15-Nov-2010 -- A tribute to a D.C.P. pioneer: Danny Strickland was bitten by the GPS bug in February 2001, just a little over four months after the confluence craze first reached Mississippi.
After a successful father-son visit to 32N 90W on February 3rd, he headed out again on “International Confluence Day Eve” [that would be February 19th, the little recognized, often overlooked holiday which, for some obscure reason, was apparently observed in the U.S.A. that year as a federal holiday], and before day’s end, he checked off four other cp’s in the Magnolia State. Danny next turned his attention to the northern Rockies. He visited two Wyoming points in March and May, then between May 19, 2002, and May 28, 2002, conducted an epic journey recording 20 initial visits in NE, SD, WY, MT, and ND. (In 2010, only a quarter of these western U.S. sites have been revisited.)
Danny capped his remarkable “Golden Age of the DCP” career with an April 2004 visit to a Maine cp with project founder Alex Jarrett. We late comers to confluence hunting can only stand in awe…
With a business trip planned to Vicksburg, I was reminded that, almost a decade later, no one had returned to update any of Mr. Strickland’s five Mississippi cp reports. With a lot of driving ahead of me in any case, and in spite of a weather forecast threatening heavy rain, I decided to forego the interstate highway system, and head down on the back roads into the Mississippi Delta…
Leaving 34N 90W, I came down off the bluff at Charleston and headed west through the flat land of the delta on MS Highway 32. I turned south on MS 3/ US 49W at the entrance to the infamous Parchman Penal Farm (officially the Mississippi State Penitentiary). At Indianola, I took US 82 west to US 61. Then at Percy, MS 436 took me to an intersection with Fortner Road, just east of Glen Allan. At a junction with Greenfield Road, Fortner turns into a smaller Colony Road heading on south.
300 Colony Road is the home of Jim Newsom Trucking, Inc. More importantly for my purposes, across the street from the main shop and headquarters is their storage yard/ salvage yard/ bone yard which is the location of 33N 91W… On entering the office, I find JNT’s president conferring with the vice president/ operations manager at a desk behind the counter. I ask for permission to take some pictures, and comment that while Mr. Newsom looks just like the photo taken on the Strickland Sunday morning visit back in 2001, his wife now looks even younger. On hearing mention of the DCP, Mrs. Newsom proudly points me to a copy of that picture still posted on the bulletin board in the break room. Mr. Newsom offers to show me the spot, but then seeing my GPS, notes I can probably find it on my own, saying “I just hope I don’t have a piece of equipment parked on top of it.” I thank them for their time and head across the road.
Jim and Penny Newsom started Jim Newsom Trucking, Inc., in 1979 to provide transportation for local chemical, fertilizer and seed dealers and manufacturers. Prior to that, the Newsoms had traveled the wheat harvest from Mississippi to North Dakota providing custom combine services.
The company began with a single 18-wheeler, and three decades later has grown to a fleet of 40 trucks. JNT provides daily service to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. Their trailer fleet consists of a wide array of trailer types including aluminum dumps, flatbeds, hopper bottoms, open tops, tankers, and walking floors. According to Penny Newsom, the many different trailer types allow the company to service a broad base of customers.
JNT specializes in hauling dry and liquid fertilizer. Another important part of JNT's business is hauling offal (catfish byproducts) for Protein Products, Inc. out of a terminal in Sunflower, Mississippi. In addition to the trucking firm, Jim Newsom stays busy farming 3,200 acres of cotton and 300 acres of corn; and handling the company's agricultural salvage operation. JNT are buyers and suppliers of damaged fertilizers, damaged barges, feed ingredients, liquid products, grains, lumber and steel.
Across the road, I find 33N 91W indeed sits between long rows of assorted equipment, resting this morning on very soggy ground. The heavy rains from earlier in the day have stopped for a while, and I collect my pictures in short order. As I prepare to leave, Mr. Newsom drives by, waving a greeting from the road.
Having confirmed 33N 91W is little changed since the Danny Strickland visit, the only remaining burning question of the day is the fate of the formerly dancing bears he discovered at the Onward Store. According to an internet search, the Onward Store underwent a major make-over around 2005. Everything looks very spiffy at their website, but I regret to report, in person, five years later, everything looked a little shopworn. And, alas, no dancing bears… Fortunately, on the way to Onward, I had stopped at Rolling Fork where I rejoined Highway 61. There I found many examples of the Teddy Bear motif, as well as commemoration of the legendary blues artist Muddy Waters. All in all, a very enjoyable day of confluence hunting, down in the delta…