The Tanglefoot Trail, located in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area preserves the abandoned 43.6 mile railroad corridor assembled in part for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad by Col. William Clark Falkner beginning in 1871. With its storied past the Tanglefoot offers the historian a trek through time; the nature enthusiast views of creeks, flora and fauna; and the recreational opportunist an asphalt trail that winds through six communities — New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, New Houlka and Houston as well as three counties – Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw. Along the way are mature hardwood forests; trees draping with kudzu; fields of cotton and soybeans; pastures, and wetlands.

Col. W.C. Falkner

First blazed by Native Americans, the trail was also traveled by early explorers, Hernando de Soto and later, Meriwether Lewis. The last Chickasaw King Ishtehotopah made his home near the creek, now known as King Creek, which the Tanglefoot Trail crosses. As Union troops made their way south, Col. Benjamin Grierson, along with his soldiers, followed the same king’s pathway.

When communities were reconstructed and others formed, Col. Falkner, began his quest to build a railroad. One engine, the Tanglefoot, a ten wheeler with driving wheels 36 inches in diameter, operated at a steam pressure of 60 psi. It performed admirably as the line was constructed through the area. It was a narrow gauge engine and retired when the line became standardized.

In September 2013, over 125 years after first reaching the area, the Tanglefoot returned to open a new chapter in our history. Replacing rails with a trail, the Tanglefoot offers young and old; family and friends; neighbors and visitors opportunities to get outdoors. Have fun and enjoy yourselves!

THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS – ROBERT JOHNSON

Last Fair Deal Gone Down

(The Tanglefoot Trail is built on the right of way of the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad in north Mississippi, where the founder lived)

Robert Johnson: “King of the Delta Blues Singers… recording
29 songs between 1936 and ’37”


Last Fair Deal Gone Down [YouTube]

It’s the last fair deal goin’ down
Last fair deal goin’ down
It’s the last fair deal goin’ down, good Lord
On that Gulfport Island Road
Eh, Ida Belle, don’t cry this time
Ida Belle, don’t cry this time
If you cry about a nickel
You’ll die ‘bout a dime
She wouldn’t cry, but the money won’t mine

I like y’way you do
I love the way you do
I love the way you do, good Lord
On this Gulfport Island Road

My captain’s so mean on me
My captain’s so mean on me
My captain’s so mean on m’-mmm, good Lord
on this Gulfport Island Road

Take camp tain he and see
camp ain’t he and see
At scal ain’t be at seen
, good Lord
On this Gulfport Island Road

Ah, this last fair deal goin’ down
It’s the last fair deal goin’ down
This’ the last fair deal goin’ down, good Lord
on this Gulfport Island Road

  1. The Gulf & Ship Island Railroad linked the docks at Ship Island, Mississippi just off the mainland at Gulfport, with the main line at Jackson. It ran through Hattiesburg and was completed July 4, 1900, its vice-president being the colorful colonel William C. Falkner, great-grandfather of the famous American novelist, William Faulkner. It was purchased by the Illinois central in July 1925 for five million dollars and over the next three years over one and a half times that amount was spent on improvements! *(This section was an extension of the rail line along which the Tanglefoot Trail is built)
  2. The underlined passages above are phonetic approximations of what Johnson sings, which, in truth, may be nonsensical.
  3. The “won’t” in the first verse is a dialectic substitute for “weren’t”

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