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Engines of RedemptionRailroads and the Reconstruction of Capitalism in the New South$
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R. Scott Jr. Huffard

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652818

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652818.001.0001

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Flight of the Yellow-Winged Monster

Flight of the Yellow-Winged Monster

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter Four Flight of the Yellow-Winged Monster
Source:
Engines of Redemption
Author(s):

R. Scott Huffard Jr.

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652818.003.0005

This chapter discusses how railroads became a vector for the spread of yellow fever in a series of epidemics. It focuses first on a devastating outbreak that spread north from New Orleans in 1878 along rail corridors. As southerners realized that railroads were spreading contagion, and as railroad companies refused to halt or shutdown traffic, conflicts between small towns and railroad companies emerged. The next major outbreak in the region, in 1888 in Jacksonville, witnessed widespread “shotgun quarantines,” in which local vigilantes tied up rail traffic. In 1897, Mississippi citizens reacted to an outbreak with violence against railroad infrastructure. Federal and state health officials tried to create boards of health and institute rational quarantine policies but their ultimate failure to control shotgun quarantines reflected a lack of trust in railroad companies and regional anxieties over new railroad connections and circulation. Yellow fever scares like this continued until Walter Reed’s discovery that the mosquito transmitted the disease and the last major outbreak in the region was in 1905.

Keywords:   Yellow Fever, epidemics, Quarantine, Shotgun quarantine, New Orleans, Mississippi, Florida, Railroads, Segregation

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