Visit Casey Jones Village in Jackson for the Holidays
For nearly 50 years, travelers along Interstate 40 between Memphis and Nashville have been pleasantly surprised to discover Casey Jones Village, a nostalgic piece of the past situated at Exit 80A in Jackson. Established in 1965 as the Brooks Shaw & Son Old Country Store, Casey Jones Village has grown into one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions. The complex includes the Old Country Store and Gift Shoppe, a buffet restaurant, the 1890s Ice Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe, the Historic Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum, the Shoppes at Casey Jones Village, a historic chapel, a miniature golf course, an 1837 antebellum mansion called Providence House, and several railcars beckoning kids to climb on in and ring the bell.
“We like to say we’re the best whistlestop between Memphis and Nashville,” says Clark Shaw, chief executive officer of the world-famous Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store and son of founder Brooks Shaw.
Casey Jones’ Legacy
Legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones died April 30, 1900, when his passenger train collided with a stalled freight train near Canton, Miss. His heroic efforts to stop his train in order to save the lives of its passengers are celebrated and immortalized in his historic Jackson home and the adjacent railroad museum, where visitors can learn about his legacy and children can play with toy trains.
“The Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum is designed to resemble a train station like Casey Jones himself would have pulled into,” Shaw says, “and his home typifies what life would have been like for an all-American family in the late 1890s.”
While Casey Jones Village is a treat any time of the year, it is especially captivating during the holiday season. Feast on fried chicken, farm-raised catfish, country ham and cracklin’ cornbread at the Old Country Store Restaurant, which serves three Southern buffets daily.
“Our signature cracklin’ cornbread was Brooks Shaw’s mother’s recipe we have been serving for decades,” Shaw says. “We feature homemade pies, banana pudding made fresh daily and homemade tarts. Our Old Country Store ‘To Go’ has been discovered by travelers as a convenient take-out option for those who don’t have as much time to stay as they would like.”
The Old Country Store Restaurant has become widely known for its annual Christmas Eve Breakfast, with live entertainment, mulled cider and a visit from Santa Claus.
“It’s our tradition every Christmas Eve to serve our breakfast buffet for the special price of $3.99 as a gift to the people of West Tennessee,” Shaw says. “You would not believe the number of people it draws – people stand in line about 500 deep to get into the Old Country Store rain, hail, sleet or snow. A local charity is always a featured guest, and it has become a Christmas tradition among many families who are now bringing their third generation to the event.”
Old Country Store Gift Shoppe
After filling their stomachs in the restaurant, visitors can buy homemade fudge or enjoy hand-dipped ice cream in the adjacent Ice Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe or shop for Tennessee products.
“Our Old Country Store Gift Shoppe has dozens of nostalgic candies that bring back childhood memories, jellies and jams, and local honey,” Shaw says. “We have seen a large growth in the popularity of our Civil War selections with the current commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.”
Other fun finds include jewelry, aprons, hats, cookbooks, toys and playful T-shirts with sayings that reflect Southern culture, such as “Hey Y’all, Bye Y’all” and “Got Lard?”
While at Casey Jones Village, also take a peek in the 1905 Village Chapel and the newly restored Providence House. Built in 1837, the house was moved to the property from Trenton and is now open for tours, weddings, private catered dinners and community events. The Greek Revival home played a role in the Battle of Trenton during the Civil War, when citizens gathered on its roof to watch the battle unfold. It later became the home of Judge M.M. Neil, a chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
On Dec. 15, 2012, Casey Jones Village will host a living history event at Providence House commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Trenton. It will include demonstrations and re-enactments.
Music plays a big part of life at Casey Jones Village year round. Every Thursday, musicians from the Jackson Area Plectral Society meet at the village to jam. And in 2011, a new venue called Music Highway Crossroads opened in the Shoppes at Casey Jones Village adjacent to the Old Country Store. It has a stage for live entertainment, and future plans include a studio where guests will be able to make their own recordings.
“Nothing brings people together more than food and music, and we have all that and more at Casey Jones Village,” Shaw says. “We hope people who visit feel a wonderful sense of family and place as they pull off the interstate and go back 100 years to another place in time – a place where they can forget the troubles of this world and enjoy the nostalgia of a simpler age.”
If You Go …
Casey Jones Village is located at 56 Casey Jones Lane in Jackson, accessed by Exit 80A off Interstate 40. Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store and Restaurant is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. central time. It is closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors and $4.50 for children ages 6 to 12. Children age 5 and under are free.
For information on upcoming events, visit www.caseyjones.com or call (800) 748-9588.