Combining history, agriculture and family-friendly entertainment, Casey Jones Village is a must-visit destination in Jackson that draws hundreds of thousands of people each year from around the globe.
However, the village is much more than a top tourist attraction. It also has a farm complete with a certified teaching garden, offering visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from.
Rooted in History and Heritage
Operated by husband-and-wife team Clark and Juanita Shaw, Casey Jones Village is named after famed railroad engineer Jonathan Luther “Casey” Jones, a Jackson native who passed away in a train wreck in 1900 and was immortalized in Wallace Saunders’ song, The Ballad of Casey Jones.
Along with a railroad museum dedicated to Jones’ memory, the village is home to the Brooks Shaw & Son’s Old Country Store, a former antiques museum established in 1965 by Clark’s late father, Brooks Shaw, that is now a landmark restaurant serving three traditional Southern buffets daily. It also includes an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and soda shop and a gift shop, and it features live bluegrass music on Thursday nights.
In addition, Casey Jones Village lays claim to a historic chapel, an amphitheater, an antebellum home built in 1837, a mini golf course and The Wellwood Store, which is where Brooks worked as a young boy.
“We relocated The Wellwood Store to Casey Jones Village, and it opened in 2009 as a tribute to my dad’s life,” Clark says. “It inspired the large country store we have today, and the two stores are connected, so our guests can see where we came from. We want our visitors to feel as if they are stepping back in time and escaping the pressures of the modern world. This is one way we achieve that goal.”
The Farm at Casey Jones Village is a recent addition to the property, located just steps from the restaurant and covering approximately 2 acres.
The farm includes a large vegetable garden that is the first American Heart Association Teaching Garden in West Tennessee, and its primary purpose is to teach visitors about sustainable, healthy living through agriculture. According to Juanita, the garden is all about education, community outreach and agritourism, and it is a major draw for local school groups, including members of the Southside High School FFA who come to the farm regularly to work in the garden.
“Being part of our garden has helped these kids [in the Southside High School FFA] get excited about agriculture, and we feel so fortunate to play a role in that,” Juanita says.
Those dining in the village’s restaurant also benefit from the garden’s bounty. After the vegetables are harvested, employees bring them to each table, encouraging guests to give them a try and then to visit the farm when they are finished eating.
“When it comes to farm-to-table dining, it just doesn’t get any fresher than what we offer at Casey Jones Village,” Clark says.
There’s much more for the farm on the horizon, with Clark and Juanita planning to launch the Farmers Market at Casey Jones Village in the near future, which will feature produce from at least 20 local farmers and open Saturday mornings from early May to late October.
Additionally, the farm will also include a historic barn and cotton gin, both of which are being relocated to the property soon, and will serve as a special events venue for school field trips, family reunions, company picnics and other gatherings.
“We see each historic building as a classroom,” Juanita says. “We want people to learn while they’re here.”