What does the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum, a Dentzel antique carousel, and graves of Gypsy royalty have in common?
All three are located in Meridian, Mississippi. This eclectic mix of sites are some of Meridian's more interesting locations dating back to the city's Golden Age.
Meridian Mississippi, only 20 miles from the Alabama border, was established at the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Vicksburg & Montgomery Railway lines in 1860. With rail transportation at the height of its popularity, the town boomed from 1890 to 1930. During its Golden Age, people flocked to Meridian, and it became Mississippi's largest city and a leading center for manufacturing in the South.
The Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum
Approximately 80% of the factory's furnishings and machinery are original to the site. The factory only received a couple of modernizations in its 110 years in operation. In the 1950s, Soulé replaced half of the belt-driven lathes with more modern ones. In the late 1970s, the company modernized the foundry, but left the original cupola furnace and core-making shop undisturbed.
The company's founder, George Wilberforce Soulé, patented over 40 inventions between 1885 and 1930. Most of his designs were incorporated into products for sawmills around the South, but he also had many steam engine technology innovations. The company sold the products they produced worldwide.
The Soulé Steam Feed Works was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and became a Mississippi Landmark in 2003.
The Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum is located at: 1808 4th St, Meridian, MS.
The Dentzel Antique Carousel at Highland Park
This Dentzel carousel was manufactured in 1896 by Gustav Dentzel for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. In 1909, it sold to the city of Meridian, Mississippi, for $2,000. It's valued at over a million dollars today!
In 1977, both the Dentzel Carousel and the Carousel House were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. They were designated as National Landmarks in 1986.
There are eleven other Carousels nationwide that have received this honor, but Meridian's is the only one located in the South.
The Dentzel Carousel is located at: 1802 Carousel Dr, Meridian, MS.
The Graves of Gypsy Royalty
Emil and Kelly Mitchell, the Gypsy king and queen are buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi.
In 1915, the queen of the Romany Gypsy clan, Kelly Mitchell, died at 47 while giving birth to her 15th child. King Emil, needing time to gather the Gypsies together for the funeral, chose Meridian (40 miles away) since it was the closest "Gypsy friendly" town that had an ice house able to preserve her remains.
Queen Kelly laid in state for twelve days, more than 20,000 Gypsies came to Meridian for the visitation, and 5,000 of them attended her funeral.
King Emil later remarried and lived another 27 years but chose to be buried next to his queen.
According to legend, if you leave a tribute on Queen Kelly's grave, she will visit you in your dreams and solve your problems. Many still visit the graves, leaving offerings of trinkets, food, and other items.
The Gypsy graves are located at Rose Hill Cemetery: 40th Avenue, Meridian, Mississippi.
Drive straight through the cemetery gate, when the road curves to the left, the graves will be on the right.
You can find more of Susan's Mississippi Travel Photography in the Mississippi Collection in her Gallery.
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I am the 8th photographer in 4 generations of my family. Back in 2006, my husband accepted a job traveling and I jumped at the chance to go with him. We have spent the last 11+ years traveling the United States.