Old and New in New Houlka, MS

Houlka, Mississippi, in Chickasaw County, was one of the first settlements in North Mississippi, and was the site of an Indian Agency. It thrived early, but when Colonel William Falkner (grandfather of the novelist) built his Kentucky, Ripley and Ship Island railroad through the area, the coming of rails had an adverse effect on Houlka, as it did in so many other Mississippi towns of the era. But whereas the railroads usually led to new towns with different names that eclipsed and decimated the old ones, Houlka was a little different, in that the townspeople seemed to have moved the whole town from its old site to a new one near the railroad. The odd result was what became a sort of schizophrenic town, as the post office name remained Houlka, Mississippi, but the incorporated town became known as the City of New Houlka, and that dualism remains today. Of course, nowadays, New Houlka is itself quite old, and many of its downtown buildings are in need of renovation, but the coming of the Tanglefoot recreational trail along the former railroad right of way is expected to bring at least some tourism to the area. I was especially intrigued by the Chickasaw County Schools administration building, which at first look I took to be a former courthouse, although I never knew Houlka to have ever been the county seat. The only information I could find online suggests that perhaps the building was originally a school. It is quite ornate and beautiful, and it dominates the hill just east of the downtown area.