Benchmark Coach & RV Park in Meridian MS

If you find yourself passing through or needing to stay in Meridian Mississippi for a bit, you won’t go wrong by stopping at Benchmark Coach & RV Park in Marion (Facebook).

The park is surrounded by trees and is small by most standards but well kept.  It’s mowed regularly and the washroom and showers are clean and functional. The owner, Randy Spitzkeit is friendly and helpful.

We moved a table over after the picture was taken

The site we were in was plenty large enough for our 40′ class A and had both a concrete pad for the coach and gravel area for the toad with full hookups and 30/50 Amp power. There aren’t enough tables for all the sites but if you want one, Randy will likely give the ok to move one from an empty site.

The surrounding trees didn’t block the satellite signal from Dish. There’s not a lot we watch on satellite but if possible, we prefer to get local channels that way since we don’t have to futz with the OTA antenna.

Camp wifi is what you’d expect.  Available but often overloaded.  You might be able to do simple browsing and email during the day but at night you can forget doing anything once people get home and start streaming video.

Cell signal with ATT and Google Fi is weak so bring a booster if you need a strong connection to the internet or cell network. We were testing out a new router from OTA Mobile (ATT) and had no problems getting and staying online when using our WeBoost Drive 4G-X OTR.

The camp itself isn’t great for walking dogs. The roadways are all gravel and the field at the East end does have ticks. Make sure your dogs have their treatments and check them before getting back into your RV if you walk them down there.

To the point, without being obnoxious

They have a nice dog park though, which is a large grassy area but be aware that if it’s rained recently there will probably be some standing water.

Better for walking your dog nearby will be Marion Dr. where there isn’t a lot of traffic and most of the residents are friendly. There are a couple of dogs along the way but most are restrained, though exceptionally barky, or are off leash and harmless. I’m talking to you, Mr. Dachsund.

You’ll also find a nursery and the McInnis Pottery studio at the South bend of the street across a private railroad crossing.

A crossing that’s quite pretty at blue and golden hours.

We stayed for nearly two weeks and found it quite comfortable (excepting some minor problems we had with our AC). There were a good number of people that stayed only a week or even just a night and several Tiffins came through on their way to or from Red Bay, which is where we were headed after finishing up in Meridian.

Benchmark from the roof

For more pictures and larger versions of those above, head over here.

Here’s also some video of the park and walk along Marion Dr.

While you’re in the area, give the Dentzel carousel, Temple Theater, Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum (Soule Steamworks), Captain’s Amish Store and Sciple’s Mill a visit.

Ride the Dentzel Carousel in Meridian MS

If you find yourself in Meridian, Mississippi you’ll see pretty carousel horses around town – in front of shops, the train station, City Hall – all over. Plenty of towns have painted statuary animals, like the buffalo in Custer, SD and cats in Catskills, NY, but Meridian actually has a working carousel. It’s not a recent thing dreamed up by a tourism bureau, either. The Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park is over a century old, and the best part is you can still ride it. Whee!

Gustav Dentzel built the grand old carousel in 1896 for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. The city of Meridian was a happening place in 1909, full of culture and commerce, when they bought the carousel and had it installed in its own special house, made from a Dentzel blueprint. Generations have grown up riding the carousel horses at birthday parties and on happy summer days just ’cause. In 1977 the carousel, Carousel House, and Highland Park were placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and they became National Historic Landmarks in 1986. Highland Park, with its gazebos, duck pond, swimming pool, and Jimmie Rodgers museum, is worth a stroll, remembering the gentlemen in suits and ladies wearing long dresses and feathered hats who used to promenade along the paths when the Queen City enjoyed prosperity.

Follow this link above for more information on the carousel and when it’s open as well as the Wikipedia and InYourState pages.

For more pictures of the carousel 110 years after it arrived in Meridian, head over here.

While you’re in Meridian, check out the shrimp and grits at Weidmann’s or a refreshing salad at the Harvest Grill. The Soulé Steam Feed Works is pretty awesome if you have time for a tour, and the belt-driven machines look a whole lot like the carousel’s works. If you only have a few minutes on a weekend afternoon or a summer day when the carousel is open, you gotta ride the horses – or the antelope, or even the lion.

James Orland “Bud” Hasty

His family called him Bud, but he gave J. Orland Hasty to the city directory man. The oldest boy and second child of ten, Orland was born in 1886 in Kemper County, Mississippi. By 1900 his parents, James Scott Hasty and Mattie Ann Watkins, had moved their eight children across the county line to Daleville, Lauderdale, Mississippi. Orland was still in school at age 14, although his 16 year old sister Onie was working in a general store. Two years later the family moved to Meridian and got a house on Poplar Springs Drive, and the father went to work for the A. Gressett Music House. Orland gained two more sisters in 1903 and 1908, but he lost his baby brother Telius Algier to measles in 1904.

In 1907 Orland married Janie Clark, and in 1908 he appeared in the Meridian city directory as a harness maker for the Threefoot Brothers & Co. During that time a photographer named Hardt took this photo.

Orland in the 1908 Meridian city directory

Orland and Janie had no children. In December 1910 he died of tuberculosis at age 24.

The Flying Keys

If you Google “Flying Keys” today, you’re more likely to get references to a certain wizarding world.  Back in 1935, however, the Flying Keys were famous aviator brothers who made a record-breaking flight of 23 days over Meridian, MS and worked out a way of refueling in the air without setting their plane on fire.  Twenty years later, it seems they displayed the Ole Miss at Meridian’s Key Field one last time before flying her to Washington D.C. and turning her over to the Smithsonian.  My dad was on hand in 1955 and snapped these photos.

Key Bros Ole Miss airplane 1955 04

Key Bros Ole Miss airplane 1955 05

Thanks to Meridian residents who remember these folks, I can identify a few.  The man in the dark suit below, second from the right, was then the Mississippi Attorney General James P. Coleman (later Governor).  Al Key appears in his military uniform, and his brother Fred Key is the tall man beside Al, holding a hat.

Key Bros Ole Miss airplane and dignitaries 1955 01

Below, from left to right are:  Senator John Stennis, Congressman Jamie L. Whitten, unknown 1, Fred Key, Attorney General James P. Coleman, Al Key, unknown 2, unknown 3.

Key Bros Ole Miss airplane and dignitaries 1955 03