There is a lot of good things about Meridian, Mississippi! The first would be the Soule Steam Feed Works Industrial Heritage Museum, the last intact steam engine factory. The second would be Weidman’s restaurant, which we heard is the oldest restaurant in the state. Both wonderful experiences I had this past February.
Soule Steam Feed Works
Beth Elliott heard about the Soule Steam Feed Works Museum through a friend. She worked some magic and arranged a late afternoon tour for us. My husband Keith and I, Beth and her mom and dad, Kent and Jane all took the tour. Thank you Beth!
Our tour guide was Greg Hatcher, the Executive Director of the Museum. This being the last intact steam engine factory with 80% of the original furnishings made for an amazing tour. I don’t admit to understanding all the workings of steam engines, but what I saw was fascinating. A few highlights of this Meridian, Mississippi treasure included a variety of amazing engines, longest operating line drive shaft in the United States, and a way cool foundry!
Ah, the history!
The Soule family operated the Soule Steam Feed Works for 110 years under founder George W. Soule and his family. Soule has at least 25 US patents. Most of those patents were incorporated into products for sawmills that populated the south from 1885 until 1930.
The Soule company created products for sawmills. Some of those products included a variety of steam engines like the Soule rotary engine, and the Spee-d-twin engine. Another major invention was the lumber stacker.
When the last Soule to run the plant, Bob Soule was ready to retire in 2002, he decided to auction the company. Long story short, through the intervention of local businessman Jim McRae a non-profit organization was set up with Mr. Soule and the museum was born. Saving all this miraculous history for agricultural preservation buffs like me to come and enjoy!
Unlike anywhere else.
I have never been to a museum like this. You will see the real deal here. This is an industrial time capsule that allows visitors to experience how people worked in the early 20th century. Located in Meridian, Mississippi you can find out about their festivals on Facebook.
After our cool tour of the plant, we were ready for a good place to eat. Beth’s friend came through with the suggestion of the nearby Weidman’s.
The restaurant was originally established in 1870 by Felix Weidmann, a Swiss immigrant. He was a chef on a transatlantic steamship. In Meridian he established a restaurant in the Union Hotel with a counter and 4 stools. His grandson moved it to its present location on 22nd Avenue. The restaurant has now changed hands a couple of times, but the family recipes are still in play and the food and atmosphere are tops!
Peanut Butter Crocks
We had to sample the homemade peanut butter that is served in homemade crocks. Henry Weidman served this during WWII when butter was scarce. The peanut butter was awesome. Food was great.
Meridian Mississippi gets my vote as a wonderful stop along the way!