"Tap Line Case" Summary of Blytheville, Burdette & Mississippi Railway  
  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.  

BLYTHEVILLE BURDETTE & MISSISSIPPI RIVER RAILWAY. The Three States Lumber Company erected its hardwood mill at Burdette, Arkansas, in the year 1900, and built a track 5 miles in length from that point to Wolverton Landing, on the Mississippi River, near the town of Luxora. This track was used for hauling the machinery to the mill and afterwards for the movement of logs to the mill and lumber to the landing, from which the lumber is taken by steamer up the river. Later the line of the Frisco was built in through Blytheville and Luxora, and a spur track 1-1/2 miles long was built from the mill to a connection with that trunk line at Burdette junction. The lumber company subsequently incorporated the tap line as the Blytheville, Burdette & Mississippi River Rail-Road Company, in 1906, and took $100,000 in stock and the same amount in bonds in exchange for the railway tracks and equipment. Additional stock to the amount of $40,000 has since been issued, practically all of which is in the hands of shareholders of the lumber company. The statement made in the brief is that most of the stock of the tap line is held in trust for the stockholders of the lumber company. In addition to the tracks referred to, there are three so-called branches which are apparently nothing but temporary spurs used in the logging operations of the lumber company. An extension is planned from Burdette northward to Blytheville, a town of some importance, where a connection will be effected with the Cotton Belt; and it is said that this will be for the purpose of serving the general public rather than in the interest of the mill. It will be observed, however, that if constructed the track from Burdette to Blytheville will parallel the Frisco. Moreover, the tap line as it at present exists is nowhere more than 1-1/2 miles from the line of the Frisco. It is apparent therefore that the claims it makes for future development as a carrier serving the public are without foundation, except so far as they involve dividing the traffic of that country with the Frisco. It is said that only 41 per cent of the revenue of the tap line for the year 1910 accrued on the tonnage of the Three States Lumber Company. In other words, the statement made of record is that 9,167,500 pounds of forest products and 691,612 pounds of other freight were handled for the Three States Lumber Company, for a total charge of $2,600.24, while 19,906,512 pounds of forest products were handled for others at a charge of $3,666.88, with miscellaneous freight weighing 122,525 pounds, on which the charges were $37.60. A close analysis of these figures and other, statements made of record, however, will not verify the claims made by the tap line. The principal shippers that are mentioned on the record other than the Three States Lumber Company are a small manufacturer of scythe handles, and a cooperage company, which is owned by one of the stockholders of the lumber company and obtains practically all of its raw material from the lumber company, as is admitted of record.

The equipment of the tap line consists of 4 locomotives and 19 flat cars. The lumber company owns the logging cars. There is a warehouse and platform at Burdette and a shed or station building at the river landing. The officers of the tap line receive no salaries; and the salary of the agent at Burdette, who makes out through billing, is paid by the lumber company, whose clerks keep the books of the tap line without charge. When the mills are in operation two log trains are run daily in each direction between Burdette and the woods to the westward. Trainloads of lumber are hauled from Burdette. to the connection with the Frisco as occasion requires. The service from Burdette to the river landing is irregular, but the trains meet all steam-boats. Passengers are permitted to ride on the train without charge.

For the movement of logs to the mill the tap line charges the lumber company 2 cents per 100 pounds. It receives an additional 2 cents or 3 cents per 100 pounds from the Frisco as an allowance out of the joint rates for the movement of the lumber from the mill to the Frisco. For the lumber delivered to the steamers at Wolverton Landing the tap line charges 2 cents per 100 pounds. It furnishes the cars for such shipments, whereas on traffic moving over the Frisco the car is supplied by the trunk line.

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.