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There is no doubt that in 1916 a five-ton circus elephant was lynched from a 100-ton Clinchfield railroad crane car in the little town of Erwin, Tennessee. The details of the execution and the tragic events leading up to it, however, are clouded in nearly a century of oral tradition. From one retelling to the next, facts are distorted and embellished; legend, instead of truth, is often accepted as fact. This book is an attempt to bring together all the known facts about the hanging and to till in with educated guesses the missing parts of the puzzle. The bizarre story of the hanging of Mary the elephant begins in St. Paul, Virginia, where Sparks World Famous Shows stopped for a one-day stand. The story ends in Erwin, three days later. Between these little towns ran the shiny twin rails of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad (popularly known as "The Ciinchfield"). The Clinchfield is an indispensable prop in the story of Mary and those people whose lives she touched.