Erwin, Tennessee: Big Mary the Elephant

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Big Mary the Elephant

Circus elephant Big Mary killed a trainer, and was publicly hanged for it. Report...

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Mural is gone.

Hanged Elephant

The painting is no longer there. We walked up and down town and could not find it. We stopped in at the local newspaper office and inquired about it. The editor said that it had been painted over and the paper was planning a special edition for next year, which would be the 100th anniversary.

[Shawn Griffith, 10/11/2015]

The painting (a mural) was of a little girl on a swing held by the hand of God, which was painted over a mural of the hanged elephant. Erwin has apparently divested itself of its last once-removed reminder of its elephant-hanging past -- but you can still buy copies of the paperback, "The Day They Hung the Elephant," in East Tennessee's better gift shops.

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]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Photo-Op PilloryPhoto-Op Pillory, Jonesborough, TN - 11 mi.
Junaluska and the Arch of FriendshipJunaluska and the Arch of Friendship, Johnson City, TN - 13 mi.
Born in a Boneyard: First Lady Eliza JohnsonBorn in a Boneyard: First Lady Eliza Johnson, Telford, TN - 11 mi.
In the region:
Bronze Andrew Johnson, Greeneville, TN - 23 mi.

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