Rich in history, Horn Lake developed from two small settlements, the nostalgically named “Little Virginia” and “Forks of the Horn,” referring to a local creek. Horn Lake’s agricultural economy was first boosted by the coming of the Memphis to Grenada Railway, now Illinois Central. The first depot, built in 1856, three years after the town’s first post office, received both passengers and freight destined for a horn-shaped lake and recreational area three miles to the west. Daily, the hotel there sent a horse-drawn dray to pick up rail passengers and supplies, the latter boldly labeled “HORN LAKE.” Conductors’ calls, “All out for HORN LAKE” brought two results: a scramble to load the dray, and a permanent name for the railroad station and its surrounding area.
Surviving the Civil War, two World Wars, and the Great Depression as a rural community was a great accomplishment. Horn Lake took special pride in Gayoso Farms (1910-1950), a unique operation known for fine hogs and cattle, and its Golden Guernsey milk supplied to Memphis hotels. The first industrial development and the beginning of change came around 1960, and the city incorporated March 1, 1973. Tremendous economic and cultural growth has followed, bringing modern streets, shopping centers, libraries, parks, recreational facilities, schools, and churches to accommodate the population growth. The trains no longer stop, but Horn Lake salutes ICRR for the role it has played in this area’s history.