Cover Image: Mississippi postcard, c. 1950’s, Public Domain
Down in the southern part of the Magnolia State amidst the long-leaf yellow pine where a handful of families once earned their livings by working in lumber mills or on their family farms, Dr. George McHenry settled down and started his namesake town in 1889. Twenty-one years later, McHenry had flourished into a bustling little town complete with several stores, churches, a school, a bank, and even its own newspaper.
By the 1920s, however, all of that beautiful pine and other timber had been depleted to the point where the boomtown of McHenry went bust. Of course, a series of fires didn’t help either. Seventeen businesses were burnt to the ground in a downtown fire in 1909. Another fire in 1930 nearly burnt the whole town down. After another fire destroyed the downtown business area once again in 1939, McHenry never quite recovered.
Still, numerous modern residential subdivisions and some commercial enterprises can be found in the McHenry area today. One of those commercial enterprises is the Stuckey’s that sits along U.S. 49 in McHenry. Okay, so it’s actually a Stuckey’s Express, but just because it’s more like a convenience store kind of Stuckey’s doesn’t mean that it’s not chock full of all that pecany goodness and kitschy souvenirs that you’ve always stopped here for.
That being said, once you’ve filled up your tank, be sure to also fill up on Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, Pecan Pralines, and more of your favorite road trip snacks for the journey ahead. Oh, and while you’re in the area, why not check out some of these things to see and do near the Stuckey’s in McHenry, Mississippi?
Dizzy Dean Rest Area / Wiggins, MS
You baseball fans likely know the accomplishments of Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, one of the greatest fastball pitchers in the history of the sport. Dean was a four-time MLB strikeout leader, a four-time All-Star, a National League Most Valuable Player, and a 1934 World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Along with all of his baseball victories and subsequent awards, however, Dean would also go on to win the heart of Bond native Patricia Nash. He would also fall in love with her hometown, and as a result, Dizzy and Pat would return to Bond throughout his career. Eventually, the moved to the area for good in the 1960s where the baseball giant would spend his time going to church, jawing with the locals and fishing of the coast of Biloxi. He died there in 1974 and is buried in nearby Bond Cemetery where the top of his gravestone is often lined with baseballs left behind by fans of the game.
Though he was born in Arkansas, Mississippians adopted Dizzy as their own, and in 2015, they erected the Dizzy Dean Rest Area along U.S. 49 just south of Wiggins in his honor. Here, past brochures of things to see and do in Mississippi and farther away places, you’ll find plaques and photos along with a mural of him painted on the back wall. It’s a nice local memorial to this American baseball legend.
Giant Girls Grown Watermelon / Perkinston, MS
Earlier last year, a giant sliced watermelon showed up on the side of Mississippi Highway 53 near Perkinston. The 29’-8” long by 9’ high watermelon is part of the marketing plan of Girls Grown Watermelon, an all-female watermelon operation that began about four years ago.
Wanting to teach their granddaughters about entrepreneurship, Vonnie and Ernest Ladner decided to have them start growing watermelons. So, every year for the last four years, from seed to sales, the girls have grown and sold watermelons at their grandparent’s farm located at 2510 Highway 53.
This year, they built the giant watermelon to attract more customers which makes for a great selfie. (Its giant slice sits nearby.)
Since watermelons are seasonal, the roadside attraction is seasonal as well, so check ahead before you go.
Palestine Gardens / Lucedale, MS
Reverend Harvell Jackson built Palestine Gardens In 1960 in rural Lucedale, Mississippi. Since then, people from all over the world have come to tour the miniature model of what the Holy Land looked like back in the time of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, road warriors and family vacationers alike still make the pilgrimage to Palestine Gardens and stroll the nearly 2.5 acres that include representations of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, The Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and more.
Today, however, you’ll find the miniature Mississippi model under the care of Don Bradley and his wife Cindy who took over the reins of the roadside attraction in 1994. Don has lovingly restored the folk art project that references both Old and New Testaments with a mix of materials including cement, brick, and plants.
Even if you’re not the religious type, it still makes for a nice, quiet respite from the busy highway. Admission is free, though donations are much appreciated. Visit their website here for more info.
This Place is the Bomb (Sorta) / Baxterville, MS
As part of two underground detonations known as Project Dribble, a five-ton kiloton nuclear device was detonated near Baxterville, Mississippi on October 22, 1964 at exactly 10 a.m.
A year earlier, the UK, the US and the USSR signed an agreement known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty. The treaty banned all atmospheric, underwater and outer space nuclear testing by all countries involved. However, because how to detect underground tests was still unknown, underground detonations were not banned. As a result, the US started Project Dribble where two detonations underground would take place.
The first was Project Salmon that would essentially blow a big cavity in the earth that would muffle the second blast. Though the explosion caused the earth to rise and fall in waves, pecans to fall from trees, creeks to run black and dogs to howl in fear, it was successful. It left a 110-foot in diameter void in the salt flats outside of Baxterville.
Two years later, the second part of the test was carried out using a much smaller bomb. As scientist predicted, the cavity produced by the first bomb absorbed the second bomb’s force.
You can visit the site today where a granite marker and a plaque are the only standing evidence of nuclear detonations taking place in the eastern US. Unfortunately, the site is only available to visit by appointment through the U.S. Department of Energy’s website here, so contact them before you plan to visit.
No matter if you’re traveling through Mississippi or Missouri, wherever your road trip takes you, take Stuckey’s along with you. From our signature Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, Pecan Pralines, and Pecan Divinity to our flavored Front Porch Pecans and Hunkey Dorey caramel popcorn treat, Stuckey’s has all of the road trip snacks you need to get you wherever it is you’re going. Order yours today from www.stuckeys.com.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!