore the state’s official tourism website at www.VisitMississippi.org, or contact Allison Washington, Visit Mississippi’s Music Trails program manager at 601.359.3297.