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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Southaven in Desoto County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Peavine Branch

 
 
The Peavine Branch Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler
1. The Peavine Branch Marker
Inscription. The "Peavine" branch of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad met the Memphis to Vicksburg mainline at this site. From the late 1890s through the 1930s, the "Peavine" provided reliable transportation for bluesmen among the plantations of the Mississippi Delta. Charley Patton made the branch famous through his popular "Pea Vine Blues."

Prior to the late 1800s, most of the Mississippi Delta region was covered by swamps, thick forests, and canebrakes. Early plantations were established in areas less prone to flooding, and lumber companies used the Delta’s waterways to transport their products to the Mississippi River and on to distant destinations. However, these efforts were complicated by flooding, seasonal shifts in water levels, and the need for expensive dredging.

A solution came in the form of railways, which were first introduced in the 1870s and criss-crossed the Delta by the early 1890s.The railway system allowed cotton production to flourish, with many plantations served by small lines. One of these was the Kimball Lake Branch, known locally as the "Peavine Branch," which bluesman Charley Patton saluted in his 1929 Paramount Records recording, "Pea Vine Blues." The Peavine, originally two narrow-gauge lines run by local entrepreneurs–including a lumber company in Boyle–was taken over in the late
The Peavine Branch Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler
2. The Peavine Branch Marker
1890s by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Company (called the Y&MV).

The line ran from Dockery Plantation, where Patton lived, and then ten miles west to Boyle, where it connected with the "Yellow Dog" (the local slang name for the Y&MV line), which led to Cleveland and points beyond. The term "peavine" was commonly used for railways that followed indirect routes, resembling the vines of the pea plant. Wisconsin-based Paramount Records’ advertising department used a drawing of an actual pea plant to promote Patton's record.

"Pea Vine Blues" is one of many blues songs about railways–a popular metaphor for escape as well as the primary means by which African Americans left the South during the Great Migration. The song’s meaning was clear to Delta residents, but obscure to others. Patton's song inspired other recordings on the "peavine" theme by artists including John Lee Hooker, Big Joe Williams, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Charlie Musselwhite, and Rory Block, among others. The leading Japanese blues record company named itself P-Vine Special in 1975 and reissued all of Patton's recordings on CD in 1992.
 
Erected by The Mississippi Blues Commission.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 34° 56.207′ N, 89° 59.488′ W. Marker is in Southaven, Mississippi, in Desoto County. Marker can be reached from Airways Blvd. Touch for map. Located within the Tanger Outlet. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5205 Airways Blvd, Southaven MS 38671, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Dockery Farms (here, next to this marker); Hubert Sumlin (within shouting distance of this marker); Charley Patton (within shouting distance of this marker); Living Blues (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Club Ebony (about 300 feet away); Po' Monkey's (about 400 feet away); Albert King (about 400 feet away); Graceland (approx. 7.8 miles away in Tennessee). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southaven.
 
Additional comments.
1. This is a copy of the rear side only of the original marker.
The actual, free-standing, "The Peavine" Mississippi Blues marker, with the same rear side text and photos (and front side) is located more than 100 miles SSW (of this shopping center mock-up version) at the intersection of Grove Street and T.M. Jones Highway (MS-446) in the town of Boyle, Mississippi. The Tanger Outlet stores have setup "a stroll along the "Mississippi Blues Trail throughout the center."
    — Submitted June 26, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, Music
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 2, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 24, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 70 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 24, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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