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illustration of a yellow boxcar
figure 1  


Yellow Dog. A nickname for the Yazoo Delta, a southern railroad.

This came up in an interesting way. I came across a web site with this tasty tidbit: “W.C. Handy was stuck for too many hours one day in 1903 (or so) at the train depot in Tutwiler, in the northern part of the Delta, and he overheard another guy singing a song about ‘going where the Southern cross the Dog.’ Handy (who lived in Clarksdale) had never heard harmonies like this. This is the first documented use of blues harmonies.”reference 1 The tracks of the Southern, another railroad line, cross those of the Yazoo Delta in Moorhead, Mississippi. This site thoughtfully provides a picture of the exact place where the lines crossed.


1. Spreitzer, Ken, Doug Bradley, and Alex 1999. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: Where the Southern Cross the Dog. Mr. Jumbo's Latest Home Page. Accessed Sep 22 2001 from http:// contents/ delta99/ 3delta/ moorhead.html.

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photograph of two sets of railroad tracks crossing each other at right angles spacer
figure 2
However, I have to confess to being somewhat skeptical that there ever was a Yazoo Delta Line. Rail historians, railroadania collectors, and train modelers are among the most precise, diligent, and avid of hobbyists. None of their sites included any information about this railroad line, per se. While there are dozens of web pages about the blues that reference the Dog, no railroad sites. At all.
About the illustrations: Figure 1 adapted from an illustration © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 2 is a picture taken by Ken Spreitzer and purports to be the very spot where the Southern and the Dog cross. Used with permission, though when he sees this entry he may take it back.

see also: Yaller Dog Last updated: March 31, 2008
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