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Jimmy Ogle Tours


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If you would care to make a donation to help offset the costs of the free tours, please use the PayPal button below.

Private or custom tours vary in cost and are subject to availability.

Thank you for helping to keep Memphis history alive.

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Welcome to the online home of
Jimmy Ogle Talks and Tours

Below you will be able to find information about the free weekly tours,
history lectures and public presentations that I offer.

Within the other pages, you will discover unique stories and information on
little known Memphis history and perhaps a little about why I love this town.

PLEASE read and check the information below
asking for additional information.

Jimmy Ogle Tours


    -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -      December News      -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   




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2015 Outdoor Walking Tour Season Begins March 15

As I always say, "if it is not fun for me, then I'm not gonna do it".
So... I am just a guy that does not like giving waking tours in the outdoors in Memphis in cold or rainy weather (between December to February) - my choice!

The next FREE indoor tour is Thursday, December 18 at 12:00 noon at the Shelby County Courthouse
(Adams Avenue & Second Street, southwest steps)


So, the 2015 Outdoor Walking Tour Season begins on Sunday, March 15:

Sunday, March 15 - Memphis & Arkansas Bridge Walk 1
2:00 p.m. at Crump Park (Crump Blvd. West, Exit 12C)

Sunday, March 22 - Riverfront Walk 1
(Chickasaw Heritage Park, Metal Museum, Crump Park & Memphis & Arkansas Bridge)
2:00 p.m. at Chickasaw Heritage Park (Crump Blvd. West, Exit 12C)

Tuesday, April 7 - TUESDAY TOURS 1 - The Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour
11:45 a.m. at the Cotton Museum (Front Street & Union Avenue)

The 2015 Outdoor Walking Tour Season will feature a new series of walking along the riverfront park acreage from the lower bridges to the Wolf River, and a special "10-Hour Tour" to begin at 10 a.m. on the 10th day of the 10th month of 2015 (that's Saturday, October 10). This will be the most inclusive and conclusive FREE walking tour of Downtown Memphis and the Riverfront ever!

More details in 2015 - stay tuned!!

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Dan Conaway - "I Am A Memphian . . . "

Every Thursday morning at 6:01 a.m., I get an email from The Rooster Rant! That email is from Dan Conaway ( a communication strategist), a true Memphian!

  Dan is a Memphian, therefore he is passionate and opinionated, not only about present political circumstances and misfortunes, but also about our City's rich history (good or bad). He is creative, energetic, interesting and informative in his musings. He encourages us all to do better for our community. The thread through all his stories is that he cares, and says so, and writes so. His (new) article appears each week as a column in The Daily News and the Memphis News (in old fashion newsprint). Dan is also the President of the Board of Trustees of Elmwood Cemetery - need I say more . . .

  One day several years ago, Dan called me to join him in a ride into the Arkansas delta across the Mississippi River. The change from urban Downtown Memphis to rural Crittenden County in just minutes is like going through a time machine. Those flat roads, bisecting beautiful cotton fields and shadowed by cotton candy clouds above, slow you down as you cross the levee that lead to Marion, Arkansas. From I-40 to Marion, one passes through a time when there once was a railroad ferry used to cross the river at Hopefield or perhaps better yet one might see a steamboat landing in the old channel near Marion! The Military Road connected Memphis to Little Rock in the 1800s and was an established route for the Pony Express, stage coaches and pioneers journeying to all points west for during the country's westward expansion after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

  Our quest that day was to visit the Sultana Exhibit on display in a vacated storefront in Marion. For several years, the leadership of Marion has been striving to develop a permanent museum to commemorate the nation's largest maritime disaster. The sinking of the Sultana, which occurred in the early morning of April 27, 1865 near Marion, claimed over 1,700 victims who lost their lives to the violent boiler explosion or treacherous river currents.

  In 2015, the Sultana Historical Preservation Society will meet in Marion and Memphis to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of this tragedy. The past two years leading up to 2015, the SHPS has met in Cahaba (Alabama) and Vicksburg, Mississippi leading up the Marion visit in 2015 and a commemorative cruise northward up the river on Saturday, April 25 (2015) departing from the same (Memphis) cobblestone wharf that the Sultana departed from in 1865!

So, in Dan's book, beginning on page 109 (as published on April 6, 2012) is his eloquent version of our Crittenden Trek that day - enjoy . . .


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Trails Of Tears "Water Route" Marker Unveiling

Memphis And The Trail Of Tears - They Passed This Way

Tuesday, October 7 * 4:00 p.m.

Beale Street Landing


  Update: On Tuesday, October 7, over 100 folks gathered on the banks of the Mississippi River to dedicate a National Park Service, National Trails historical marker commemorating the passage by Memphis of the "Water Route" of the Trail of Tears in 1830s. Troy Wayne Poteete, Justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court; Jack Baker President of the Trail of Tears Association; Aaron Mahr, Director of Long Distance Trails of the National Park Service; and Graydon Swisher, Director of Tennessee Trails Association - all provided comments for the occasion. The NPS marker was also united with an Alexis de Tocqueville marker placed in Tom Lee Park in 1998, which had been off display. The ceremony was followed by a 90-minute cruise aboard the ISLAND QUEEN riverboat. Many thanks to Graydon Swisher of the Shelby County Historical Commission for his hard work in making this dedication happen, as well as the addition of fourteen wayfarer signs along Stage Road for the "Bell Route" (land) of the Trail of Tears.

  The Trail Of Tears Association will be holding a convention in Memphis, October 6-9.  On the program is the unveiling of a marker developed by the National Park Service depicting the "Water Route" that passed along the Memphis riverfront in 1838 as a part of the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail.   Also at the ceremony, the relocation of the Alexis de Tocqueville marker from Tom Lee Park next to the Water Route marker will take place, on the river bank in the southwest corner of the Beale Street Landing property, with a majestic view of the Mississippi River, sunset and delta.

  The ceremony will be followed by a cruise aboard the ISLAND QUEEN (Tickets available - $15, Graydon Swisher, go2swish@gmail.com), departing at 5:00 p.m.  Troy Poteete, Executive Director of the Trail Of Tears Association and Graydon Swisher of the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation will do the honors for the unveiling and give special commentary aboard the ISLAND QUEEN cruise.

  At a later date, another marker will be unveiled on Front Street near the site of the crossing of the river of the "Land Route" also know as the "Bell Route".  Waymarker signs marking the Bell Route along Stage Road through Shelby County have been placed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  Many thanks to the tireless, multi-year efforts by Shelby County Historical Commission member Graydon Swisher, who is also the "Shelby County Expert & Contact" for Randolph Bluff in Tipton County.

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  Who would have thought that on on May 7 (2008), when the inaugural Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour stepped off (on a dare and a bet), that a "tradition" would begin that would honor the unsung elements of the infrastructure of Downtown Memphis - streets, sidewalks and storm drains, parks and plazas, alleys, rooftops and utilities - over 200 tours and counting! Well, TUESDAY TOURS does just that, and more providing all sorts of history and tidbits about the past, present and future of Downtown Memphis.

  The basics of the tours are the same - the assembly time (11:45 a.m.), length of tour (time, 45 minutes during the lunch hour), length of tour (distance, about four blocks), accessibility (on the sidewalks and street surfaces of Downtown Memphis), the phone number (901-604-5002), the cost - FREE and all tours are camera friendly! The only variables each week would be the weather (and it is usually only a strong rain that cancels the tour,) tour name and the assembly point (so see below) . . .


September 16 - Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour (Cotton Museum, Union & Front)
September 23 - Beale Street Landing (251 Riverside Drive)
September 30 - South Main Street (Hotel Chisca, at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue)
October 7 - Pinch District (Westy's, 346 North Main)
October 14 - Adams Avenue (Front & Adams, Quiltsurround)
October 21 - Madison Avenue (Front & Madison, University of Memphis Law School)
October 28 - Beale Street (Orpheum Theatre)
November 4 - Court Square & Surroundings (Court Square, Hebe Fountain)
November 6 - **SPECIAL** - The South November 6th, 1934 Street Tour (Elvis Presley Plaza on Beale Street)
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Composite Calendar For FREE Public Tours
Summer, 2014


Tuesday, July 1 - 7:00 p.m.
Star Spangled Banner Dinner
Peabody Hotel, Chez Philippe ($85)
Reservations: 901-529-4188

Saturday, July 12 - 9:00 a.m.
"Jimmy Ogle's Elmwood" Walking Tour
Elmwood Cemetery, 824 S. Dudley ($15)
Reservations: 901-774-3212, elmwoodcemetery.org

Thursday, July 17 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

Wednesday, August 6 - 6:30 p.m.
Shelby County History Awards Dinner ($25)
Hillwood Hall @ Davies Manor Plantation
Reservations: 901-604-5002 by August 1

Thursday, August 21 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

Saturday, September 13 - 10:00 a.m.
Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour Meet at the Cotton Museum, Front & Union

Saturday, September 13 - 11:30 a.m.
11:30 a.m. Mississippi River Bluff to Beale Street Landing
Meet at Court Square, Hebe Fountain

Sunday, September 14 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Tuesday, September 16 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour
Meet at Front & Union (Cotton Museum)

Thursday, September 18 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

Tuesday, September 23 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Beale Street Landing
Meet at 251 Riverside Drive

Tuesday, September 30 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: South Main Street
Meet at Hotel Chisca, South Main Street & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue

Tuesday, October 7 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Pinch District
Meet at Westy's, 346 North Main (at Jackson)

Tuesday, October 14 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Adams Avenue
Meet at Quiltsurround, Northeast Corner of Front Street & Adams Avenue

Thursday, October 16 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

Tuesday, October 21 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Madison Avenue
Meet at the University Of Memphis Law School, Front Street & Madison Avenue

Sunday, October 19 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Saturday, October 25 - 4:00 p.m.
Costume Twilight Tour
Elmwood Cemetery, 824 S. Dudley ($15 in Advance, $20 at Door)
Reservations: 901-774-3212, elmwoodcemetery.org

Tuesday, October 28 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Beale Street
Meet at the Orpheum Theatre, Main Street & Beale Street

Tuesday, November 4 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Court Square & Surroundings
Meet at the Hebe Fountain, Court Square

Thursday, November 6 - 11:45 a.m.
SPECIAL: November 6th, 1934 Street Tour
Meet at Elvis Presley Plaza, Beale Street between Main Street & Second Street

Sunday, November 9 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Thursday, November 20 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

Thursday, December 18 - 12:00 noon
Shelby County Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams & Second

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 Walking Tour of the University of Memphis West Neighborhood

Every once in a while I get to lead a walking tour of an area of Memphis that is not Downtown nor on the Riverfront. On September 10, I was asked by Dr. Lauren Burrow of the University of Memphis Early Childhood program to give a tour of the UM west neighborhood for her students. We met at the Normal Deport historical marker by the Norfolk Southern RR tracks, and walk west down Walker to the Highland Strip, north past St. Luke's United Methodist Church to Midland, and east back to the center of the campus. There were many sites to see and many stories to tell along the way. This nice photo collage of some of her favorite sites was submitted by Dr. Burrow - thank you!


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  Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right" at Sun Studio on July 5, 1954 and Dewey Phillips spun it more than 15 times on his "Red, Hot & Blue" Show at WHBQ Radio Station from the Mezzanine Floor of Hotel Chisca on South Main on July 8, 1954. Those two historic moments in time will be celebrated 60 years later at Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue! Parts of the WHBQ studio have been salvaged an placed in the second floor museum room of the Sun Studio tour. This sandwich board was salvaged from Hotel Chisca several years ago by Jimmy Ogle, and will be featured at Sun Studio beginning July 5 through the end of August, when the whole world will celebrate the "60 Years of Rock 'n' Roll".

  Memphians need to tour the most famous studio in the world - Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue (sunstudio.com, 901-521-0664, 800-441-6249) - and see where Sam Phillips created the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll! Tours available seven days a week, along with a great retail store and one of the City's best milkshakes!

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Shelby County Courthouse Tours Resume


  Now that Jimmy O is back in Downtown daily thanks to the new job as Community Engagement Manager with the Riverfront Development Corporation, he will be able to resume a tour of the Shelby County Courthouse on either the third or fourth Thursday of each month. Courthouse Tours are free, handicapped accessible, cameras are allowed for these tours (special exemption) and we assemble at 12:00 noon on the southwest steps of the Courthouse (Second/Adams).

  Highlights of the tour of Memphis & Shelby County's grandest public building (which opened in 1910) include (exterior) the six marble statues, web scenes in pediments depicting six aspects of law; (interior) the Grand South Hallway & Museum, six display cases of Courthouse, archives, seven different kinds of marble, Cuban mahogany wood, pedestal & bust of Andrew Jackson (dating back to 1835), historic cuspidor; visits to the Antique Courtroom and Shelby County Law Library; and numerous stories about the people, events and history of the courts of Shelby County, dating back almost 200 years.

November 20 - 12:00 noon

December 18 - 12:00 noon

January 15 - 12:00 noon

February 19 - 12:00 noon

Created by John Blount, this slideshow
will give you a glimpse inside the
Shelby County Courthouse tour.


Many thanks to the Memphis Bar Association for authorizing and approving these tours, plus enhancing the visitors experience;
to the Shelby County government administration for allowing the tours in such a significant building with important daily operations;
and to the judges, clerks and staff working in the Shelby County Courthouse on a daily basis for their tolerance and patience of this "invasion" of their working spaces.

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Beale Street Landing Update




  *** Update 10/01/14 ***  Riverfront Bar & Grill is now open Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am-9pm with Appetizers, Salads, Sandwiches, Desserts and with the best covered patio in Memphis and most fabulous sunset views. The best views of the July 4th Fireworks were on the terraces and slopes of Beale Street Landing. Island Play with various play and water features has delighted the kids all Summer long. Free Friday Flicks are shown on a 24-foot inflatable screen at the south slope beginning at dusk on Fridays. A recent visit of the NINA and PINTA replicas brought thousands to the docks to view the floating museums. Our neighbors to the east and to the south have been busy this Summer with the additional of the Cycle Track on the southbound lanes of Riverside Drive, slowly down the vehicular speeds along the riverfront, and the Grizzlies RiverFIT Course in Tom Lee Park adding a small soccer field, two sand volleyball courts and six exercise station along the west bank of the park.  ***

 Plans to open Riverfront Bar & Grill in the fourth week of June, have been announced with Beth Bomarito (Napa Cafe, Pete & Sam's) being the restaurant's General Manager. Come visit the 30-foot-long catfish on the Play Area Island with the water features being turned on in June. Expect a big Independence day celebration and fireworks blow-out on Friday, July 4. May highlights included a double rainbow, three boats docked at one time for the first time and parent paparazzi involving the playground catfish! In another development that impacts Beale Street Landing will be the introduction in June of a dedicated Bike Lane on southbound Riverside Drive - stay tuned!

Phase 4B is Open! Beale Street Landing now connects Tom Lee Park to the famous intersection of the Riverside Drive & Beale Street with some very nice walkways, viewing areas, terraces and a children's play area (come climb the 8-foot-tall and 30-foot-long Catfish). In fact now, one may walk, jog, stroll or bike from Martyrs Park near the lower bridges all the way to The Pyramid along the river's edge, about a four-mile trek. Plans will be announced soon for a June opening of an eatery at BSL and a grand Independence Day Celebration & Riverfront Fireworks Show.

  Memphis Riverboats opens the 2014 "Riverboating Season" in Memphis on Saturday, March 1 with a 2:30 p.m. Public Sightseeing Cruise and a 7:30 p.m. Dinner Cruise. Sightseeing Cruises run daily at 2:30 p.m. on the ISLAND QUEEN until October 31, with an additional 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays & Sunday, May 3 thru August 31. There is a Dinner Cruise each Saturday night in March (thru October 25) with additional Friday Dinner Cruises (May 2 to August 29). Go to www.memphisriverboats.net or call 901-527-BOAT (2628) for schedule, tickets, charter information and reservations. Also, the AMERICAN QUEEN returns on Saturday, March 22 and the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI returns on Friday, March 28. Both vessels, along with the GRANDE MARINER will make 25 visits to Memphis in 2014. Also, "Save The Date" for a grand celebration of the completion of the final phase of Beale Street Landing - Saturday, April 12.

  The January 2014 update shows a new year, the river rising and all riverboats "laid up" for the Winter months. The final touches are being put on Phase 4B, which are the northern terraces and islands (including a fabulous Play Area for children), and front door to the intersection of Beale Street and Riverside Drive. Two UrbanArt Commission projects on the premises will be competed this Spring - the Art Walk (600-foot, multi-colored paver walkway almost complete) by Gary Moore and the Evan Lewis "Beale Street Landing" structure (which I can not adequately describe this 54-foot tall work of art, so see the attached photo for the scale model). Memphis Riverboats opens its 2014 season on Saturday, March 1 and the AMERICAN QUEEN will return on March 22.

  The construction fencing finally came down on Tuesday, September 24 with the Service Drive gates being added on Wednesday, September 25. The grounds and grass roof will be open from sunrise to sunset during the Autumn months, with visitors being able to walk right up from Tom Lee Park onto the roof deck until dark. Overnight security (Black Lion) has been added the grounds and soon the parking lot will add gates, landscaping and a parking fee machine. Playground infrastructure is being installed in Phase 4B. The AMERICAN QUEEN returns on Monday, October 28.

  Making it through the first Spring and Summer here has been unusual to say the least! Opening on March 1st with snow flurries is not exactly the friendliest way to greet a new riverboat landing. Having a restaurant operator come and go, without actually opening was a major surprise and disappointment. Learning how to work around and with Memphis In May in Tom Lee Park and its domination of the intersection of Beale Street and Riverside Drive was eye-opening, for sure. What a job some of those Memphis In May volunteers and staff do to coordinate all that has to happen in those six weeks, from start to finish. The Summer weather has been mild and there is a new RFP on the streets for a restaurant operator. Phase 4B (terraces, walkways, and play area) is rolling along. The Mississippi River has been behaving for the most part (like the weather), but the driftwood continues to be a nuisance.

  For the Autumn months, look for quite a few rental events at Beale Street Landing, including the Cochon Heritage BBQ on August 30. The QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI returns on September 6-7 and the AMERICAN QUEEN returns on September 13, after both spending the past two months on the Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River; and then several more times later in the year before laying up in January for Winter maintenance. Look for a Grand Opening of all Beale Street Landing facilities in the Spring of 2014!!

  It is another chapter in The Book of Jimmy Ogle, as the phase 1 portion of Beale Street Landing opens on March 1. A new title - General Manager - replaces the old title of Community Engagement Manager, but it is all still Riverfront Development Corporation. The Phase 1 portion includes the grounds, parking lot, grass roof, plazas, dock, helical ramp and the south side of the main building - all open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The building will house the offices, ticket counter and gift shop of Memphis Riverboats, the local passenger vessel excursion operator in Memphis since 1955. So, March 1 will be a historic, not only for the facility opening, but also for the first time in 58 years, local excursions will not originate from the historic cobblestone wharf.

  In March, Memphis Riverboats will have a daily 90-minute Sightseeing Cruise at 2:30 p.m. and a 2-hour BBQ Dinner Cruise each Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (www.memphisriverboats.nets), as well as a few charters during the month. The AMERICAN QUEEN will dock on March 9 and March 24, and the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI will dock on March 30. Riverboating is back, and Spring Break will be here before you know it!

  Phase 2 will be the opening of the restaurant in the north side of the main building (name to be announced) and will feature a "Memphis Food" menu of BBQ, catfish, shrimp, burgers and more - very popular with locals and tourists alike. Catering functions will also begin in April (Athens Distributing and AutoZone are two booked all ready) in some of the areas of the facility. Then comes Memphis In May, the largest festival of its king in America, in neighboring Tom Lee Park. Ticketed admission will still be continued for Memphis In May events, but Beale Street Landing will continue to be open and free during the month.

  The third phase of 2013 will be considered the Grand Opening once the additional four acres of slopes, terraces, islands and playground on the north side of the building are completed later this year. Safe access to the river's edge will be available in the side of the project. Getting to opening(s) in 2013 has not been easy, and I would like to thank Geoff Wyonzek (Hnedak Bobo Group) for his role as project manager is coordinating all the numerous aspects of construction. Geoff is much appreciated in "Ogle Nation"!

  02/01/13: Phase 4B of Beale Street Landing (BSL) is in the "punch list phase", which means that opening is just around the corner. The Riverfront Development Corporation anticipates that Memphis Riverboats will open its 58th season of sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River on Friday, March 1 - marking the first time since 1955, the local excursion company will not be boarding from the Historic Cobblestone Wharf. Memphis Riverboats will continue to "fleet" and service its operation at the cobblestone address, but boarding for all cruises (sightseeing, dinner, charters and school groups) will be from Beale Street Landing. The first docking of an out-of-town vessel will be on Saturday, March 9 when the AMERICAN QUEEN will make its first 2013 appearance in Memphis.

  And then, by the middle of April, Riverside Grille and Dockside Bar will open daily restaurant service, lunch and dinner, special events and catered functions - an opportunity for the first time in Memphis history on the banks of the Mississippi River and Memphis riverfront. The grass roof slope and deck will be an instant hit for Memphians and tourists to gather to enjoy the views and vistas of the Delta, sunsets, river traffic, Bridge of Lights and city skyline. Then its April and Spring weather, Memphis In May, the July 4th Celebration and eventually the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championships in October, and more . . . stay tuned!

  Fast forward to December, 2012 . . . and what a difference a year makes! In a span of 18 months from May, 2011 (+48 feet) to August, 2012 (-9.8 feet), the Memphis riverfront experience nearly a 58-foot fluctuation in level. Construction of the main building in Phase 4A reached about 98% completion by year's end (2012) and the RDC already hosted two AMERICAN QUEEN landings (and a christening ceremony in April), the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship in October, two big public parties (Monogram Foods Loves Kids and ArtAFactor in November) and four functions during the holiday season in December. In between there was almost one hundred Hard Hat Tours given of the facility. With the extended record low water this Summer and Autumn, Phase 4B (the additional four acres of land on the north side of the project to Beale Street) was able to give off to a fast start with the lower portion of the terraces and walkway receiving most of the attention.

  As we look to the Spring of 2013, we anticipate the daily dockings for Memphis Riverboats at Beale Street Landing, a milestone marking the first time in 58 years that the local passenger vessel excursions will not embark at the Cobblestone Wharf (which will be receiving a long-needed restoration in 2013) and ushering in a new era of "Riverboating" in Memphis; and we look forward to the opening of the daily restaurant on the river - Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar; and the unparalleled views and vistas from the deck of the grass slope and roof. Hello 2013 . . .

  With Phase 4A construction winding up and over 50 Hard Hat Tours given, with the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship run in October, with two successful parties (Monogram Foods Loves Kids "Meat Me In Memphis" and ArtsMemphis "ArtAFactor" on the first weekend in November, with the Corps Dredge Weeks Venture completing its annual low water dredging in the Wolf Harbor - it all adds up to 2013 being an exciting "opening year" for Beale Street Landing. New Year hopes are that the water will return to the Mississippi River and the four overnight vessels - AMERICAN QUEEN, QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI, YORKTOWN & GRAND CARIBE - will enjoy their landings on the new dock at the Foot of Beale & Riverside. Memphis In May (honoring Sweden) will be here before you know it . . .

  New in 2013 and for the first time in its 58-year history of providing local cruises of all kinds, MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS (formerly known as MEMPHIS QUEEN LINE) will begin boarding passengers at Beale Street Landing, rather the historic cobblestone wharf. By the way, a large restoration and interpretive project will begin in 2013 on the Cobblestones, only one year after it received its own recognition on the National Register of Historic Places (thank you Judith Johnson). Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar will open in the Spring, 2013 in the north section and breezeway of Beale Street Landing (BBQ & Catfish and more, casual & comfortable for both tourists & locals). We look forward to greeting many visitors on the Green Grass Roof in 2013 . . .

  Along the riverfront neighborhood in the five-mile stretch between Wolf River and the lower three bridges, Phase 4B construction in Beale Street Landing continues on the additional four acres of park land added into the Foot of Beale/Riverside with sloped terraces and two large island pods for activities and (safe) access to the river's edge for the first time in the City's history. Bass Pro will be completing its retrofit of The Pyramid, and the softening of the city side shore line of the Wolf Harbor from Jefferson Davis Park to the north cove of Island Drive, known as Uptown West, will add greenways, landscaping and better access on former industrial areas. Engineering studies continue in preparation for the opening of the Harahan Greenline over the Mississippi River, connecting West Memphis & Arkansas with Memphis and South Main Street, thus creating a long network of pedestrian and bicycle pathways from the west to the east side of Shelby County (from South Main to Overton Park via Madison or North Parkway, Broad Street, the Greenline, Shelby Farms, Wolf River Greenway through Germantown & Collierville) - what a connection!! The 700+ people participating in the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge Walks of 2012, 100-feet high over the river channel experienced the great views of the river, delta, barge traffic and city skyline - all came away fired up about the opportunity and uniqueness of the future Harahan Greenline. So, stay tuned for 2013 on the Memphis riverfront . . .

  Construction is closing in on Beale Street Landing with the dock anticipated to arrive from Presidents Island in the second week of April. The Steamer AMERICAN QUEEN of the Memphis-based Great American Steamboat Company will arrive on April 26 in her inaugural voyage upriver for the Spring, 2012 season. Jimmy O will be aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN, on April 25-26 giving lectures about his favorite topic - Memphis! A series of celebrations, including the christening by Godmother Priscilla Presley, will be scheduled on April 26-27 prior to her departure for Louisville and the Kentucky Derby.

  Three other overnight passenger vessel excursion operators have scheduled for Beale Street Landing this year - the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI, GRAND CARIBE and the YORKTOWN. "Riverboating" is alive and well on the Mississippi River again after a four year hiatus.

  The restaurant at Beale Street Landing has been selected - Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar - and it is scheduled to open during the first week of July. The other major daily tenant, local excursion operator of 57 years, Memphis Riverboats (www.memphisriverboats.net), will begin daily docking for all passengers in the month of July, as well. Phase IV-B of the project (the terraces and islands of the northern shore line, from the main building to Beale Street & Riverside Drive, will be bid this Spring with hope of completion in the Autumn, 2013 after two low water seasons on the Mississippi River.

  Over twenty Hard Hat Tours for local community focus groups were conducted in April. Then the annual occupation of Tom Lee Park for the Memphis In May International Festival (www.memphisinmay.org) began with the Beale Street Music Festival (May 4-6), International Barbecue Cooking Contest (May 17-19) and the Sunset Symphony (May 26). Seven days of music, food, sun and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world - all enjoying the fabulous backdrop of the Mississippi River, river traffic and barge tows, Arkansas Delta and world class sunsets.

  Phase 4-A construction is almost complete. The shell of the building will be completed by October 31, and two large parties will be held on the first weekend of November (Monogram Loves Kids Foundation & the ArtsMemphis "ArtAFACTOR"). Under the green grass roof portion, The restaurant portion will be completed during the Winter months in time for a March 1, 2013 opening of the Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar, and the terminal portion will welcome the 2013 season of the locally owned and operation excursion company - MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS.

  The AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship will return to the riverfront, after a one-year hiatus, on October 13-14 with viewing areas in Tom Lee Park as well as Beale Street landing (Noon to 5:00 p.m., both days) - with the best views from the green grass roof on top! All activities of the Powerboat Races are FREE.

  During this historic low water phase (second all-time low in recorded history at -9.8 feet) that the Memphis riverfront has experienced in the Summer of 2012, the overnight passenger vessels will continue to dock at the Greenbelt Park Ramp, 1555 Island Drive, until further notice.

Special thanks to Aerial Innovations of Tennessee

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"Inside Memphis" With Jimmy Ogle

From time to time, you have heard Jimmy being interviewed on the Earle Farrell 4 Memphis Show (Monday thru Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.) on KWAM AM990 - The New Talk Of Memphis, and Jimmy has even set in the studio in Earle's absence to host the show on occasion.

Now, please join Jimmy with Chris Wade on "Inside Memphis" every Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 6:40 a.m. on KWAM AM990. George Bryant of KWAM has asked Jimmy to talk about anything that he wants to talk about on Memphis, be it about history, upcoming events, "virtual" tours that he has in his head - just anything. So, tune in to KWAM AM990 - The New Talk Of Memphis!

*** UPDATE ***

Radio personality Doug Stephan refers to Jimmy Ogle during his Good Day broadcast.

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Old Forest Trail Hike in Overton Park

Believe it or not, one of the best times to visit the Old Forest is in the Winter, when all the leaves have fallen and one can actually see "through" the upper canopy for several hundred yards.  At this time, one can really see how tall some of the trees tower.  The forest floor become somewhat barren and a Winter stage of life takes place.  Even the poison ivy takes a nap (not really, it just discolors!).

10:00 a.m. Every Second Saturday & Last Sunday of Each Month

Saturday  –  October 11, November 15 and December 13

Sunday  – 
October 26, November 30 and December 28

Assemble at the Lick Creek Bridge, just south of the Rainbow Lake parking lot
or just east of the # 2 tee of the historic Overton Park Golf Course, on Old Forest Lane, of course!
This 90-minute hike is different every time it is taken, as the Old Forest has a new story to unveil every day . . .



In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe
U.S. Supreme Court decision, we've reproduced a vintage CPOP shirt from the 1970s.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Thanks to the great people at Bluff City Sports
for spiffing up the original design for us!

We will mail you this fabulous shirt as a thank-you gift when you donate $15 or more to Citizens to Preserve Overton Park.
You can fill out the
handy form on our website to donate securely online with your credit card or Paypal account.

If you would rather pick up your shirt in person and/or pay by check,
please email us at
overtonparkforever@gmail.com to make arrangements.

Many thanks to citizens George Cates and Gary Shorb, Senator Beverly Marrero, Representative Jeanne Richardson, Councilperson Jim Strickland and Governor Bill Haslam for The Old Forest of Overton Park the 82nd State Natural Area in the State of Tennessee this Summer. Also, stay tuned for updates about the formation of the Overton Park Conservancy to protect and upgrade Memphis' greatest park.

Speak Up for Overton Park, visit www.overtonparkforever.org.

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Jimmy Ogle Appointed Shelby County Historian

November 6, 2011 - Jimmy Ogle, a walking encyclopedia of Memphis history and lore, stands in a flower pot on Main Street while giving a tour along November 6th Street through downtown Memphis. Roughly 120 people strolled with him on the free, three-hour, walking tour that traveled from Beale Street to Shadyac Avenue in the Pinch District.
Photo by Mike Brown


Memphis Commercial Appeal-Mar 24, 2014 - Shelby County Commissioners on Monday selected Jimmy Ogle, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, to serve as the county historian for the next six years.
Ogle, 61, was among three nominated and was head-to-head with 31-year-old Lauren Beaupre, whose youth some commissioners thought would bring a fresh perspective on the position, in the second round of voting.
Beaupre received four votes on the first round, and Ogle received five votes. Charles Crawford, 82, received two votes in the first round. On the second round of voting, Ogle received nine votes and Beaupre received four votes.

Memphis Daily News-Mar 24, 2014 - The Shelby County Commission has appointed Jimmy Ogle, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, as the new county historian. Ogle, who is also general manager of Beale Street Landing and the Riverfront Development Corp., serves a six-year term in the unpaid position.
Ogle was selected Monday, March 24, in a process in which University of Memphis history professor Charles Crawford and Faith Christian Academy teacher Lauren Beaupre, who has also been a fellow at the Tennessee Center for Historic Preservation, were nominated. Ogle, who succeeds the late Ed Williams, is only the third person to hold the position of county historian and the first to serve with a specific term of office.


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Ellen Davies Rodgers Award


  At the 3rd Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner, Shelby County Historian Ed Williams bestowed the Ellen Davies Rodgers Award to Jimmy Ogle as the leading advocate for history over the past year in the Memphis and Shelby County area. Shelby County has had only two Historians and Mrs. Rodgers was the first (1965-1994) and Ed Williams being the second (1994 to present).

Over 140 folks attended the History Dinner at Hillwood Hall at historic Davies Manor Plantation on August 7. Tennessee's Secretary of State gave a very interesting and informative keynote speech, and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell capped off the evening with some of his closing thoughts about "history".

In between the speeches, recognition was given by several local history organizations to members or individuals for achievements over the past year, and thirteen students that had won categories at the West Tennessee Regional Competition of Tennessee History Day received plaques from the Shelby County Historical Commission.

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Memphis Map for Elvis Fans


  The Memphis Map For Elvis Fans is out on the streets of Memphis, after a successful launch party at A. Schwab's on Beale Street on Monday, August 12. Being introduced during this year's Elvis Tribute Week by our good friends Andrea Shaw and Alan Grossman (from New York City), the "MMFEF" covers past and present Elvis related sites in Memphis, and recognizes many of the sites that no longer exist (for the first time).

  I met Andrea and Alan about 18 months ago, while  they were in Memphis (once again, as it turned out) to continue their "love affair" with Memphis, Tennessee. Within a few months, Andrew and Alan were contributors to the Memphis historical scene in another unsung way, and now have launched a beautiful fold-out map (be careful) and web site (www.memphismapforelvisfans) - all which is self-descriptive. The (18" X 24" once unfolded out) "MMFEF" is the most appealing tourist map of Memphis that I have ever seen, and I have been around here a long, long time doing this! They dropped by my office at Beale Street Landing last weekend to give me a map in advance, and I had Andrea autograph my first copy. There ya go . . .

  I was able to spend some time off and on with Andrea and Alan over the last year, and they have been on several of my walking tours of the streets of Memphis. Jake Schorr of Westy's and The Carriage Company of Memphis was a contributor, but Sue Mack and Mike Freeman spent a lot of time authenticating the research of Andrea and Alan. The ultimate satisfaction of giving Talks & Tours in Memphis is to have out-of-towners like Andrea and Alan grasp what "Memphis" is, and then put their heart and souls into a project that benefits all. I am sure that we will be hearing and seeing more from them in the future.

!!! Now featured in the Wall Street Journal !!!



A BIG MEMPHIS THANK YOU to Andrea and Alan!!

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*** War of 1812 Update ***

Plaques Attached; Ogle Awarded!

  On February 28, 2011, I received an email from Dottie McCallen, my contact with the Memphis Bar Association for the Shelby County Courthouse Tours. Dottie had been contacted by Bettie Gustafson about a historical War of 1812 marker at the Courthouse and the Andrew Jackson Bust & Pedestal in the South Hallway. She was wanting to host events to commemorate Andrew Jackson's birthday annually (with the return of a wreath laying tradition at the pedestal) and the War of 1812 participants from the "Memphis" area. (I put Memphis in quotation marks, as there was not a Memphis at that time, but many of these War of 1812 participants played a pivotal role later on that decade in the procurement of the lands of West Tennessee and the eventual founding of the town of Memphis in 1819).

  The War of 1812 "Bicentennial Season" began last year and will continue through to 2015.  Two years of planning and fund raising by the local Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812 hit a peak on Saturday, October 5 at the Shelby County Courthouse when two plaques were dedicated at a ceremony in the southeast corridor (see program photos).  Flags were presented, pledges and/or salutes to each flag were spoken, speeches were given, songs were sung (including "Yankee Doodle" and "Eight Thousand Redcoats"), and the cake was cut!   Descendants of War of 1812 veterans were chosen to cut the cake - (left to right in photo) Martha Tibbs (Clement McDaniel), Elise George (Isaac Shelby), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham), and John Walt (Samuel David Walt).

  Andrew Forbess, Boy Scout Troop 66 and William Prince, Boy Scout Troop 60 marched and held the flags into the corridor.  Thirza Sloan led the gathering in the singing of the National Anthem (inspired during the War of 1812 and written by Frances Scott Key). Aline Roberts of the Honorary Tennessee State President, U.S.D. 1812 extended a greeting, Anne, and  Holzemer (Honorary Regent of the River City Chapter of the DAR) led in the recitation of The American's Creed, and Olivia Chandler spoke of  the Purposes of the National Society of U.S.D 1812.

  The unveiling of the Isaac Shelby plaque was made by Elise George (descendant of Isaac Shelby) and Martha Tibbs (descendant of Clement McDaniel).  [By the way Clement McDaniel's name is also on a plaque in the southwest corridor of the Shelby County Courthouse recognizing Veterans of the Revolutionary War that are Interred in Shelby County, place by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1997.  McDaniel's name is the only name on both plaques in the building].

  The unveiling of the War of 1812 Veterans Interred in Shelby County plaque was made by John Walt (Samuel David Walt), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham) and Martha Tibbs (Clement McDaniel).  Names of all 32 veterans were read as a part of the unveiling.

  Carla Maitland brought an upbeat lilt to the ceremony in a talk about "war songs" like "Yankee Doodle" (which we sang a version of  "1812" lyrics provided by Bettie Gustafson), "Over There" (WW1), Johnny Horton's pop tune of the "Battle of New Orleans", and even placed sheet music on the chairs for "The Way To Avoid War".  Most importantly, we sang our National Anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner" which was inspired by a battle at Ft. McHenry (1813) in the early part of the War of 1812.

  At the close of the ceremony, Olivia Chandler and Bettie Gustafson made a surprise announcement of the Spirit of 1812 Award presentation to Jimmy Ogle for his efforts in supporting the Piomingo Chapter.  The Certificate and Medal is a nationwide recognition given by the National Society of the United Daughters of 1812.  According to Bettie, only thirty such recognitions have been made throughout the country to date, and this was the second in the State of Tennessee.  It was quite an honor to receive such recognition . . . thank you!


In closing, to the tune of Three Blind Mice, please sing along with me . . .

Eight Thousand Redcoats, Eight Thousand Redcoats
ee how they run, See how they run.
They all ran away from the Tennessee guns,
Old Hickory had the battle won!
did you ever see such a sight in your life?
As the Tennessee volunteers, the Tennessee Volunteers!



War of 1812 Veterans & Gen. Isaac Shelby To Be Honored in Historic Shelby County Courthouse
Saturday, October 5 at 2:00 p.m.


  After successfully promoting birthday/anniversary events (on March 15) for Gen. Andrew Jackson over the past two years, the Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812 will not host another event at the Shelby County Courthouse on October 5. Chapter member Bettie Gustafson has led a local fund raising effort for the installation of plagues honoring the Veterans of the War of 1812 Interred in Shelby County and for Isaac Shelby (our county's namesake and War of 1812 General).

  As with a plaque placed by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in the southwest corridor of the Courthouse honoring Revolutionary War Veterans Interred in Shelby County (19), these "1812" plaques will be installed in the southeast corridor. The Piomingo Chapter and the Shelby County Historical Commission have identified 32 veterans buried in various cemeteries in Shelby County.

  Gen. Isaac Shelby, also Governor of Kentucky, was instrumental, along with Gen. Andrew Jackson, in the negotiations with the Chickasaw Nation of all the lands (6.8 million acres) of "West Tennessee" (west of the Tennessee River to the Mississippi River) - now 21 counties of the State of Tennessee in 1818 (Chickasaw Cession). Tennessee became the third state after the original thirteen states to join the Union and the first territory to become a state in 1796. The first 22 years Tennessee was a state, all the land west of the Tennessee River was owned by the Chickasaw Nation. Immediately, Memphis was founded in 1819 on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff in West Tennessee by James Winchester, John Overton and Andrew Jackson. The first Mayor of Memphis, Marcus Winchester, is a War of 1812 veteran interred in Shelby County. These were indeed very formative years for our nation, for the Memphis area and in the careers of Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby.

  Gen. Andrew Jackson (co-founder of Memphis in 1819, seventh President of the United States from 1829-1837) rose to national prominence during the War of 1812 period, as well. His marble bust and pedestal already are located in the south hallway "courthouse museum" since 1921 and it commemorates his achievements. The bust is the oldest known bust cast on a sitting President in our nation's history (1835) and was used in the image of the first 4-cent postage stamp in our country!

The dedication ceremony will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 5 in the South Hallway of the Shelby County Courthouse, 150 Adams Avenue in Downtown Memphis. Stay tuned...

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Bridge Walk Photos from Marc Schwartz!

If you really want to see what some else sees on the BRIDGE WALK, then look at these wonderful photos submitted by a young photographer with a marvelous eye for "seeing" other things that some of do not "see". Marc has come on quite a few tours due to his enjoyment for Memphis History and is now sharing some of his photos with us through this web site. Thank you, Marc.

So, the next (and last of 2013) BRIDGE WALK is Sunday, November 10 at 2:00 p.m. Meet us under the beautiful Magnolia tree in Crump Park. Crump Park may be reached by driving west on Crump towards the bridges or north on I-55. The last exit in Tennessee before you cross the Mississippi River is Exit 12C (Metal Museum Drive). Attendants will be in the drive and parking lot to direct you to secure parking. Bring a camera!

And, while you are in the French Fort neighborhood, visit the National Ornamental Metal Museum and Chickasaw Heritage park, just south of Crump Park.

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Bill Downie & The PROUD MARY Restoration Effort


  A good thing about writing a story on a part of our nation’s history, such as the PROUD MARY, is that someone “out there” might actually read the story, or be touched by it, or even better respond with “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey used to say).

  The original PROUD MARY “Detour” appeared on this site on August 25, 2010 and more than two years later, I receive the following email from Jean Downie:

“My name is Jean Downie and my late husband Bill WAS the Proud Mary Restoration. He put a lot of love, labor and money into her restoration and was devastated when she sank into the the Loosachatchie River in December 1988. I would love to see my husbands name associated with your article on the Proud Mary along side of the Restoration Name. He loved that boat. He spend his life as a tug boat captain on the Eastern Seaboard and it was his life's dream to one day find the Proud Mary and restore her. We came from NY State and her history as she started out; taking prisoners to Sing Sing was part of our culture....” Mrs. Jean Downie...


  So, I went back to my file from the Mud Island days on the 1980s, and sure enough, it contained photocopies of letters and newspaper stories – all attributed to the efforts of Bill Downie trying to save and restore the PROUD MARY,

even a copy of a letter than I had sent, as General Manager of Mud Island, to Jean Downie on May 18, 1987 – small world, huh?.

  The Memphis Press-Scimitar in a December 1, 1967 edition displayed a photo of the MARY ELIZABETH on fire within sight of downtown office workers in the Wolf River Harbor. She was shoving an empty grain back up the harbor to Cargill, Inc. when the smoke and fire was noticed coming from the engine room area. Sam Drain, who had been “deckhanding on the Mississippi River for 45 years”, was tying the barge to the dock when he first noticed the flames. The Memphis Fire Department responded with nine pieces of equipment and took almost thirty minutes to dowse the fire. A 10-car Illinois Central train was held up for about an hour as the fire hose was stretch more than 200 feet across the tracks to reach the fire. Capt. John Murphy said that the “major damage was to the cabin and engine room, and that she would be rebuilt for being placed back into service as soon as possible”.

  Another photocopy is a February 14, 1978 story from The Commercial Appeal, the tugboat PROUD MARY was tied to a dock at Murphy Marine Service at President’s Island. John L. Murphy was the owner (since 1973).Murphy said that he believed a deckhand wrote the song in 1961 or 1962, but he could not remember his name. Larry Barber of Murphy Marine said “It can’t push a barge the way a towboat can. The only way to move a barge is to come along side and tie left to it.” The boat was used mostly as a harbor boat in Memphis. Unlike towboats, the MARY ELIZABETH had no tow knees – the large push rods on towboats used to push barges.

  In the file there is a photocopy of a story from an unidentified New Orleans newspaper with a picture of Bill Downie and his stepson, Henry Kenealy. The story covers the plans to make the PROUD MARY “seaworthy” and visit major ports along the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain and the eastern seaboard, using the vessel for a concert stage playing to audiences on beaches and parks. A culminating event would be set for July 4, 1987 in the New York harbor and the PROUD MARY then returning to Memphis to be donated to the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island for display.

  t that time, making the PROUD MARY, a 74-foot-long & 63-gross-ton vessel, seaworthy again was estimated to be $42,000, which included items such as extensive welding and patching, purchase of a diesel engine, generator, propeller, shaft and other preparations.

  Jean and Bill lived in Punta Gorda, Florida and in 1995, the Charlotte Sun wrote a story about Bill’s dedication, perseverance and efforts on behalf of the PROUD MARY. In the newspaper article, there is a photo of Bill holding the life board from the PROUD MARY. Bill Downie passed away in 2010 at the age of 75.

  Thank you, Jean Downie . . .

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And, on another update, the Butcher Shop restaurant in Downtown Memphis that had the MARY ELIZABETH painting on display, has closed, to be converted to condos. The Butcher Shop at 107 S. Germantown Parkway in East Memphis near Shelby Farms remains open (901-757-4244, www.thebutchershop.com). Hopefully the portrait will re-surface there or maybe in a nearby museum. Stay tuned . . .

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For Your Future Calendar


More information is available on the TOURS page.




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