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


This Tallahatchie River crossing has four different labels in the 4 texts it appears in. 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 (689) - which explains why in 1864 it would have enough military importance to be the site of a battle which, unlike the battle at 'Harrykin Creek' in the story's title, actually took place. In The Reivers, the iron bridge that spans the Tallahatchie River in 1905 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). In The Town it's two decades later and this bridge is at a place called "Wyott's Crossing." A passage describing Vaiden Wyott's origins 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). 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 map in William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape, 34). 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.

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Tallahatchie Crossing|Iron Bridge|Wyott's Crossing|Wyliesport|Wylie's Crossing
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Tallahatchie Crossing|Iron Bridge|Wyott's Crossing|Wyliesport|Wylie's Crossing