DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES
2022 Mysteries – solved
check out some of the mysteries that have already been solved. IF YOU CAN HELP US with additional details, please submit information below!
DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES is a multi-week series of mysteries, all centered around a common theme. If you suggest an answer, please share with us how you solved the mystery. Include your name, and we’ll give you credit on the record in the DIG archives. To keep up to date with all DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES, follow us on Instagram at @digmemphishistory!
Today marks our final mystery in the summer series! For this week’s post, we’re taking a look at another section of the old trolley line. The description attached to this photograph states, “Power lines for trolley service running in median.” This section appears to be a more residential area of town, but it’s not clear where this photograph was taken.
Can you determine where this photograph was taken? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
This mystery was solved over on our Instagram page. @paranan11 noticed the painted sign, partially visible on the building seen on the left side of the image. She was able to locate a ‘McKenney’s Grocery’ located at 553 S. Cooper Street.
Today, that spot is home to Juice Bar and Ounce of Hope (2022). The photographer was likely standing near the intersection of Vinton and Cooper, facing north.
The nearby coordinates for the image are 35.130306, -89.990528.
The title of the image above is simply, “Trolley tracks” and includes the description, “Laying of tracks for trolley system“, but where is this? What section of the trolley system is pictured here?
Using the details and buildings seen in the background of the photograph, can you determine where this photograph was taken? Please let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Several people submitted the answer to this one, both on the website and on our Instagram page. @b_m_boswell and @paranan11 both pointed to the church seen on the right side of the image.
Though the steeple was removed shortly after construction, St. Mary’s Catholic Church can still be seen in that same spot today!
That would place the photographer on Market Avenue, looking east from N. Second St. toward B. B. King Blvd: 35.151798, -90.048728.
This week’s mystery comes to us with very little descriptive information. There’s no visible text in the image, and the description in the archive only states, “Construction materials on sidewalk. — Text on front: 53“. Text on the back of the photograph indicates the print was made in Memphis at the Memphis Photo Supply Co., but was the photographer in Memphis when this photograph was taken?
Can you help us determine if this is a photo of a building in Memphis? If so, where is this? If not, do you know which city this is? Please let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Instagram user @jnctb first cracked the case on this one, noting that the building pictured looked like the Exchange Building at the intersection of N. Second St. and Madison Avenue.
A second detective submitted a similar answer through the website, further confirming, “this is the Exchange Building located on the northwest corner of Madison and Second.”
The building remains in place, so we are able to confirm some of the architectural details seen in the image. The photographer was standing near the coordinates 35.144800, -90.051380.
The description on the image above states, “Unidentified urban street. Text on front: 7/2/13”. So, is this Memphis? Based on the information found on the photograph, it’s likely the photograph was taken on July 2, 1913, but beyond that there are no further details. We don’t know what street this is or what direction we’re looking at in this image.
Can you help us determine if this street is located in Memphis? Were the businesses seen here known to be Memphis businesses in 1913? If you can crack the case, please let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
This mystery was especially challenging because we were not sure if the street pictured was even in Memphis! @sunnyfranklin and @paranan11 cracked the case, answering our suspicions on our Instagram page.
Sunny Franklin was able to confirm this is Toledo, Ohio! In their 1913 city directory, there is a livery named A L Hofman’s located at 431-439 N. St. Clair Street. The 1913 directory also shows Union Paper Box Co. at 429-431 St Clair, which is likely the ‘Paper Boxes’ sign seen in the image.
Today this would be near where N. St. Clair St. intersects with Jackson Street. The photographer is looking southwest down St. Clair toward Adams. We can still see the large building on the right when viewing the Google Street View images! This would place the photographer near 41.653593, -83.532836.
The description on the image above states, “Laying of tracks for trolley system on Main St.”, but there’s no further information specifying where along Main Street this photographer was standing. The signs on the buildings might give some clues as to what intersection is pictured here.
Can you help us locate which intersection is pictured here? Which direction is the photographer facing? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Many detectives submitted the correct answer to this one! K. Taylor and Joseph Hoyle both honed in on The Sherron Shoe Company, noting that it was once located at 78 South Main, which would place our location at the SE corner of Main and Union Avenue.
On our Instagram page, @sandytn, @natdnew @deltaarkieboi85 all further confirmed the location of the photograph as near the corner of Main and Union, facing north. @natdnew also pointed out that we can see the Washburn building, which is still standing today.
An anonymous submission also pointed out that the tall building seen in the background is 10 S. Main. All of these details place our photograph near the coordinates 35.143056, -90.053683.
The photograph above is titled, “Urban Renewal on Beale” and depicts buildings possibly in the initial stages of deconstruction. It appears that the photographer may have been looking at the backside of buildings that face Beale Street, but we do not have any geographic information, aside from ‘Beale’.
Can you help us determine what block of Beale Street is shown in this image? Do you know the address? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
We received a few submissions solving this mystery. Most people, like Glenn Bandy and Patrick Tarpley, honed in on the tall white/cream building in the background, nothing that it looked like 152 Beale (Club 152).
Using Google Maps’ street view feature, a couple of detectives pointed out that this view matches the view from the alley behind Tater Red’s at 153 Beale.
This places our photographer around 35.139393, -90.053198.
This week’s photograph has been an ongoing challenge. Images with buildings are often easier to identify than some of our other mysteries, but the age of the photograph and the lack of notable details makes this one difficult. The description states, “furniture outside of homes on Second Street. Caption on bottom of photo reads, ‘4-3-12 North 2nd Lower floors flooded’.”
Can you help us locate where this building was on North 2nd St. in 1912? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Glenn Bandy solved this mystery by using our access to the Commercial Appeal Archive. Taking the clue 4-3-12, he pulled up the newspapers from that period of time and found articles and images detailing exactly what area of N. 2nd St. flooded in that week of 1912.
The front page on April 5, 1912 included a map showing the flooded area: between the L&N Railroad on the south and Bayou Gayoso on the north, the flooding was primarily around N. 2nd St. and Mill St. – the 4000-500 block of N. 2nd.
This places our photographer around 35.158088, -90.046188.
This week’s mystery photograph was taken in May of 1938. The only information we know is that it was taken somewhere along Southern Avenue, during a period of construction work. It’s possible the construction project was significant enough to be covered in the Commercial Appeal, but the possibility has not been researched.
Can you help us locate the area of Southern Avenue pictured here? Do you recognize any identifying details in the photograph? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Glenn Bandy also solved this mystery after browsing the Commercial Appeal Archive. Taking the clue 5/38 that was captioned on the back of the photograph, he found an article in a May 1938 issue of the newspaper detailing the WPA construction work being done along Southern Avenue.
The last page on May 24, 1912 includes the following description of construction work being done: “Concrete culvert over the Country Club Bayou along Southern Avenue west of Greet will be finished this week. WPA crews will continue work along the same stream south of the Southern Railroad toward Spottswood and Carnes.”
This places our photographer around 35.115378, -89.956628.
This photograph contains a bit more descriptive detail than some of our other mystery images. Based on notes on the back of the photograph, we know this photo was taken on April 30, 1936. The writing on the back also indicates it is “Watkins before extension”, which usually hints that the photograph was taken as documentation prior to a construction project.
Using the clues provided by the photographer notes, can you help us determine which area of Watkins is pictured here? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Glenn Bandy came through again, solving this mystery by using the Commercial Appeal Archive. Because the photograph included a note stating, “April 30, 1936 Watkins before extension”, he browsed the Commercial Appeal for that day, and found an article discussing the expansion.
The article on page 12 includes the following description of the work being done: “When completed, the street will extend from Vollintine to Chelsea, connecting the Payne Street”.
Using the 1938 Aerial Map from Historic Shelby County, we can get a general idea of the type of structures that were in place along Watkins in the mid-1930s. It appears the most likely spot would be along the proposed expansion, looking south towards Vollintine.
This places our photographer around 35.166640 -90.010321.
Today’s mystery photograph captures a stretch of S. Third Street, but it’s not clear where the photographer was standing or what direction the camera is facing. We can see what appears to be an overpass in the distance, but not much else in terms of notable identifying information. The description on the record states, “View of S. Third Street from Municipal Reference Library.”
Can you help us determine what area of S. Third Street is pictured here? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
A couple of people successfully located this image. Two anonymous detectives pointed to the area of Third Street and South Parkway, facing north towards Gaston Park.
You can see the alternate view from the same bridge in Digital ID Street0362.
This places our photographer around 35.108217, -90.055377.
DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES is back! Today we’re kicking off our winter season of mysteries and diving back into the popular Memphis Streetscapes Collection. This collection was the inspiration for the initial DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES game back in 2020. At the time, the collection contained over one hundred photographs that were missing geographic data. Today, thanks to your help, there are not as many “mystery” images… but there are still few! Each week, we’ll be sharing one item from the collection to see if you can help us pinpoint where the photographer was standing when the photograph was snapped.
The description on the image above states, “Photo of the Jackson Avenue overpass in 1935.” There are multiple photos of Jackson Avenue in our collection, including several showing overpasses located in different spots along the avenue.
Can you help us locate which overpass is pictured here? Which direction is the photographer facing? Let us know in the comments box or click ‘Contact Us’ on DIG Memphis to provide any additional details you may know.
Glenn Bandy cracked the case on this mystery. As he noted, “the trees on the right are in National Cemetery; [it’s] the only overpass on Jackson that has trees.”
That would mean this photograph was taken on the east end of Jackson, looking east.
The photographer was standing around 35.174083, -89.941238.