Tallahatchie Crossing|Iron Bridge|Wyott's Crossing|Wyliesport|Wylie's Crossing (Location Key)


This Tallahatchie River crossing is not easy to pin down. In "My Grandmother Millard," set during the Civil War, the "Crossing" is probably just a ford, a place where the river is shallow enough to get wagons across - which explains why it would be of military importance to both armies (689). In this short story it is the site of a battle which, unlike the battle at 'Harrykin Creek' in the story's title, actually took place at the river in 1864. One of the locations in The Town is "Wyott's Crossing." It is mentioned twice in that text. A passage describing Vaiden Wyott's origins also provides the early history of the site: Vaiden's family came from the country, "where they had owned the nearest ford, crossing, ferry before Jefferson even became Jefferson" (154). By the era of The Town it is "now" (the 1920s) the site of a bridge. In his capacity as County Attorney, Gavin is planning to drive up there with Chick, to help resolve the locals' "squabble over a drainage tax suit" (181) - though in the event they don't make the trip. In The Reivers, the iron bridge that now (i.e. in 1905) spans the Tallahatchie River is still new enough to be known in Yoknapatawpha as "THE Iron Bridge" (71). Previously crossing the river meant using the ferry that was first put into service by a man named Wylie, then taken over by Ballenbaugh. "Wylie's Crossing" was "the only crossing within miles" for people who wanted to travel into or out of Yoknapatawpha from or to the north, toward Memphis (72). It's definitely not definite that in Faulkner's imagination these three places are the same place. Historically, there were two major crossings at the northern boundary of the county, and a good case can be made that Faulkner distinguishes between them. But if so, the fictions don't make that distinction clear. For example, commentators have suggested, for good reason, that Faulkner's "Iron Bridge" is at the western crossing, where a real iron bridge was built (see for example Charles S. Aiken's book). Faulkner says the bridge was built at "the head of navigation" for the steamboats that once came upriver eastward from the Mississippi (72), and it the 'Indian stories' the head of navigation is probably upriver from that site - as was the historical skirmish between Forrest's Confederate troops and the Yankees, which Faulkner appropriates for "My Grandmother." What is important is that Faulkner's various texts describe the way this crossing (or these crossings) linked Jefferson to the larger world, and that the fictions represent how the ford becomes a ferry becomes an iron bridge as time passes.