The train town of Possum Ridge has been a holiday tradition in the capital city for nearly forty years. Its running trains and detailed model buildings have delighted both children and adults every December. This series explores the history of the town and the stories behind its buildings as related to us by Lucky Osborne, who built most of the town himself. Osborne continues to volunteer his time to maintain the town and read from “A Special Visitor Comes to Possum Ridge,” the children’s book inspired by the exhibit.

Walter's Caboose in Possum Ridge (From the prop collection of the Museum Division, MDAH)

Walter's Caboose in Possum Ridge (From the prop collection of the Museum Division, MDAH)

Walter Hazzlerigg of Vicksburg ran the trains at Possum Ridge for over twenty years. For a time, he was the only engineer staffing the exhibit and he worked all day. He later moved to Texas and ran the trains at the local zoo, but every year, he took his vacation time and returned to Jackson to run the trains.

The last time he was here, Hazzlerigg told Osborne that he would be retiring soon and planned to purchase a caboose in which to live. He also planned to build a model train shop onto the caboose. He passed away shortly thereafter, and Osborne decided that Walter would have his caboose after all. So he built Walter’s Caboose with the train shop on the back and a figure of Walter on the front porch. There is also a statue of the dedicated engineer in Possum Park.

The model train town of Possum Ridge and historic Christmas trees and toys are on display Monday, noon–4:30 p.m., Tuesday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. through December 22 on the first floor of the William F. Winter Archives and History Building at the corner of North and Amite streets in Jackson. Tours for school groups are available by reservation Tuesday–Friday, December 6–16, 9 a.m.–noon. For information call 601-576-6800.