Mississippi State and railroads are uniquely linked. Generations of students arrived on the Starkville campus traveling by steam-powered trains that brought them from the hamlets and towns of Mississippi. At the time of its founding in 1878, Mississippi A&M's location was determined, in part, because of its proximity to the Mobile and Ohio rail line.
That line crossed the campus, depositing thousands of students over the years at a depot that now is home to the John C. Stennis Institute of Government. The history-and part of the rail line itself-are preserved in the present-day Junction.
Original train rails are embedded in the Junction walkway at three locations. In addition, design of the Cullis Wade Depot complex, including the Barnes & Noble bookstore, pays homage to the original railway depot that served what would become Mississippi State University.
As rail travel gave way to automobiles, the streets crisscrossing the green space now known as the Junction were called "Malfunction Junction" by succeeding generations. In 2005, students who proposed a campus gathering space suggested it be named "The Junction" to recognize both the railway history and the congestion of roadways that followed.
The Junction quickly has become a center of tailgating, camaraderie and activity during home football games.
The Junction is anchored on the south and east entrances by cast bronze statues of Bully, the university's English bulldog mascot. Sculpted by noted artist Edmond Shumpert, the bronze representation is a life-sized model of TaTonka Gold, who served as Bully XIX from 2000-09. He was replaced by Champ in 2010, the beloved bulldog now seen on the sidelines of every MSU home football game. While the Junction statues were being sculpted, another bronze Bully, now located outside Colvard Student Union, was on loan from Student Affairs.
One of the most popular traditions today is the Dawg Walk, a pre-game walk through the center of the Junction by the MSU football team, led by the Famous Maroon Band and its drum line. For each home game, thousands enjoy the game-day experience in a space that has become a signature landmark at Mississippi State.
Past student Association President Blake Jeter speaks for all students when he describes this unique space as "the center of school spirit. It ties together three generations of history, from the trains bringing our first students to school, to Malfunction Junction, and finally to tailgating. Its setting now serves to unify our campus behind our Bulldogs on Saturdays in the fall. It is the true essence of the game-day atmosphere that ties every student together and from every State generation."
The Junction opens at 5 p.m. the day before each home game and closes at midnight daily. The opening will be signaled by the sounding of "Hail State".
Pets are prohibited on campus on game day.
Unloading is permitted adjacent to the curb around the Junction. All items should be unloaded to the ground and stacked alongside the curb; the vehicle then should be relocated to a designated parking area. A maximum of five minutes will be allotted for unloading each vehicle.
No wheeled vehicles or trailers of any type are permitted to be driven or parked in the Junction or in any other campus picnic area. (A wheeled vehicle is anything that has to be trailered or towed or operates on its own power).
Pop-up tents without ropes or stakes (12-feet-by-12-feet or smaller) are permitted.
Golf carts are not permitted except for University carts used for safety and enforcement.
All picnic zone rules apply to the Junction, as well as to all other campus picnic areas.
- Picnic Zone Information and Rules -
• Pets are prohibited on campus on game day.
• Most campus buildings will be locked, but modular restroom facilities will be available at designated areas.
• Picnic areas are available after 5 p.m. on the day before a weekend or holiday game, or five hours before the start of a game that occurs on a weekday.
• No wheeled vehicles or trailers are permitted in picnic areas. (A wheeled vehicle is anything that has to be trailered or towed or operates on its own power).
• Garbage should be sealed in plastic bags and left for collection.
• The university will follow local ordinances and state laws regarding alcohol.
• Charcoal grills are allowed, but you must dispose of your charcoal in a responsible manner.
• Generators are allowed, but your neighbors would prefer those that are battery-operated (inverters).
• Only small tents (12-by-12 feet maximum) may be erected in picnic areas. Larger tents that require staking must be rented from MSU Event Services (662-325-3228) and erected by university staff in permitted areas only.
• Tents may be erected no earlier than 5 p.m. on the day before the game. Tents not rented from the university must be removed by 7 a.m. the day after the game.
• Picnic areas must be cleared by 7 a.m. the day following the game.
• Connection to university utility systems is strictly prohibited.
• Merchandise sales and vending operations are prohibited unless sponsored by the University.
Submit Your Photos From The Junction On Facebook!
Gameday at Mississippi State isn't just about first downs and tackles, it's about the whole experience. From dawn to dusk, activity surrounding Game Day is what makes Bulldog football so exciting and inviting. Now, we want you to share what makes this day such a special event for you, your family, group or organization.
We welcome photos that highlight your MSU Gameday activities. Whether it's tailgating in the Junction, ringing that cowbell you've had for 20 years or catching your three-year-old with MSU ice cream all over his face, we'd love for you to share the family spirit of Gameday.
To submit your photos, go to www.facebook.com/msstate and post them on the "Wall." Please remember this site is monitored, so use good judgment when posting photos. Inappropriate material will be removed.