Erwin, Tennessee: Big Mary the Elephant

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Big Mary the Elephant
Memorial to circus elephant Big Mary. She killed a trainer, and was publicly hanged for it. Latest report is the town is no longer promoting Big Mary. Report...

Visitor Tips and News About Big Mary the Elephant

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Big Mary the Elephant, Put In The Past

Cute town, but not worth getting off the highway, at least as far as an "attraction" goes -- settling for knowing these folks hung an elephant is more than enough. The town wants to put this event behind them, and the location is proof of this.

[Team Funkmonkey, 01/01/2014]

Girl on a Swing.

Big Mary the Elephant

Driving into town from the north you can park in front of the line of stores and walk to the end of the block. The "replacement" painting of the Swing Girl is on the side of the building. It is faded and chipped; and kinda creepy. There is a small garden in front of the picture. I don't know that it's true, but I told my kids that's where they buried Mary.

[David Scott, 03/03/2010]

Something is always swinging on a rope in Erwin.

Town That Hung an Elephant

The Hanging Elephant Antique store was one of the only places in Erwin, TN that actually took pride in the fact that they executed an elephant. The store is now closed. Formally there was a mural of Mary the elephant hanging by her neck on the side of the store. Now there is a little girl swinging on a rope hung by God......I can't help but feel that is some sort of inversion of the original image.

[Jacob Krejci, 01/19/2010]
Big Mary - elephant Burial Ground

I am looking for a book in my library that has info on Big Mary, who was hung in Erwin. From what I can remember, that was her third name. The other two names I believe were "Queen" and "Empress." Her name was changed after killing one or more people and then sold to another circus. That was a very common thing, sometimes the killer Elephant was a good performer, so the show would tell the officials that it was a different elephant and they would shoot a not-so-bright one instead and the killer would carry on with a different name or be sold to another show.

[Wayne Jackson, 01/10/1998]

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In the region:
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October 7, 2015

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