"Tap Line Case" Summary of Blytheville, Leachville & Arkansas Southern 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.  

BLYTHEVILLE LEACHVILLE & ARKANSAS SOUTHERN RAILROAD. The precise relation between the Blytheville, Leachville & Arkansas Southern Railroad Company and the Chicago Mill & Lumber Company is not disclosed of record; but there is a community of interest which amounts to a domination, if not full ownership of the tap line by the lumber company. Moreover, the tap line is operated primarily as a facility for bringing logs to the mill of the lumber company, which is in the vicinity of Blytheville, Ark., at a point known as Glenco, and has a capacity of 75,000 feet per day. The rails of the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern extend through the plant inclosure.

The Blytheville, Leachville & Arkansas Southern Railroad Company is described on the brief as operating 52 miles of road, ex-tending from Blytheville, Ark., through Arbyrd, Mo., to Shaw, Ark. Its annual report for the year 1910, however, shows an aggregate of 7 miles of track owned; and the report for 1911 shows 19.11 miles, all in the state of Arkansas. It, in fact, owns and operates a main track running northward from a point in the timber, known as Shaw, for about 17 miles to Leachville. This track was constructed on a survey made for a proposed extension of the Frisco, which terminates at Leachville, where it meets the east and west lines of the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern. From Leachville the tap line enjoys trackage rights over the Frisco, crossing the state line into Missouri, a distance of 8 miles, to Arbyrd. From Arbyrd it has trackage rights eastward over the Paragould Southeastern Railway, a part of the Cotton Belt Route, for 22 miles, again crossing the state line to Chickasawba. From that point it has tracks extending to the mill at Glenco and to connections with the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern and Frisco railroads at Littleton and Blytheville. The length of these tracks aggregates 2-1/2 miles. It therefore will be seen that the tap line owns two sections of track, one reaching the timber south of Leachville and the other in the vicinity of the mill; and that these tracks are connected by means of running rights over the trunk lines. There is a three-party con-tract between the tap line, the Frisco, and the Paragould South-eastern which restricts the trackage privilege to the operation of freight trains on which the tap line transports no freight " except that which originates on its own rails and is destined to points on its own rails." The agreement names a wheelage charge of 50 cents per train-mile, in addition to which it provides for the payment to the trunk lines of 95 per cent of the gross charges earned by the tap line on all freight hauled over the tracks in question except logs and other forest products in the rough. The plain intention of the contract, therefore, seems to be to restrict the trackage rights enjoyed by the tap line to the movement of forest products.

The tap line was incorporated in May, 1908, and took over tracks built and owned by the Chicago Mill & Lumber Company in the vicinity of Glenco and 5 miles of track extending south from Leachville. It also acquired from the lumber company 10 miles of track and right of way extending south and west from a point called Big Lake on the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern. This track was promptly abandoned and the rails used in extending the line south of Leachville, the lumber company exchanging 10 miles of new right of way south of Leachville for the 10 miles south of Big Lake.

It is said that an extension of the tap line is contemplated south-ward to Truman, a point on the Frisco's line from Memphis to Kansas City, where a large veneer and sawmill plant is under construction, which is expected to furnish a considerable tonnage moving to Cairo. Other large claims are made of outside traffic now existing or in future prospect. It is admitted, however, that during the 10 months ending October 31, 1910, 96.6 per cent of the entire tonnage of the tap line was furnished by the Chicago Mill & Lumber Company. On the brief it is claimed that during a later period the out-side tonnage increased 131 per cent; but this would indicate the traffic in which the lumber company had no interest as less than 10 per cent.

The equipment consists of 6 locomotives, one of which is out of service, 86 flat cars, 2 cabooses, 1 box and 2 coal cars. It has a track scale at the mill, and one of its employees is a sworn weighmaster of the weighing and inspection bureau. It has 3 train crews and 27 sectionmen. The only station building is a joint depot at Leachville. It operates a " passenger service " over the track from Leachville to Shaw, with " four trains daily " that meet the trains of the trunk lines; but its passenger earnings for the fiscal year 1911, as reported to the Commission, were but $1,181.37; its only passenger equipment shown of record is two cabooses. The miscellaneous freight shown on its report for that year as originating on its line was 462 tons of grain and hay and 132 tons of merchandise, and the only inbound traffic was 237 tons of bituminous coal. The volume of forest products for the same year aggregated 163,357 tons, of which 30,548 tons was lumber. There are said to be several independent lumber companies that have mills along the main track south of Leachville, but the traffic which they give the tap line is apparently inconsiderable, although not stated of record. It may be well to explain that this general territory is honeycombed with the tracks of tap lines already constructed or proposed to be extended.

Here we have another tap line owning two separate pieces of track widely separated, which are connected under trackage rights over trunk lines. One of the connecting carriers runs immediately through the mill plant, but makes no allowance to the tap line. The rights of way of the other two connecting carriers apparently lie about 2 miles from the mill, and they make the tap line an allowance of 2 cents per 100 pounds. We regard this as unlawful. As their lumber rates extend to the mill they may under section 15 reasonably compensate the lumber company for switching the lumber to their lines, but only if the distance from the mill to the trunk line rails is in excess of 1,000 feet.

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.