Wayne County, Mississippi

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Attractions

Maynor Creek Water Park

Maynor Creek Water Park, located about six miles west of Waynesboro on Reservoir Road, provides a restful stop and vacation destination for individuals and families through a mix of rustic settings and modern facilities.

The park, which is operated by the Pat Harrison Waterway District, is centered around a 450-acre flood-control lake, which brings in those looking to catch their share of world-class bream, catfish, crappie and bass.

Maynor Creek features cabins and bungalows as well as camping sites with utility hook-ups, along with meeting facilities for everything from family reunions to wedding receptions.

Secluded and well-maintained picnic areas dot the park’s landscape as do covered pavilions to accommodate all types of outdoor gatherings. The facility also has an extensive nature trail along with a lake-side outdoor stage.

The park has a sizable boat ramp and parking area along with lake-side fishing opportunities. A public swimming area is available as is an area on the lake for various types of skiing.

For information on Maynor Creek Water Park, contact the park office at 601-735-4365 or visit http://www.phwd.net/ on the Internet.

Chickasawhay River 

For the nature enthusiast, Wayne County is home to one of Mississippi’s premiere rivers — the Chickasawhay, which serves as one of two main tributaries (along with the Leaf River) to one of the nation’s most pristine watersheds in the Pascagoula River Basin.

The Chicksawhay and Leaf rivers run mostly parallel to each other, with the Leaf to the west, until they merge to form the Pascagoula,which runs another 80 miles before reaching the Mississippi Sound.

The basin covers about 8,800 square miles in Southeast Mississippi, including all of Wayne County, and provides opportunities for fishing and boating excursions in areas that feature low-rolling hills, forest-covered lands and broad, flat plains.

The spring and fall are favorite times of the year for many to visit the Chickasawhay to take in the festival of colors and fast-paced fishing action for bass, bream and catfish.

In the summer, the Chickasawhay offers visitors the chance to swim, boat, canoe or kayak to beat the heat and take in the charm of a truly Southern outdoors experience, and to enjoy some of the finest creek fishing in the country.

The area is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including deer, wild hogs, wild turkey, squirrels, rabbits and many more species — which is just right for those wanting to see and photograph Southeast Mississippi’s natural wonders.

Two local tributaries in Wayne County flow into the Chickasawhay — Big Creek and Buckatunna Creek. Both creeks offer fishing, canoeing and kayaking opportunities.

In a historical context, Buckatunna Creek is one of the first creeks to appear on a map of Mississippi. It was noted on a French map from 1732, according to the Mississippi Genealogy Trail.

There are three public boat launches on the Chickasawhay River — off Mississippi Highway 184 west of Waynesboro near Pop’s restaurant; on Mississippi Highway 63 South of Waynesboro; and one in the Buckatunna-Chicora area off Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road.

In addition, there is a public boat launch to Buckatunna Creek at Denham Landing, which is located on the Denham-Progress Road.

Public recreation-public use facilities

Wayne County is home to a variety of community venues and amenities that add to our outstanding quality of life. We hope that you will take advantage of these facilities, which offer outstanding family recreational opportunities.

• Waynesboro Municipal Auditorium. The auditorium, which is operated by the City of Waynesboro, plays host to a variety of community events throughout the year – everything from the annual Wayne County Memorial Day celebration and beauty pageants to dances and civic meetings. The facility has a theatrical stage as well as kitchen facilities, and can provide tables and chairs for gatherings. For information on rental of the Waynesboro Municipal Auditorium, located on Benton Street, contact Waynesboro City Hall at 601-735-4874.

• Waynesboro Sports Complex. The Sportsplex, as it is commonly called by locals, is home to Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball as well as the Wayne County Soccer League. The lighted facility, located adjacent to Wayne County High School off Highway 184, also has a concession stand, restroom facilities and ample bleacher seating.

• Southside Community Park. This city-operated park on South Spring Street has recently undergone a major face lift thanks to a Self-Help Community Development Block Grant, in which members of the community provided hundreds of hours in labor and services to update the facility. The park is home to a multi-purpose community center as well as outdoor pavilion and restroom facilities, a basketball court, community walking track, playground equipment and a new splash pad.

• Waynesboro City-Eastside Park. Another city-operated facility, Eastside Park is located on Shady Pines Street. The park is home to a covered pavilion that has electrical service, two fully resurfaced tennis courts and playground equipment. In addition, residents and guests utilize a community green space at Eastside Park for everything from soccer to model airplane flying.

• Hogan Park. Located near Waynesboro Middle School at the foot of Wayne Street, Hogan Park is home to some of the area’s premier baseball and softball fields – for the Optimist-Hogan Park League -- and is even home to a golf driving range. The spacious facility, owned by the City of Waynesboro, also boasts an outdoor pavilion, concession stand and is home to the Waynesboro Optimist Club’s community building.

• Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Located on MLK Drive near Waynesboro Middle School, this community pocket park has a pavilion as well as playground equipment.

• Wayne General Hospital Wellness Center and Walking Track.WGH has made a commitment to the well-being of area residents through these outstanding community facilities. The hospital’s walking track, which is open to the public at no cost, winds its way through a lush natural setting of pines and shrubs, and features hills and valleys for an optimal workout. The Wellness Center has a full line of weight machines and provides professional assistance in designing a personalized exercise program for participants. WGH also offers a full complement of health, fitness and wellness education programs to increase community awareness about the benefits of exercise, proper nutrition and health education. For information on the Wellness Center, contact Jason Sehon at 601-735-7167.

• Denham Community Walking Track. The Denham Volunteer Fire Department, located on County Lake-Denham Road, constructed a community walking track adjacent to its fire station several years ago. The lighted, paved surface winds its way along a series of hills and valleys for the optimal workout. It is open daily and closes at 10 p.m.

• McDonald Family Recreation Area. Located in Wayne County’s Pineville community on the Buckatunna-Mount Zion Road, the Keary Lee McDonald family constructed this private, road-side park as a place to host such annual gatherings as the Pineville Senior Citizens Day, which honors local seniors with a cookout each May. In addition, county school children are invited annually for a field trip to the park.

• State Line Community Park. Residents of State Line, which was once a key stop along the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad line, have converted the former rail site fronting the historic downtown business district into a park. The park features a community pavilion and is home to festivals and gatherings on an annual basis.

• Clara Whippet Park. Located off the Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road in Wayne County’s Clara community, this park is home to the Clara Whippets football team, but also has space dedicated for other sports. The park is also home to a walking track, and has played host to the county’s middle school track and field championships through the years.

• Clara Community Park. Located at the corner of the Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road and Mississippi Highway 63, this park features picnic tables, plentiful shade trees and some of the coolest water to swim in or jump ionto anywhere in Wayne County.

Waynesboro Country Club

Opened in 1964, the Waynesboro Country Club is a private, nine-hole course located off U.S. Highway 84 east of Waynesboro. Waynesboro Country Club measures 2,792 yards from the longest tees (par of 35) and has a slope rating of 120 and a 68.5 USGA rating. The course features three sets of tees for different skill levels. The greens are tifdwarf grass. For information, call 601-735-6494.

Wayne County has two sites on the National Register of Historic Places:

1. Downtown Waynesboro Historic District. The area is part of the central business district that traces its history back to the founding of Waynesboro and is tied to the railroad that helped in making the city a reality. The district is bounded on the north by Court Street, on the West by Station Street, on the east by Spring Street and on the south by Wayne Street. The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 26, 2012. (GPS location: Latitude 31 degrees, 40 minutes, 32 seconds North; Longitude 88 degrees, 38 minutes, 43 seconds West.)

2. Yellow Creek Bridge. The abandoned bridge lies alongside Old River Road and is located northeast of Waynesboro. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1988. (GPS location: Latitude 31 degrees, 41 minutes, 49 seconds North; Longitude 88 degrees, 40 minutes, 13 seconds West.)

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

Wayne County historical markers

For those looking for clues as to Wayne County’s past, one need look no further than the host of roadside markers that spotlight some of the area’s long history.

The county, as a whole, is home to 13 markers. Here is a summary of the other markers that can be found — with a little time and effort — throughout Wayne County, in alphabetical order:

BUCKATUNNA

Location: U.S. Highway 45 (South of Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road on Southwest side of highway).

The marker reads: “One of the oldest Piney Woods settlements. Many of Scotch-Irish pioneers held Georgia grants. Nearby RR bridge over Buckatunna Creek was scene of famous holdup in eighties by Burrows’ gang.” 

DYESS BRIDGE

Location: Dyess Bridge Road at Big Rock Road intersection.

The marker reads: “To facilitate travel between Wayne Co., Miss., and points west, W.C.C. Dyess built here the first bridge over the Buckatunna River, 1868-70. It continued in use until 1912. Dyess homestead 200 ft. N.W.”

FIRST AUTO BANK

Location: Azalea Drive (Highway 184) at Fagan Avenue in downtown Waynesboro

The marker reads: In 1962, the First State Bank in Waynesboro became the first bank in Mississippi to open an auto bank offering drive-up window service. The idea originated with bank president and later chairman W.D. Mangum. Approved by the state bank comptroller Llewellyn Brown.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF WAYNESBORO

Location: Azalea Drive at Mississippi Drive (Highways 184 and 145 intersection) in Waynesboro.

The marker reads: “First Baptist Church, originally named Salem Baptist Church, was organized in 1806 near Patton’s Creek, approximately 1 1/2 miles southeast of town. The congregation moved to this site in 1895 and built a wood frame church. The name was officially changed to First Baptist Church in 1942.”

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF WAYNESBORO

Location: Turner Street (Mississippi Highway 63) at Wayne Street in Waynesboro.

The marker reads: “The First United Methodist Church of Waynesboro was established in 1858 by John C. Patton as a Methodist Protestant Church. Their first sanctuary, a two-story wood frame building shared with a local Masonic Lodge, was built the same year. The church became a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1860.”

GENERAL JAMES PATTON

Location: Winchester Cemetery, U.S. Highway 45.

The marker reads: “Born 1780 in South Carolina. First signer of petition in 1808 to form Wayne County for Mississippi territory. Served in several Wayne County courts. State’s 2nd Lt. Gov.”

GRAY FAMILY CEMETERY

Location: Gray Cemetery Road.

The marker reads: “This family was established in Wayne County by Clinch Gray, a native of North Carolina. He immigrated to this region in 1808, one year before the county was organized within the Mississippi Territory. Gray signed Mississippi’s first constitution in 1817. He was buried here, 1824.”

LT. JAKE W. LINDSEY HIGHWAY

Location: Mississippi Highway 63 at Highway 184 (across from courthouse).

The marker reads: “Lt. Lindsey was awarded the 100th Congressional Medal of Honor given in World War II. Presented by Pres. Truman, Lindsey was they only recipient to ever receive the award before a Joint Session of the Congress.”

MAJOR GENERAL IRA PLATT SWIFT

Location: Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road.

The marker reads: “Born at Chicora, Mississippi, in February 1898, Ira Platt Swift graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1919. Decorated many times for distinguished service, Swift commanded combat units in Europe in World War II and in the Korean War. His last command was the V Corps, NATO, 1953. He died July 1987 and his buried in Arlington National Cemetery.”

MATHERVILLE

Location: Mississippi Highway 510 near Geneva Church Road.

The marker reads: “Originally known as Miltonville, this area was first settled circa 1816. Central to the growing community was the home of Col. John H. Horne. In 1882, Thad Mathers Sr., moved to the area and built a mercantile store. A cotton gin, church, school, saw mill, and doctor’s office soon followed. Dr. Mathers also applied for a post office under the name Miltonville. There being a Miltonville post office already, the application was granted under the name of Matherville, thus changing the community’s name.”

PHILADELPHUS CHURCH

Location: Corner of Wayne Street and Mississippi Drive in Waynesboro.

The marker reads: “Eight miles northeast, on Buckatunna Creek. Organized with 11 members, March 31, 1821, in John Keahey home. Moved to McCrae & Britton area about 1840. First Presbyterian Church in Wayne County.”

STRENGTHFORD SCHOOL

Location: Strengthford-Cooley Road (in front of Strengthford Masonic Lodge).

The marker reads: “In 1870, a log structure, used both as a church and school, was built here. In 1911, a two-story school was constructed using donated materials and labor. In this building, five county schools were consolidated. The building burned in 1933, and was rebuilt the next year. The Strengthford School was closed in 1957.”

WAYNE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL HIGH SCHOOL

Location: 40 Clara School Road (in front of present Clara School)

The marker reads: “Open here from 1911 to 1938 offering education, work, and practical experience to the rural youth of the county. Boasted classrooms, dorms, dairy herd and barn, and cultivated fields.”

WINCHESTER

Location: U.S. Highway 45 at Winchester Cross Road.

The marker reads: “About one mile to the West. Site of Patton’s Fort, 1813. Chartered 1818. Near old road from Natchez to Georgia. Became a thriving trade center, serving as county seat until 1867.”

Mississippi Country Music Trail Marker -- Jesse Rodgers

On Thursday, May 30, country music entertainer Jesse Rodgers, a native of Wayne County, was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail. The marker is located at the corner of Highway 63 and Buckatunna-Chicora-Clara Road in the Clara community.

Jesse Otto Rodgers (1911-1973) born near Waynesboro and first cousin to Jimmie Rodgers, began singing on Mexican border radio stations after relocating to Texas. He wrote songs and recorded for Bluebird Records in the mid-1930s, briefly as a blue yodeler similar to Jimmie, but soon in his own Western style. He was a successful cowboy radio singer, children’s television host, and country-boogie style recording artist for two decades after World War II, based in Philadelphia, Penn.

Born Jesse Otto Rodgers on March 5, 1911, on his parents’ farm near Waynesboro, Rodgers’ father, F.G. ("Eff") Rodgers, gave up farming not long after Jesse’s birth to work on the Illinois Central Railroad along with his brother Aaron, the father of celebrated Singing Brakeman-to-be Jimmie Rodgers. Jesse would recall being taught his first guitar chords by first cousin Jimmie, who was thirteen years older. After his mother died in 1923, Jesse spent some time with relatives in Texas, but was back in Mississippi, married and beginning a family by 1928, working on his in-laws’ farm in Perry County. Pulled toward a musical career, inspired by Jimmie’s extraordinary success, Jesse began work on the Texas-Mexican border-based "border blaster" radio stations XERA and XERN in 1932, as both performer and announcer. When Jimmie Rodgers died in 1933, RCA Victor’s Bluebird label signed Jesse as a potential successor who would record similar material. Jesse could sound remarkably like his cousin, and such songs as "Yodelling the Railroad Blues," and the use of musicians Jimmie had worked with, such as Hawaiian Charles Kama, accented the connection. Between 1934 and ’37, forty Jesse Rodgers records in this mode were released by Bluebird, Montgomery Ward, and as far away as Australia on Regal Zonophone.

Emerging as a talented and distinctive guitarist and songwriter in his own right, a singing cowboy when that image was at its height of popularity, from 1938 through 1944 Jesse recorded western songs for the Sonora and Varsity labels, the labels now spelling his name "Rogers," likely to suggest a similarity to Roy Rogers, while working for a succession of radio stations in Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis as an on-air performer and announcer, including a stint on the celebrated WLS National Barn Dance out of Chicago. He became a popular live attraction in the regions where he broadcasted.

Jesse’s move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1945 jump-started his national career anew, first as the host of a local daily show on WFIL radio, then as a cast member of "Hayloft Hoedown," heard nationally every morning on ABC radio. Signed again by RCA Victor, he was successful with singles ranging from "Blue Christmas" to "Hadacol Boogie" backed by his band the ’49ers. In 1949, he was the lead in a live television Western, "The Western Balladeer," which led to his hiring as singing cowboy adventurer "Ranger Joe" on a filmed network action series aimed at 1950s children, and featuring his trained horse Topaz. Musically, Jesse continued to modernize, appearing on the MGM, Cowboy, and Arcade labels singing boogie and rockabilly numbers such as "Jukebox Cannonball" before emphysema forced his retirement in 1963.

Much like the Mississippi Blues Trail, which now garners more than 160 markers, the Mississippi Country Music Trail celebrates Mississippi's rich heritage of country music legends and chart toppers. The trail features a variety of country music artists, including Jimmie Rodgers, Marty Stuart, Mac McAnally, Faith Hill, Charley Pride and others to comprise the first 30 markers across the state.