Warren, Hinds to recognize part of 80 for ‘Sugarman’

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Warren and Hinds counties will name parts of U.S. 80 on either side of the Big Black River after the man credited with saving lives after the 1939 Clear Creek bridge disaster.

Warren County supervisors on Monday agreed with its E-911 Commission and approved in principle recognizing a stretch between Warriors Trail and the county line as Andrew “Sugarman” Daniel Memorial Highway. The move follows similar intentions of Hinds County supervisors to do likewise on part of 80 between Smith Station Road and Highway 80 West.

Daniel, a black laborer from Edwards, is the subject of a new book by Clinton resident Joedda Gore that chronicles the events of the Clear Creek bridge disaster of March 29, 1939. That night, the bridge over the creek washed out after a heavy rainstorm. Sixteen people died, but Daniel, who rushed to the scene when he heard the bridge had collapsed, hooked cables to vehicles and pulled several bodies out of the water. A precise number of people he single-handedly rescued isn’t known.

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The recognition of 80 for Daniel is similar to other “memorial highways” along federal and state highways in Mississippi, including Interstate 55 in Copiah County for blues legend Robert Johnson and intermittent parts of U.S. 49 for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, to name two examples.

Financing a physical sign to mark the memorial highway is trickier for county-maintained roadways. Warren County has no revenue source to tap legally besides 911 fees, county officials have said.

Sheriff Martin Pace, who is working with a group that includes Gore and several Edwards residents on a day of events for the 75th anniversary of the disaster, told the county board he’d exhaust several avenues to make the roadway commemoration a reality.

“I’ll either pay for the sign out of my pocket or the committee in Edwards will pay for the sign,” Pace said. “We’ll get it funded.”

Part of the events on March 29 involves recording any stories from people who knew Daniel, a motorcade from Edwards to the crash site and the laying of a wreath on the bridge, said Jean White, town clerk in Edwards and part of the committee.

For questions or more about the upcoming anniversary commemoration, contact Edwards City Hall at 601-852-5461.