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Vicksburg History

From the Archives: 1900 Block of Cherry Street



cherry street vicksburg
Looking north on Cherry Street before the viaduct was constructed

The two-story Italianate townhouse on the left (west side) of Cherry Street in the above photograph, just north of the railroad tracks, was built about 1880.

John H. Kaiser, a blacksmith, and A. H. Ralph, a conductor with the Alabama and Vicksburg Railroad, lived in the large house. An ad in the Vicksburg Herald in 1883 declared that John Kaiser was a horse shoer and was “prepared to do horse-shoeing, and guarantee to Do the Best Work in my Line. No need to send off for horse-shoers, as the best work ever done in that line can be equaled by me.” By 1895, Kaiser had moved and the building was a boarding house providing a home for Ralph, Miss Fannie Anderson, Miss Maggie Anderson, W. H. Gwinn (a printer), Mrs. E. A. Gwinn (operated the boarding house), Mrs. Herrod, Miss Lizzie Herrod, Miss Lillie Smith, and R. J. Soule, a watchmaker. By 1904, Ralph and his wife, Nellie, were joined in the house by S. Bruner (engineer with A and V Railroad), J. B. Hall, Jr. (bag master A and V Railroad), Sallie Hankins (maid), W. Mathews (bag master A and V Railroad), W. Martin (conductor), W. Rice (flagman), and Martha Washington (cook).

In 1909, the City of Vicksburg and the Alabama and Vicksburg Railroad began discussions about the construction of a viaduct over the railroad on Cherry Street at the Holly Street Depot. The president of the A and V Railroad, D. D. Curran’s proposition to the city and to the Vicksburg Street Railroad Company (streetcar) was this: “the city to assume any property damage from abutting property owners; to take care of the water and gas mains; the city to take care of the drainage, and the street railroad company to pay 25 per cent of the cost of the viaduct, the figures of the cost of the structure to be submitted by the A and V Railroad officials.” The city agreed to contribute and to take responsibility for the all that was requested, but the Street Railroad responded that they could not afford to contribute funds, but would not hold anyone responsible should their property, which was on the west side of the proposed viaduct, be damaged during construction. The A and V Railroad had plans drawn up for the viaduct while talks continued for the next six months.

vicksburg cherry street viaduct

Photo of the viaduct taken on the west side, looking east at the Holly Street Depot Credit: Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Negotiations were still underway when, on December 14, 1909, a street car lost control going north down the hill and hit an A and V engine traveling across the street. Five of the twelve people on the street car were injured. According to the Vicksburg Evening Post, “the rails were slippery and muddy, and when the street car began descending the steep incline, the motorman applied the brakes as usual. But when half way down the hill the motorman realized that the brakes were not checking the speed of the car, which was sliding along the rails. Then he attempted to reverse the car, and while the wheels were turned in the opposite direction the car continued its descent down the hill.” “Three little girls, enroute to school, were passengers in the car. Two of them were slightly hurt. Florence Cage, six years old, daughter of Mr. W. H. Cage, who is a motorman, was thrown against the side of the car and her forehead bruised. Usually, Mr. Cage is in charge of car No. 65, but he had other duties to perform this morning, and was not on the car when the accident happened. The plucky little girl, though hurt, continued her way to school at St. Francis Xavier’s Academy. Her father called for her about 10 o’clock this morning and took his daughter home with him. Minnie Miles, aged fourteen, daughter of Mr. Ben Miles, who was going to the Main Street School, was also in the car and her head was cut and bruised. She was attended by Dr. H. H. Haralson, who reported the wounds of a minor character. Dr. Haralson’s daughter, Betty, who was on her way to the Main Street School, was also on the car. When the accident occurred she was caught between two seats and mashed a little but suffered no injuries. The excitement, and the shock however, slightly unnerved her, and though she continued her way to school, she became a little sick during the morning and returned to her home.”

Cherry Street today

Cherry Street today

The Post suggested that “the accident will help as an incentive toward the speedy building of the viaduct at this danger spot.” Negotiations continued and the A and V reported that the cost of the viaduct would be $65,000 and that they would cover all but $5,000 that the Street Railroad would pay. The city negotiated with the owners of the house and property in the photograph and finally in July 1910 paid $22,500 and the house was demolished. Work started on September 13, 1910 by the Blodgett Bridge Company from Kansas City. On April 8, 1911 (almost two years after the discussions had started), street cars started using the bridge and then on April 24, cars were admitted on the viaduct. It continues to be used today.

-Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

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