Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 53

$8,000 and was a major draw. But Johnson
City and Rogersville, scheduled to host the
circus later in the week, had banned Mary
from their towns, and public opinion was
turning fast. Word was that a vigilante
group from Kingsport was coming armed
with a relic Civil War cannon to kill Mary
if Charlie Sparks wouldn't do it himself.
So the next day, in Erwin, Mary the Elephant was hung from a 100-ton Clinchfield Railroad crane car before an audience of, they say, three thousand. And
then she was buried in a massive, handdug grave somewhere in the railyard, unmarked to this day.

I meet Jamie Rice in her Town Hall office. She's the president of RISE Erwin,
and she has her hands full: tomorrow is
the Great Outdoors Festival, and they're
expecting thousands.
RISE Erwin was born a few years back,
when CSX left town and the railyard fell silent. "Four hundred jobs, gone. The town
was in mourning," Rice says. "We had to
ask ourselves, 'who are we?' We weren't
a railroad town any longer, and we were
tired of having the stigma as the town that
hung the elephant. We knew we had to

EVERYONE LOVES A SCANDAL:
MARY IN THE PRESS

When we first did a story on Mary, in 1997, there wasn't much to be found about
the elephant's tragic demise. There was Charles Price's short book, "The Day They
Hung the Elephant," and the historic materials in the Archives of Appalachia at East
Tennessee State University.
Today, if you google some variation of "Hanging Mary the Elephant," you'll be
overwhelmed by hundreds of results. Among them:
* Mary's been written about in the Daily Mail. The New York Daily News.
* NPR's "Snap Judgment" did a Mary skit.
* Mary is on Pinterest.
* She's been alluded to by bestselling novelists Sharyn McCrumb and
Jodi Picoult.
* Matthew Carlton's play, "Hanging Mary," won first place in the 2012 Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights competition.
* There's even been a ballad written about Mary, by Asheville songwriter
Chuck Brodsky.
* Mary is also one of two elephants written about in Mike Jaynes's book "Elephants Among Us: Two Performing Elephants in 20th-Century America."
The original Blue Ridge Country article is cited as a reference for much of what's
been published since it appeared in 1997. Let's hope that the new story of Erwin
and its Elephant Revival gets equal attention. -JV

create a new identity for ourselves."
The hundredth anniversary of Mary's
hanging was looming, and the members
of RISE Erwin came up with a creative idea.

Reaching out to the Elephant Sanctuary in
Hohenwald, Tennessee-one of only two
certified sanctuaries in America-they offered to do a fundraiser for the sanctuary

JULY/AUGUST 2018

53



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 13
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 37
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 58
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 63
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 65
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 130
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover4
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