Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - west Mississippi

We will continue on our trip in Mississippi along what is left of the Dixie Overland Highway, now US 80.

The present US 80 crosses the Pearl River south of downtown Jackson and runs north of Interstate 20. West Jackson was a bustling commercial zone in the post-World War II decades. Preservation Mississippi as written about some of the motels and other architecture along this strip. Today, it is a bit (well, very) dingy. The scenery is marred with fast food restaurants, old warehouses, and strip malls that clearly saw better years a long time ago. I recently wrote about the old Metrocenter Mall, which is only partly occupied now (click the link).
KCS tracks view east, Old US 80 near Clinton, Mississippi (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
Post Drive, Old US 80 (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film). The fence has been extended and now obscures all of the yard
US 80 runs through Clinton just north of I-20 (near Mississippi College) and then merges with the interstate.  I assume the old route was absorbed by the interstate. But the frontage road south of I-20 west of the Norrell Road exit may be the old Dixie Highway. It winds through woods and past old houses and past farmland.
Old Hwy 80 east of Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
East of Bolton, it is hard to tell how much of Old Hwy 80 is the Dixie Overland and how much is modern frontage road.
Main Street, Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, Tmax 100 film)
Mack's Cafe, Old US 80, Bolton (Kodachrome 25, Leica, 50mm lens)
The first "main" town we reach is Bolton. We have explored Bolton before (click the link). There is not much to see there now.

Former Dodge dealer (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Yashica Electro 35CC camera, Ilford Delta 100 film)
National Youth Administration gymnasium (formerly for Edwards High School, Edwards, Mississippi
Edwards is the next town on our trip west. Edwards, too, has seen much better and more prosperous days a long time ago. I previously wrote about Edwards in the rain.

Woodman of America hall (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Kodachrome slide, Leica M3, 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lens)
A former coworker tried to preserve the Woodman of America building, but the last time I drove through town, all that was left was a concrete slab. 
Shotgun house, 304 Old Hwy 80, Bolton (Olympus E-330 digital camera) 


Former filling station, US 80, west of Edwards (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
A few older shotgun houses remain in Edwards.
Old US 80 west of Edwards, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
Smith Hall, Bonner Campbell Institute, Edwards (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm lens)
Heading west, you pass the grounds of the Bonner Campbell Institute, formerly the Southern Christian Institute. Sadly, most of the historic buildings have been demolished, despite their status on the National Register of Historic Places. I thought the pillared Smith Hall was quite elegant.
Big Black River crossing, Old US 80 (Hasselblad, 50 mm Distagon lens, Fomapan 100 Classic film)
Bridge commemoration (Olympus E-330 digital image)
Proceeding west, old US 80 descends and crosses the Big Black River over the 1929 R.H. Henry Bridge.
US 80 near Bovina, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
The Dixie continues west bypassing most of the town of Bovina. The road is narrow and would be dangerous to bicycle because of a lack of shoulders and the fact that some people drive much too quickly.
Former "Colored Motel" east of Vicksburg (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)
Lobby of former "Colored Motel" (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)


As the Dixie Overland approached Vicksburg, motels welcomed the weary traveler. One pink and now very overgrown motel just east of Mt. Albans Road formerly had a sign, "Colored Motel." I may have a picture of it somewhere but have not found it yet. It has been unused since the 1980s or earlier. Currently, the building is being engulfed by kudzu.
Pinewood Motel, US 80, Vicksburg, closed since the 1980s (4×5" Tri-X negative, Tachihara camera)
The old Pinewood Motor Lodge has also been closed since the 1980s. I suspect these businesses were unable to compete with newer hotels built near Interstate 20, which was constructed through Vicksburg in the early 1970s.
We finally reach Vicksburg. Here is an old Chamber of Commerce brochure, courtesy of Preservation Mississippi. US 80 crossed the Mississippi River on the old 80 bridge, now closed to road traffic and pedestrians but still leased by the Kansas City Southern railroad. Today, US 80 and I-20 use a new bridge, built in the 1970s. We will explore US 80 in Louisiana in a future article. I will not cover Vicksburg in this article. Just type "Vicksburg" in the search box and you can find plenty of articles about the city - color, black and white, summer, winter, snow, and even some digital.

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