322 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI Other short-run rail lines emerged throughout the region. The Pea Vine Railroad connected Dockery Plantation on the Sunflower River in Bolivar County to the river town of Rosedale. To the east in Sunflower County, the Yazoo Delta line, known as the Yellow Dog, connected the communities of Moorhead and Ruleville. The coming of the railroads had a powerful ripple effect on the region’s economy. Timber companies saw an opportunity to benefit from railroad expansion and cleared thousands of acres of land in preparation of the railroads’ arrival. Timber sales from the lands thus cleared quickly brought in windfall dollars for a rapidly expanding Mississippi timber industry. Loggers cut down cypress, walnut, tupelo, and pine trees and loaded them onto railcars for sale all across the state and the country. In 1886, the Delta Pine and Land Company was formed, selling farmland to people from the United States and around the world. This enterprise played a pivotal role in the Delta’s transformation from a wilderness to a modern cotton kingdom later in the twentieth century. The access to new farmland caught the eyes of struggling farmers in the Mississippi hill country, which led to a Delta population boom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. African American and white farmers poured into the region with hopes of taking advantage of the Delta’s rich earth. As a result of this new wave of farmers, cotton production soared in the late nineteenth century. Although the cotton market never lost its volatility, cotton plantations brought in profits that the earliest Delta settlers could not have dreamed of realizing before the Civil War. Railroads provided easier and less costly transport of cotton from Delta fields to their many commercial destinations. Easier, cheaper trade meant greater wealth for large landowners in the Delta. As a result, the expansion of cotton farming made levee construction even more urgent. Following a destructive flood in 1882, the U.S. Congress provided major help to the region by sending federal resources to help with flood control, including authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to assist local levee boards in construction. Another arm of the federal government, the U.S. Census of Agriculture, summed up the stranglehold that cotton had on the Delta. In a 1910 report, the agricultural census proclaimed “the plantation system is probably more fixed in the Mississippi Delta than in any other area of the South. The fertile soil and climatic conditions favorable for raising cotton, together with the large negro population, make the plantation the dominant form of agricultural organization in the Delta.” Railroads and cotton, in tandem, led to the creation of new towns such as Clarksdale, Cleveland, and Indianola and spurred a population boom unparalleled in the Delta’s history. From 1880 to 1930, the Delta towns and KING OF THE BLUES The rich music of Riley B. King, known as B.B. King, has its roots in the Mississippi Delta. B.B. King continues to be one of the most recognized names in the blues and music industry. B.B. King got his start in music early in life, singing in church and listening to gospel music, spirituals, and country music that are so much a part of life in the Delta. King learned to play the guitar from his cousin in Memphis and within a few years was on the radio and recording albums. King’s distinctive guitar style set him apart and continues to inspire people around the world. PHOTO BY JAY ADKINS, COURTESY OF DELTA MAGAZINE PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL B.B. KING MUSEUM The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in 2008 in B.B. King's hometown of Indianola. The museum and center commemorates King's fame and talent with artifacts and exhibits around his life of playing the blues. King was buried in the memorial garden at the museum and center after his death in 2015.