Rail Town – Amory, Mississippi

Rail Town – Amory, Mississippi

​Amory, Mississippi is not just your ordinary railroad town. The citizens of this small city in the northeastern part of the state have taken a great amount of pride in their railroad history and also their determination and resolve in light of a recent natural disaster that has galvanized their resilience even more.

Let's learn more about Amory and the charm that makes it a great rail town.

The city of Amory was brought to life in 1887 by Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham Railroad (KCM&B) officials who sought the best route to connect Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee. At the halfway point between the two cities, a new town was developed and named Amory after Harcourt Amory, a Lancaster Mills executive.

As the town grew and streets were plotted and eventually paved, a hotel, general stores, a drugstore, a grocery store, a bank and cotton gins became some of its first establishments. However, its main source of income was the railroad, which would shape the town's history forever.

“Working for BNSF in a railroad town is a little different than working at other locations on BNSF," said Robert Tribble, supervisor of engineering support. “You can sit down and still have a conversation with the old timers that will last an hour or more. Amory is a great place to live, and this town knows where its heritage comes from."

The city continues to recognize its railroad roots with steam engine No. 1529, which is on permanent display at Frisco Park in downtown Amory. The engine was a gift to Amory in October 1953 from the Frisco Railroad, one of our predecessor railroads. The locomotive was used by the last Frisco train to carry passengers. Restoration of the steam engine is in full swing with the help of grants from the BNSF Railway Foundation.

“BNSF has always been there to assist with upgrades on the old steam engine," said Mayor Corey Glenn. “We appreciate all that the railroad and foundation have done for us."

Today, Amory is a thriving city our rail line still runs through, with about 35 local BNSF team members. The town is a beautiful community known for its bustling main street and its high school sports.

“We have a strong, close community," Corey said. “The railroad is the backbone of our city and we celebrate that every year.

Each year, the city celebrates its railroad history with the Amory Railroad Festival. Churches and civic groups started the festival in 1979, which is held in Frisco Park every April. Nearly 40,000 people attend the festival, which features live outdoor free entertainment, food, arts and crafts booths lined down city streets, with  carnival rides for children.

“Our kids get out of school on Friday for food, entertainment and craft vendors," said Laura Myatt, the Railroad Festival treasurer and corporate sponsorships liaison.

Last year, the city was unable to host the festival due to an EF-3 tornado that hit the town March 24. The tornado destroyed 180 homes and 24 businesses, leaving devastation in its wake. More than 600 volunteers, including BNSF team members, came together to help with debris removal.

“Amory is a strategic operational location for BNSF and the Heartland Division," said Michael Garriga, executive director, public affairs. “As a native Mississippian, I always enjoy assisting and working with the communities within my home state, especially Amory, since the railroad is part of the city's history and culture. BNSF is also important to Amory as it provides the backbone to the local economy. When the tornado hit last year, I was quite proud to see BNSF and the BNSF Railway Foundation step up without hesitation to assist the community at its most desperate time of need."

BNSF gave $50,000 to the CREATE Foundation for tornado relief after the tornado hit last year. We're also proud sponsors of the Railroad Festival.

“The community really came together, and we are recovering nicely," Corey said. “Though many businesses and community members are still in the recovery process, we hope the Railroad Festival will bring light to a hard year."

While the town still has work to do, this year's Railroad Festival provided an extra feeling of love and celebration. We appreciate our Heartland Division team members and all their contributions to our railroad and this amazing railroad community. 

​About the photos -- Top photo: Downtown Amory during trade days in 1935; Middle photo: Steam engine 1529 displayed in Amory's Frisco Park; Lower photo: A crowd attends a past Railroad Festival in downtown Amory. Photo courtesy of the City of Amory​