Highland Park in Meridian, MS

By Kim Madlom on April 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Adkins

The city of Meridian has long understood the importance of providing quality outdoor spaces for its citizens.

Renovated in 1908 as a premier streetcar park, Highland Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. The park's history dates back to 1889, when it was home to the Meridian Fair and Livestock Exposition. When plans for the park were under development in 1906, there was a national trend to create streetcar parks and the Meridian Railway Company worked with the city to build the facility and include an amphitheater.

Today's park features a vintage locomotive representing Meridian's strong ties to its railroading history and is home to the Highland Park Dentzel Carousel and Shelter Building, a National Historic Landmark manufactured around 1896 by Gustav Dentzel. The historic carousel is the only two-row stationary Dentzel menagerie in existence.

The park is also home to the Jimmie Rodgers Museum. The Meridian-born country legend was known most widely for his ability to yodel and was among the first country music superstars in the early 20th century. Rodgers was also known as The Father of Country Music.

In 1927, two recordings by Rodgers sold nearly half a million copies, which was impressive enough at the time to rocket him into stardom. He made a movie short, The Singing Brakeman, toured with humorist Will Rogers in a Red Cross show, and recorded a hit song, Blue Yodel #9, with a young jazz tumpeter named Louis Armstrong.

The park also includes memorials such as Lest We Forget, which honors veterans.

There's more to Highland Park than history. Amenities include an amphitheater, gazebo, greenhouse, lagoon, picnic shelters, tennis courts, a playground and fields for soccer and baseball.

Find more fun outdoor activities in Meridian, MS.

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It's staggering the quality entertainment the [MSU Riley Center] has brought to Meridian. We are fortunate to experience this here without having to travel to larger markets. Instead, we benefit from tourists coming to us.

Wink Glover, longtime Meridianite