"Tap Line Case" Summary of Arkansas & Gulf Railroad  
  Abstracted from "Tap Line Case", published in Decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission, 23 I.C.C. 277, 23 I.C.C. 549, and in Decisions of the United States Supreme Court, 234 U.S. 1.  

ARKANSAS & GULF RAILROAD. The Kimball Lumber & Manufacturing Company is unincorporated and is owned largely, if not entirely, by Mr. Phin Kimball. The tap line of the company is incorporated as the Arkansas & Gulf Railway. It extends from Kimball, in the state of Arkansas, across the state line to Laark, in the state of Louisiana, a distance of seven miles. Kim-ball is not a town and is now even without a station, one built by the Iron Mountain having been destroyed by fire. It is simply a point of interchange between the tap line and the Iron Mountain. Laark is a company town owned by Mr. Kimball. There is a post office and Mr. Kimball is the postmaster. There are about three miles of logging spurs extending into the 35,000 or 40,000 acres. of timber there owned by Mr. Kimball. The tap line was incorporated in 1905, but no capital stock has been issued. It has a bookkeeper, timekeeper, an agent at Laark, " and a lady accountant at St. Louis." There are no stations or station buildings, and the agent at Laark is also in the company's store at Laark owned by Mr. Kimball. Upon inquiry it appears that Mr. Kimball understood that he owned the tap line, but that he "has a few local partners who own between $300 and $460 in the investment." Automatic couplers are not used on the logging cars, because the road is so rough they will not stay coupled. Passengers are carried between Kimball and Laark upon a motor car; it also takes the mail. There are no passenger tickets, fares being collected in cash. This traffic does not seem to be covered by a lawful tariff, although as the trap line crosses the boundary line between the two states it is necessarily interstate traffic. There is no development in the surrounding country, such farms as formerly existed there having been abandoned, and there is no traffic to speak of except that of the lumber company. The present source of the outside traffic of the tap line is thus described by Mr. Kimball in a letter filed in lieu of a brief:

I have designated by writing the word "Ranch " on the map where residents live, which you will note are six-this is all-and these six will not average 25 acres each, and doubt if 15 acres each of cultivated lands. They have hogs and cattle that run " wild " in the forest, free of cost, and that is the cause of the " clearings " at those points.

The mill is at Laark, and the tap line enters a charge of $1.50 per car for hauling the logs from the several spurs to the mill. During the year 1909 it hauled 3,000,000 feet of logs from the forests near Kimball. For hauling the manufactured lumber back from Laark to Kimball the Iron Mountain allows the tap line from 2 to 3 cents a hundred pounds, but as the rate on lumber. from Laark is 1 cent higher than the rate from Kimball the net amount accruing to the tap line is 1 and 2 cents. Although Mr. Kimball is president and traffic manager of the tap line, he receives no salary from it, but does enjoy free transportation over the trunk lines, and uses passes when traveling on the business of his lumber company.

A reading of the testimony of this witness does not give an adequate impression of the humor with which he offered it, or the amusement with which it was heard by those present. Rudimentary as was his effort to give a legal form and appearance to the separation of the tap line from his lumber company, his case does not differ substantially in that respect from many other instances on the record. Many of the Arkansas tap lines are chartered with the health resort known as Hot Springs as a terminus, but none had reached that point at the date of the hearing, nor was any prospect shown by any tap line of such a fulfillment at any time in the future of its charter powers. Mr. Kimball, in a letter addressed to the Commission after the hearing, explains the future prospects of his railroad in this wise:

As I have before stated, The Arkansas & Gulf Railroad is going to be built somewhere—either south, east, or northwest, or likely both. It was started with that full intention, and was stopped because railroad building was stopped in that section generally, and it now needs help, more than ever, and not a "knock." Please help me boost it.

While this seems somewhat indefinite it is in fact no less definite than are the plans for future extensions put forth by many others.

The Arkansas & Gulf tap line differs from the great majority in that the mill was not built on the tracks of the trunk line but 7 miles away in the forest, and the manufactured lumber is therefore hauled by the tap line for that distance. Mr. Kimball explains the location of the mill by saying that while it is a costly enterprise to build a manufacturing plant in the woods away from the main line and he could have saved thousands of dollars by building it on the tracks of the Iron Mountain, he always thought the railroad " was the best part of the proposition."

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections, additions, and contributions of new material.