80 Years of Transportation Progress: A History of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt Public Relations Department, 1957)  
  Source: "80 Years of Transportation Progress", Cotton Belt News, October 1957. Cotton Belt Public Relations Department, based on a seven-part series of articles written by Jacob E. Anderson and published in the Cotton Belt News from Janary to August, 1947.  

Jump to:

  Chapter 1: The Tyler Tap Railroad  
  Chapter 2: Texas & St. Louis Railway  
  Chapter 3: St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway  
  Chapter 4: St. Louis-Southwestern Railway  
  Chapter 5: The Post-War Period  
  Chapter 6: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow  

This booklet is published in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the date when the first section of the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) Railway began operations. Issued in lieu of the October, 1957, edition of COTTON BELT NEWS, (Volume XIII, Number 8), it presents, in concise form, the history and progressive development of the Cotton Belt.

In 1939, Jacob E. Anderson wrote a history of the Cotton Belt as his thesis for the degree of Master of Science from East Texas State Teachers' College. The text of the present booklet is the second revision and expansion of that history edited by the Public Relations Department, 1517 West Front St., Tyler, Texas.

  Chapter 1: The Tyler Tap Railroad  

The story of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Lines, familiarly known as the "Cotton Belt Route," is best seen through the development of the territory it serves. From its small beginning in the early seventies of the last century, it has steadily and continuously spread over a great area of the Southwest, extending here, absorbing there, until there has been created a well-rounded organization rendering service to the community with an efficiency far beyond the dreams of those who founded it. The first link in the now imposing system was the Tyler Tap Railroad. The principal factors which encouraged this enterprise will first be examined.

When the pioneers settled west of the Mississippi River, they usually established themselves near a navigable stream. But as immigration increased, many new communities sprang up where there were no natural transporting facilities. Such towns depended entirely upon an adequate method of transportation and communication with the outside world. The local producers were compelled to haul their crops to the nearest river, a process so expensive as to preclude any but the most valuable commodities, and the navigable rivers often did not bring the produce from the sections which each city considered its rightful trade territory. This made the merchants eager for some means that would enable them to overcome such a commercial handicap. Such was the case of Tyler and many other small East Texas towns after the Civil War.

In charge of this scheme was a young army officer, Major James P. Douglas. On returning home after the war between the States, he realized the need for better transportation in East Texas. When Major Douglas became interested in the fruit industry, he naturally looked for some faster means of shipping this commodity outside the production area. Therefore, in 1870, he petitioned the Twelfth Legislature of Texas to pass a special act of incorporation granting to him and others the right to locate, construct, own, operate, and maintain a railroad, with a single or double track, for a distance not exceeding 40 miles from Tyler to connect with some other railroad, to be selected by the directors. The capital stock was to be one million dollars, divided into shares of fifty dollars each, each share to entitle its holder or owner to one vote, the majority of the stock to govern the actions of the incorporation. The legislature granted his request on December 1, 1871.

Rights Granted The legislature granted to the company a 200-foot right-of-way along the line of its survey for the use of the tracks and other necessary facilities. It also provided for the right to take from all State lands within five miles of the line, timber, dirt, gravel, etc., needed for construction.

At no time in its history has the Cotton Belt system received any land grants from the Federal Government.

The gauge of the track was to be the same as the railroad with which it intended to connect, but was not to be less than two feet in width.

The charter gave the company three years to complete construction, and was to endure for ninety-nine years from the date of the completion of the railroad.

Selling stock in a proposed railroad in 1876, when the South was in the grip of a great economic depression, must have been a gigantic task for Major Douglas, builder of the first link in today's Cotton Belt Route.


Tyler Tap Is Conceived
The people of Tyler had hopes of being located on the main line of the International & Great Northern Railroad, but as it was surveyed to Longview by the way of Troup, the citizens decided to promote and construct a railroad to tap either the Texas & Pacific or the International.
Two years later it became necessary to amend the original act. These amendments were duly approved by the legislature on May 7, 1873. They provided for an increase in the capital stock from one million to three million dollars. The route of the proposed railroad was changed by allowing it to run north from Tyler by the way of Gilmer, Pittsburg, Mt. Pleasant, and Clarksville to some point on the Red River. However, the extension north of Clarksville could not be more than thirty miles. Through each town previously named the depot was to be established within one-half mile of the court house, and the city was to donate a right-of-way of sixty feet through their corporate limits. The company was given until May, 1875, to complete twenty miles of track, and thereafter it was to construct twenty miles each year or forfeit the right to the unfinished part of the route. When the first ten miles became ready for operation, the governor was to appoint a state inspector whose favorable report would make the company eligible to receive sixteen sections of public land consisting of 640 acres each for every mile completed, provided the gauge used was not less than four feet, eight and one-half inches.


Additional Time Asked
The promoters discovered that even with the extended time they would be unable to complete the required mileage. So on February 25, 1875, an act supplementary to the amendatory act gave eight sections of land for every mile of completed roadbed, and for the completion of the track they would receive eight other sections of land. If the gauge was three feet, then only twelve sections of land were to be given the company. This measure was thought sufficient to finance the construction then under way; but the company was, nevertheless, compelled to ask for an extra year. This was granted by the legislature on July 12, 1876.


Construction Started In 1875
The actual construction evidently began some time in the summer of 1875, as Douglas reported the completion of ten miles of grading on August 30 of that year.

The route was surveyed through a rolling topography, following the creek beds in an effort to reduce the grade as much as possible. The longest grade encountered was 5700 feet, the shortest 100 feet, and the average usually 1500 feet. For every 100-foot rise, the grade ranged between 0.2 and 1.75 per cent. The ratio of curvature was large in comparison to the total length of the roadbed, but was as small as the natural difficulties would allow, the minimum being one degree and the maximum twelve. The engineering expenses amounted to $2,025.75.

One year later, in 1876, the grading was completed to one mile north of Sandy Switch (now Big Sandy, Texas), a station on the Texas and Pacific Railroad, in Upshur County, making a little over twenty-two miles in length. Another road gang had graded from Mt. Pleasant to Station 903, which was four and one-half miles south of Pittsburg. This gap was eventually filled in, making a continuous roadbed between Mt. Pleasant and Tyler, Texas.

At this particular time the gauge to be used was in doubt. The charter stipulated that the company use the same gauge as the road with which it was to connect, which was the standard gauge of Texas and Pacific. Although $3,000,000 had been authorized for the capital stock, less than $50,000 in shares were sold, making it necessary to consider seriously a narrow gauge. As late as December, 1876, it was reported that the gauge was not definitely decided. The first mortgage secured by twenty-year, seven per cent gold bonds, dated March 1, 1877, authorized the value of the road at $7,000 per mile. Eventually, financial difficulties determined that a three-foot gauge would be more in proportion to the money available.


Operation Started
The actual date the road was put into operation, according to Poor's Railroad Manual of 1878, was October 1, 1877. In that year General U. S. Grant had stepped down and Rutherford B. Hayes had just been inaugurated president of the United States. Alexander Graham Bell only a year before had invented a device called the telephone. The Civil War had ended and Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated only a dozen years prior. The South was in the grip of a great depression.

There was only one mile of siding and yard track, which was enough to operate the limited equipment. This equipment included one passenger car and sixteen freight cars.

The passenger train schedule called for a round trip each day, as there was no provision made to run at night. The motive power consisted of one locomotive named Governor Hubbard, after the distinguished and personal friend of Major Douglas. This, however, is contradictory to legend, according to which there were two diminutive locomotives, "Punch" and "Judy" and, literally speaking both were the pride and joy of the local countryside. The other evidence to discredit this belief is the last financial statement of the railroad printed in Poor's Railroad Manual of 1878, which lists only one locomotive. Tradition also insists that wooden rails were originally used, but it is now well established that iron rails weighing between thirty and thirty-five pounds laid on new cross ties constituted the first track.

In the fall of 1878, the grading reached Mt. Pleasant, but no rail had been laid north of Big Sandy at the time the road was reorganized into the Texas and St. Louis Railway Company. The "Tap" operated for about two years and had 21.5 miles of main line running between Tyler and Big Sandy, Texas, and about 50 miles of completed grading. During the entire life of this little railroad, it remained strictly a community enterprise, built by local capital, augmented by state aid in the form of 298 land certificates, totaling 190,720 acres, and officered and manned by local people. From the very outset, it became an essential part of the economic life of the communities through which it passed. Every person along the line had a direct interest in its welfare. Conceived as a relief for the stagnant trade conditions, it gave new impetus to Tyler and the surrounding vicinity of East Texas.

The successful completion of this road was due to the combined financial and constructive ability of Major James P. Douglas. Representing not the classical example of early American railroad builders such as Gould, Huntington, or Scott, he sacrificed personal gain for community service. By reviewing his life, we can understand why the Cotton Belt started out on a firm foundation.


James P. Douglas
James Postell Douglas was born in Lancaster District, South Carolina, January 7, 1836. When he was a small child the family moved to Talledge, Alabama, and when he was twelve, to Tyler, Texas. His father was a Methodist minister, and his mother of French Huguenot descent. He was named after a scholar and teacher in Lancaster, a James Postell. His grandfather, Alexander Douglas, of Lanarkshire, Scotland, came to Boston to join the army of Washington. He stayed with the army through Valley Forge, where his feet were frozen, making him a cripple for life. After 1778 he went south to the Carolinas and rejoined the army to fight in the battle of Cowpens.

The Douglas family had bought land located near "the forks of the Trinity," and also around Tyler and Rusk. James, at the age of fourteen, had a mail contract with the government between Shreveport, Louisiana, and San Augustine, Texas, by way of Tyler. He rode horseback and made the round trip once each week. At night he studied law and was eventually admitted to the bar shortly before the beginning of the Civil War. When war was declared, he was commissioned by the Confederate States of America to raise fifty men in Tyler and fifty men in Dallas. This command became the First Texas Battery. Douglas received the rank of Lieutenant, but after the battle of Elkhorn, he became the Captain. Throughout the war this battery served brilliantly, first with Bragg in Kentucky, then at Murfreesboro, under Johnston at Chickamauga and through the hundred days in Atlanta. Douglas received the rank of Major after these campaigns, and was often in command of J. E. Johnson's artillery. At the close of the war Douglas returned to Tyler, where he entered politics and was elected to the Twelfth Legislature of Texas as a senator. One of his most intimate friends was Governor Richard B. Hubbard, after whom he named the first locomotive of the Tyler Tap. He participated in the expulsion of the Davis regime, but cut short his political career to engage in the peach industry of East Texas. Being an ardent horticulturist, he established a chain of canning factories, locating them in Tyler, Henderson, and Lindale.

Douglas entered the newspaper business by editing and owning the Tyler Democrat-Reporter during the secession period and through the war.

In 1868 he married Miss Sallie White, by whom there were four children. After her death he married Miss Alice Smith and they had three children. He is remembered as an outstanding citizen of East Texas in the years following the Civil War.

  Chapter 2: Texas & St. Louis Railway  

The Tyler Tap, like many early railroads, fell victim to the chronic ailment of financial difficulties. As previously stated, the road was built by local subscription, with promoters looking hopefully for aid through the land grant policy of the state. Eventually, they did receive their quota of land, but after its sale there was not enough money to pay off the accumulated debts. Douglas was determined that the people who had invested their money in this project would not lose a cent on their decision. He felt particularly responsible for many of the shareholders whose faith in him made possible the completion of the railroad. So, as a last resort, he went to St. Louis and there interested a group of financiers in his railroad. This group, headed by James W. Paramore, owned and operated the St. Louis Cotton Compress Company, and were especially interested to find a means of shipping Texas cotton to St. Louis. They reasoned that by extending the Tyler Tap to Texarkana, Texas, and there connecting with the Iron Mountain Railroad, they could secure a direct route between Texas and the Eastern markets. This arrangement was entirely satisfactory to Douglas, as he could pay back the original investors and also give Tyler its long sought rail connections.


Texas and St. Louis Railway Company Organized
On May 17, 1879, the Texas and St. Louis Railway Company was organized with James P. Douglas as President; James W. Paramore, Financial Agent; and the Board of Directors composed of W. M. Senter, J. L. Sloss, M. C. Humphrey, J. D. Goldman, all of St. Louis; J. P. Douglas, C. Goodman, J. H. Brown and A. W. Ferguson, of Tyler.

In order to assure themselves of ample money to complete the road, Paramore went to New York and secured the aid of the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb and Company, and a banker by the name of Woershaffer. In his memoirs, Samuel W. Fordyce, president of the company 1886-1898, relates how astonished he was that Paramore was able to interest these Eastern bankers in a project whose future was anything but bright.

Originally, the purpose of the Texas and St. Louis was to operate as a feeder to the Iron Mountain, beginning at Texarkana and extending to Waco, Texas, a distance of 266 miles. Later, however, the promoters decided to expand and, by joining with "Palmer and Sullivan" railway system of Mexico at either Eagle Pass or Laredo, to give St. Louis a direct connection through Arkansas and Texas to Mexico City. The Sullivan line had about 400 miles completed and expected to reach the capital of Mexico in the early part of 1880. Paramore estimated that the 2,200 miles from St. Louis to Mexico City then could be made in about seventy-two hours. This was the first scheme for an international railroad system ever attempted on the North American continent.

The route specified by the charter passed through the following towns: Mount Pleasant, Tyler, Waco, Gatesville, Leon Junction, and to either Eagle Pass or Laredo. This paralleled the already constructed International Great Northern Railroad, but as this was the usual procedure of early railroad builders, little criticism can be made as to the foresight of the company officials. The charters obtained by these pioneering railroads often gave them the right to construct far beyond their financial means, and the Texas and St. Louis serves as an illustration of this, as it actually constructed only about one-half as much as the charter called for.

The company started operation with only two locomotives, the Governor Hubbard and the J. W. Paramore. On seeing the name on the side of the latter engine, Thomas Scott, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, cautioned his "Gould" friends by the remark, "Gentlemen, that means business." Two passenger cars and fifteen freight cars made up the entire rolling stock, and with this equipment construction was begun on the line to Waco. At the end of the fiscal year, March 30, 1879, to March 30, 1880, the company was still concerned with completing the road between Texarkana and Waco, and the directors decided not to operate until all the separate parts were, unified into one continuous link. The Texarkana extension reported thirty miles of track, which terminated at Sulphur Fork. It was intended to complete the road to Tyler before the close of the year. The construction west of Tyler reached the Trinity River in December, 1880, making a total of 181 miles.

The company purchased five new locomotives of about twenty-four tons each, four new passenger and 100 new freight cars, and with this equipment the rate of construction was increased to such an extent that it was expected that Waco would be reached some time in 1881.


J. W. Paramore Becomes President
At the election of officials in May, 1880, James W. Paramore became president, succeeding James P. Douglas. Douglas had become interested in another railroad, the Kansas and Gulf Short Line, which proposed to build from Tyler to Lufkin. Although he was the most eminent leader of the Texas and St. Louis Railway Company, this is regarded as the initial step in Paramore's successful control of that organization.

Paramore, who later became known as the "Narrow Gauge King," had a very colorful career before he became connected with the Texas and St. Louis Railway. Born in Mansfield, Ohio, on December 27, 1830, he first gained prominence as a soldier in the Civil War. He was mustered into service as Major of the Third Regiment Ohio Cavalry, with which he served for three years, receiving his honorable discharge in 1863. Called again to the "colors" with the rank of Colonel, he performed gallantly throughout the Tennessee campaigns. By mere coincidence, he was opposed by the artillery command of Major James Douglas at the battle of Murfreesboro.

After the war, Colonel Paramore started his railroad career as the general superintendent of the Tennessee and Pacific Railroad. This company, which is the predecessor to the present Tennessee Central, intended to build from Nashville to Knoxville. In the spring of 1876, he began canvassing the counties of Davidson, Williamson, and Smith for aid to assist in building this road, and was able to secure $500,000 in bonds from each county. The road was built to Lebanon, but could not obtain sufficient capital to complete the line to Knoxville. As nothing could be done for some time, Paramore decided to go into the cotton business in St. Louis, Missouri. With several other men he organized the St. Louis Cotton Compress Company, whose desire was to establish St. Louis as a gateway to the Eastern states for the cotton of the Southwest. The bulk of the Texas cotton was being shipped to Galveston, then to New Orleans, and up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to the East. Paramore immediately saw the advantage of a direct rail connection between St. Louis and Texas. He persuaded his associates to purchase the struggling Tyler Tap Railroad, and by joining the Iron Mountain System at Texarkana, they would have their connection into St. Louis. Soon, however, most of his time was taken up with operating this railroad, and he decided to resign from the compress company and devote his entire energy to his rail project.


Arkansas Extension
As the road was about to be completed into Waco, Jay Gould, the great railroad tycoon, purchased the Iron Mountain and immediately revoked the traffic agreement for the connection at Texarkana in an effort to force the narrow gauge to sell out or give up any hope of doing a through business into St. Louis. This action, which first appeared to be a catastrophe, can now be looked upon as the deciding factor that encouraged the "Yard Wide Road" to extend its lines north of Texas. Gould had a monopoly on the southwest territory with his combined systems of Missouri Pacific, Iron Mountain and Texas & Pacific, but in Paramore he found an adversary not as easily subdued as some of his former opponents. The Colonel decided not only to reject his proposal of selling out or be forced out, but made plans to build an independent line through Arkansas to Cairo, Illinois.


Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad
The first step taken in this direction was the acquisition of the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad Company by Paramore, who became president of that company on May 13, 1881. This small railroad is the oldest incorporated company of the many that have been consolidated to form the present system. It started its existence as the New Madrid and West Prairie Road Company, by authority of a special act of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, on February 22, 1855, for the purpose of constructing a wagon toll road.

Apparently, the road remained incomplete twenty years later, as on October 11, 1875, the County Court of New Madrid County, Missouri, in an order reciting that certain stockholders of the New Madrid and West Prairie Road Company had conveyed their stock to George B. Clark and Oscar Kochtitzky, ordered that the stock held by the county also be conveyed to them in order to secure the completion of the road.

On the following day, October 12, 1875, the court gave its approval for this company to construct the road, and, for the necessary funds, to use the proceeds from the sale of land that they secured in the original charter. As it was found possible to raise money for a railroad, they, on September 7, 1876, organized the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad Company for the purpose of acquiring the property, rights and franchises of the New Madrid and West Prairie Road Company, consisting of its right-of-way, wagon roadbed, and appurtenances, extending from New Madrid to Maiden, Missouri, a distance of approximately twenty-seven miles, together with 70,000 acres of swamp timber land in New Madrid County.

This three-foot narrow-gauge was opened for traffic in January, 1878. The road ran through what is known as the "Nigger Wool Swamp" area of Southeast Missouri. The capital stock was authorized at $270,000. Throughout the entire life of the road, its rolling stock consisted of two locomotives, two passenger cars, and thirty freight cars, which were enough to handle the meager traffic it carried.

The only available statistics on operations show that in 1879 there were 3,744 passengers carried and 8,977 tons of freight handled. The following year the road's total earnings were reported to have reached $21,868. A. M. Stead was president and chairman of the board of directors until replaced by James W. Paramore.


Texas and St. Louis Railway in Missouri and Arkansas
The Texas and St. Louis Railway Company of Arkansas was incorporated on May 21, 1881, under the laws of the State of Arkansas, by parties interested in the Texas and St. Louis Railway, a Texas corporation, for the primary purpose of constructing a narrow gauge railroad from Texarkana, Texas, to the Arkansas-Missouri state line. This corporation consolidated with the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad Company to form the Texas and St. Louis Railway Company in Missouri and Arkansas. This consolidation was effected on November 29, 1881, granting to this company the right to construct from Bird's Point, Missouri, to Texarkana, Texas.

This company constructed the railroad from Bird's Point, Missouri, to a junction with the Little River Valley and Arkansas about six miles west of New Madrid, Missouri (at a point called Paw Paw Junction, now known as Lilbourn), and from Maiden, Missouri to Texarkana, Texas with a branch 6.4 miles (from McNeil, Arkansas) to Magnolia, in Columbia County, Arkansas. All construction was completed by December 31, 1882, except that portion between Clarendon and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which was completed August 12, 1883, including bridges across the White and Arkansas Rivers.


Samuel W. Fordyce
After the consolidated company received the approval of the legislatures of Arkansas and Missouri, Paramore began to look for someone capable of locating the line through Arkansas. Fortunately, during the war he had become acquainted with a young cavalry officer, Captain Samuel W. Fordyce, whose judgment and foresight had immediately won the esteem of his fellow officers. This, plus his previous railroad experience, persuaded Paramore to seek his assistance in this undertaking. Fordyce was residing in Hot Springs, Arkansas, recuperating from an illness caused by wounds received during the war. He had moved there from Huntsville, Alabama, where he had settled after the war and married the daughter of Colonel W. A. Chadwick, former commander of the 26th Alabama Regiment.

John Fordyce, grandfather of Samuel, was one of the pioneers who immigrated to Pennsylvania shortly after the expulsion of the Indians, and from there his father, also named John, had moved to Senecaville, Ohio, where on February 17, 1840, Samuel was born. At the early age of thirteen, he became interested in railroad construction when his father and associates built the Central Ohio Railroad, an extension of the Baltimore and Ohio. It was the custom in those days for the merchants to own and operate their own freight and passenger depots, and John Fordyce was the proprietor at a place called Campbell's Station. Samuel grew up in this atmosphere of
railroads and business. When the Civil War commenced, he organized a troop of men which became Troop B of the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. He came out of the war with the rank of Captain and acting Inspector General of the Second Cavalry Division of the Army of the Cumberland.


Locating The Road Through Arkansas and Missouri
Due to his personal friendship with Paramore, Fordyce accepted the offer of locating the line through Arkansas. It had been previously decided to build a narrow gauge instead of the standard gauge, as Colonel Paramore was quite firm in his belief that the narrow gauge could be built and equipped at about one-third the cost of a standard gauge road. His reasoning was based on investigations that proved the bonded indebtedness of standard gauge was about twice that of the narrow-gauge lines. One strong argument for the "small" gauge in the South and Southwest was that the bulk of the traffic was cotton which could be compressed, and large quantities transported without the necessity of large cars. During an interview, Colonel Paramore was asked if he thought that roads hereafter built in the South would be narrow gauge, and he replied: "I think that the prevailing system of roads in the South will be the three-foot gauge, and that those that are now four feet eight and one-half inches will be altered to the narrow gauge." Of course, this has been proven to be untrue, but at that particular time he was justified in this statement, as the South had little to offer a transportation company in the form of population and industry. Paramore estimated that it would take about $9,000 per mile to build and equip the road, but it eventually took about $12,000.

There were three necessary aims that would govern the selection of a route through Arkansas. First, it was very essential to build as far away from the Iron Mountain as possible, and develop a new trade territory. As transporting cotton was the primary object, the road should cross the rich alluvial plains near the rivers that were best suited for cotton production. The last governing object was a route where cheapness of construction and economy in future operations would prevail.

Keeping these ideas well in mind, Fordyce decided to ride over the entire route in order to gain first-hand information about the country. The experiences that he encountered proved to be very interesting and illustrate conclusively the reactions of the people toward the early railroads. On one occasion when the engineers were attempting to locate a crossing of the Arkansas River, a prominent planter urged Fordyce not to run the railroad through his plantation, as he thought it would be ruined and worthless thereafter. When it was decided to run the line across the river at another place, this same man begged that the location be changed, and was even willing to give $10,000 if it could be arranged.

Quoting from Fordyce's account of his selection of the route beginning at Texarkana, we get a good picture of the country through which the railroad was to operate:

Starting north, I had my engineers run several lines through the county-seat of Miller County, Arkansas. Henry Moore, attorney, who lived in the county seat, helped a great deal. However, the road was run four miles east of this town, as to run through it would have made the road five or six miles longer. For the same reason we missed Magnolia, in Columbia county. The next town to pass through was Camden. As soon as Jay Gould saw our object, he built a line from Gurdon, on the "Iron Mountain," to Camden to divide any business we might get there.

Pine Bluff was our next town (6000-7000 pop.). The people gave us property to build our shops and depot and helped in every way possible. We had difficulty in finding a way across the Arkansas River and had the engineers run several lines above and west of Pine Bluff and some south. Few people lived on the "Grand Prairie," and the land sold for $1.25 per acre.

So we had clear sailing to the White River, where we met most serious difficulties as we had to build a pine bridge five miles long before we reached the river, where we crossed a road that ran to Helena, Arkansas, and as the White River was navigable, the business had to be split. There were only a few people living between Clarendon and Brinkley, and the country was wild and thickly wooded. At Brinkley we crossed the old Memphis and Little Rock Railway, so again business had to be divided. Between Brinkley and Jonesboro there were no towns and only an occasional small settlement.

It seemed to me as I rode over the country that it would never become developed, it was so wild and so unprepossessing in every way. Jonesboro was the county seat of Craighead county; it had a splendid location on Crowley's ridge. Ideal location for a town. Population 250-300. I believed that the road should pass through this town. The chief engineer had run the line four miles east, as this was the best place to cross the ridge, and a contract had been let and some grading already done. The people appealed to me. On Christmas day I rode across Walnut ridge from the swampy bottoms into town and discussed the situation with the chief engineer. He was strongly opposed to any change in location, saying that he could not get into Jonesboro across the ridge except by some very heavy grading costs and an excessive grade. I realized this, but still wanted to go through the town and give the property a lift. I sent to Little Rock for another engineer, Charles Williams. He went to work and located the present line.

The country was very sparsely settled between Jonesboro and the St. Francis River. The line, however, was constructed along the east side of Crowley's ridge and kept high enough to be above high water from the St. Francis and Mississippi. I found a good place to cross the St. Francis and into Maiden, Missouri. The route between Maiden and New Madrid was through swamps and sunken lands country of Southeastern Missouri. Some persons had, however, constructed a cheap narrow gauge log road between the two towns. We bought this road by exchange of securities. We could use this road within five miles of New Madrid, at which point we diverged and went through a swampy country to Bird's Point. Here it was necessary to construct an incline to reach a car ferry to take us across the Mississippi River to and from Cairo, Illinois.


Securing The Right-of-Way In Arkansas
Before actual work could be done, it was necessary to secure the right-of-way. The accepted custom in those days was for the people to give the necessary land for the right-of-way to the railroad company, in return for which their land values were naturally increased. Consequently, no funds had been provided for right-of-way purposes, and it was essential for the railroad to contact each land owner in order to obtain the deeds. In charge of this work Fordyce appointed a Mr.
White, whose experiences with some of the land owners proved to be very amusing. On one occasion he encountered a man by the name of Webb who owned 200 acres in the southeast section of Greene county. White stayed at Webb's cabin for about three days, but he absolutely refused to sign the deed, and therefore the right-of-way through his place had to be condemned. As White was about to leave, he said to Webb:

"Jim you are making a big mistake by not signing the right-of-way deed. The railroad would open a market for your timber, people would settle in this country, and you would have a daily newspaper to read." To which Jim replied, "General, I done tole you from the fust that I don't wont no railroad down heah. We ust to be the happiest folks in the world, till a lot of infernal longhaired Kentuckians with six-foot rifles came over heah and crossed on our people, and their dogs crossed on our dogs, till now thar ain't a good bar dog in the whole country."

In Poinsett county, a man had a corn field laid off in straight rows, and his reason for not sign-, ing the deed was that if the railroad was run triangular across his • field, there would be too many.-pint sized rows. His comment was: "If you will run your railroad plum square across the field, I'll give you the right-of-way, but if you come triangular it will make so many pint size rows that I'll have to charge you for it."

This country was very wild and unsettled, and once while riding between Brinkley and Jonesboro, Fordyce came to a small clearing where a man by the name of Harrison lived. His nearest neighbor was ten miles away, and on that particular day he had killed two huge black bears while looking for his cattle in the creek bottoms.

Before the work was completed, Fordyce rode over the route between Texarkana and Bird's Point three times. Legend has it that he used an old grey mule on the first ride, and that it took him the greater part of a year to complete it. The cost of the right-of-way and the terminal grounds at Texarkana, Camden, Pine Bluff, Clarendon, Jonesboro, and Bird's Point was $75,000.


Early Advertisement, reads:


Texas and St Louis Railway AS A FREIGHT LINE.
The attention of the public in called to the superior facilities of this Line for doing a FREIGHT BUSINESS. The Road is entirely new. The rails are all steel, and the equipment unequaled by any Line in the West. It can make better time than any other line, as it is one straight, continuous Road, without branches, which avoids the possibility of cars getting astray, and assures their prompt deliver. The equipment is built with a capacity equal to that of any of its connections. The question of transfer has been avoided by arranging to change cars from narrow to standard gauge trucks, thus enabling freight to go through without breaking bulk. The rates will always be found as cheap as by any other line, if not cheaper. It will pay to ask for rates before shipping by any other line. We respectfully solicit your patronage, and assure you we will try and give you satisfaction.

GEO W. RESTINE, General Manager

GEO. W. LILLEY, General Freight Agent.





Construction of Tracks and Bridges
On April 20, 1881, a contract was made with George B. Hibbard of New York (agent for the construction company) to construct and equip the line from Bird's Point, Missouri, to the Arkansas-Texas state line at Texarkana, for $10,000 per mile. A supplemental contract, however, dated June 6 of the same year, provided that Hibbard would receive an additional $2,500 per mile because of changes in the original plan of construction, the changes calling for steel rails instead of iron, heavier bridge construction, grade reductions, etc.

Actual construction was started in several places at once, minimizing the chances that weather would hold up the work. The rails used were imported from Wales, England, by the way of New Orleans, and up the Mississippi River to Bird's Point. This rail weighed 35 lbs. per yard and cost approximately $75.00 per ton delivered. White oak was used for the ties, as it was easily obtained and was one of the best types of wood for this work. One of the most remarkable features of the road through Arkansas was the number and length of bridges that were required.

At Rob Roy the Arkansas River was crossed on a 1,587-foot draw bridge with 224 feet of trestle approaches. It was built by Rust, Colledge and Company of Chicago, and due to the texture of the soil, it was found necessary to go seventy feet below water for the foundation.

The Red River bridge was one-half mile long and was built by S. H. Hopkins Company. The longest bridge and trestle was the one crossing the White River, nearly four miles in length. The Ouachita River bridge had a draw span of 225 feet, and one and one-fourth miles of trestle. The Saline River bridge had one 150-foot span, and three-fourths mile of trestle work.

On June 30, 1882, the construction was completed from Pine Bluff to the Saline River, a distance of twenty-five miles, but it was not until December that Texarkana was reached. At about the same time, the portion of the road between Bird's Point, Missouri, and Clarendon, Arkansas, was completed, but the remaining section between that city and Pine Bluff was delayed because of difficulties encountered in construction of the bridges over the White and Arkansas Rivers. Between these two streams the country was very swampy, and it was necessary to construct many trestles, in some places forty feet high. The workmen were in continuous danger of contracting malaria, and many of them suffered from chills and fever.


Celebration of Completion of The Road
When this section was completed on August 12, 1883, a huge celebration was held to inaugurate the opening of the road from Bird's Point, Missouri, to Gatesville, Texas. This celebration was to be concluded by Colonel Paramore driving a silver spike on the new bridge crossing the Arkansas River at the little town of Rob Roy, Arkansas. In connection with this event, all the business establishments in Pine Bluff were closed, and it was arranged that a special train would leave the depot for the bridge every thirty minutes. Among the celebrities who spoke on this momentous occasion was ex-Governor Richard Hubbard, of Texas, whose speech is an example of the energetic foresight of our early leaders. Quoting passages from that speech reveals the true greatness of Hubbard's oratory:

“I am here, ladies and gentlmen, to rejoice with you, to rejoice for you, and for the people of Illinois and Chicago, over this great achievement. I would not have missed the sight for much, and I have traveled through hot weather, the thermometer over one hundred degrees, and carried with me this three hundred pounds of avoirdupois of mine in order to get here. (Cheers) I would have swum rivers to get here, and I can swim. (Laughter) I would have come through a Texas prairie fire to get here . . . When this road first started, the first twenty-one miles were built in Texas and then it stopped ... we turned to St. Louis, and talked with Paramore, Fischer, Sloss, and others whose names memories will remain fresh in Texas while the rivers shall roll to the seas . . . and had the audacity and sagacity to invest their means, to lock hands with Texas and say "We will 22 take this infant road in our hands and cherish it until it shall grow to maturity" . . . The immediate result was the building of 121 miles of road to Tyler, Texas . . . Then came the news hissing over the wires into Texas that one by one, like the leaves in autumn, the great financier had bought the great lines and the Texas narrow gauge was left out in the cold . . . We remember the order which was issued giving us ten days to decide whether or not we would accept the rates of that great system, and live; and how, if we dared to build the road, the iron heel should come down upon our neck . . . now our line is nearly completed . . . and at no distant day our young men will be dancing the racquet with the dark-eyed daughters of the Montezumas.”

Colonel Paramore was called upon, and to a tremendous applause he replied that he was not accustomed to public speaking, as his vocation in life was that of a worker rather than a talker. He outlined the events that preceded this celebration, emphasizing the fact that he hoped this railroad would bring prosperity to the territory through which it passed. This address closed the speaking for the day, and preparations were made for the driving of the silver spike. The two engines, the "C. F. Stephens" and the "J. W. Paramore," met each other on pier four of the bridge, and as President Paramore asked, "Well, where is the spike?" a Major Stephens produced the shining wedge-like object, whose grip on the rail was to mark the completion of the road. No hole had been prepared for the reception of the spike, which fact doubtless caused Paramore to be a little gingerly with his licks, notwithstanding his preparation. There was imminent danger of a misdirected blow knocking the bright souvenir from the bridge and into the water below, but a few licks and then two well-directed blows by Stephens drove it home. Mrs. Paramore then took the hammer and gave the finishing strokes, which symbolized the end of the ceremony and the completion of the road.


Alliance with Connection at Cairo
During 1882, while the lines in Missouri and Arkansas were under construction, the Texas 8C St. Louis entered into a traffic alliance with the Illinois Central and the Cairo Short Line (St. Louis, Alton 8C Terre Haute), "by which they agreed to interchange business and operate their respective roads as one line." Apparently, it was contemplated under this agreement that the Texas & St. Louis would run its trains into St. Louis and Chicago. Advertisements appearing in a Guide Book published in 1883, however, indicate that only through Pullman cars were operated into St. Louis and that the transfer of freight was "avoided by arranging to change cars from narrow to standard gauge trucks, thus enabling freight to go through without breaking bulk."

The management of the Texas & St. Louis undoubtedly was aggressive and possibly a little over-optimistic. Poor's Manual of 1883 reports that another traffic agreement was made in 1882 with two connecting railroads in Arkansas whereby they "agreed to change their gauge from 3 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft., and to complete their lines to their respective termini."

It was further indicated that this agreement would "give the Texas 6c St. Louis a line into Little Rock and Helena, Arkansas and also to Augusta, Newport, Jacksonport and Batesville in the White River Valley." The same report stated that arrangements had been made "to extend the line from Waco to Laredo and a branch from Mt. Pleasant to Dallas."


The River Transfer at Bird's Point
For seventeen years the principal northern terminus of the Cotton Belt was at Bird's Point, a spot in Missouri on the west bank of the Mississippi, opposite and a little above the mouth of the Ohio River. Traffic through this gateway to the North was interchanged at Cairo with the Illinois Central, Big Four, and Mobile and Ohio Railroads.

In addition to a yard and transfer shed, the Cotton Belt constructed and maintained at Bird's Point a transfer incline and tracks for loading cars on steamers. After the Iron Mountain (Missouri Pacific) Railroad's incline at Bird's Point was washed away by the river, that road used the Cotton Belt's incline there.

On July 10, 1891, a contract was signed with the Illinois Central Railroad for the use of its terminal facilities at Cairo, Illinois. On the same day a joint arrangement was made with the Iron Mountain for use of its transfer steamers between Bird's Point and Cairo.

Transfer boat service at Bird's Point presented many seemingly overwhelming difficulties. The transfer at Cairo was a long and hard 24 one. At high water it was almost ten miles across the river, at low water not over four or five. Ice gorges and high water frequently interrupted traffic for several days at a time. A stage of forty-nine feet on the Cairo gauge caused overflow of the tracks at Bird's Point. Four feet or less of low water on the Cairo gauge either interrupted or completely stopped traffic. It was not unusual for service to be discontinued as long as two months at a time.

Maintenance of the incline required constant attention. Since its exposed location was highly vulnerable to the many changes of current and channel of the river, any system of permanent protection work was practically impossible. During the twenty-five years from 1882 to 1907, the tracks at Bird's Point were overflowed in ten different years and low water obstructed traffic nine different years.

Continued losses were suffered by the company through the diversion of traffic due to the uncertainty of the crossing at Bird's Point. Looking around for a cheaper and more certain river crossing, the board of directors decided upon Gray's Point, seventeen miles northeast from Delta, Missouri. It was declared by engineers to be the shortest distance for transfer across the river, as well as the safest and best point to maintain and operate an incline. In 1898 the Cotton Belt began operation of the transfer at Gray's Point.

In September, 1908, the river bank at Bird's Point caved off so much as to practically destroy the boat yard and most of the facilities. When, in April of 1909, the transfer incline was washed away by the river, it was not replaced.


Texas and St. Louis Railway Company in Texas
The Texas end of the road was having difficulty securing the land certificates to which it was entitled on completion of the required mileage of track.

As was the custom, the state sent an inspector to report on the condition of the track, and the first report revealed that the track from Texarkana to Waco was not safe for operation. The railroad protested this report and insisted that another inspector be sent to examine the road and equipment. Accordingly, Alexander Hogg was sent, and his report recommended that the company rebuild its bridges, as they were unfit for operation, and that this weakness was not caused by washouts, as represented by the railroad, because there had been no rains sufficient to cause such a condition. The Attorney General of Texas refused to issue the certificates because the company was not yet ready since they were not fully equipped, their depots were not completed, and their application was submitted in the wrong form. However, the conditions required by the state were met, and the land received. It was later sold to Gist Blair on September 25, 1890, for the sum of $350,000 and court costs, and the proceeds were used for the benefit of the bondholders.

Throughout the construction period of the Arkansas and Missouri line, the Texas company was operating at a suitable profit. From September, 1880, to March, 1882, the road earned $310,956.61, and after expenses were paid, the net earnings amounted to $87,842.94. This was remarkable, as the Goulds controlled Missouri - Kansas-Texas, International & Great Northern, and the Texas & Pacific railroads which had practically a monopoly on the passenger and freight traffic of the Lone Star State. In an effort to combat this competition, Fordyce decided to get the Texas State Legislature to reduce the passenger rate from five cents to three cents per mile. In order to do this, he needed an introduction to the retiring Governor Roberts. Fortunately, Roberts had attended the University of Alabama with two very intimate friends of Fordyce, L. P. Walker, former Confederate Secretary of War, and Clement Clay, ex-United States Senator. Securing introductions from these two men and carrying a pocket full of corn cob pipes, of which he knew Roberts to be very fond, Fordyce went to Austin and was able to procure the passage of a bill instituting a three-cent passenger rate, which eventually curtailed the income of the ambitious Gould interests. This reduced rate caused quite a bit of comment and criticism by the competitive roads that operated in Texas. Soon, however, it became effective in Arkansas and Missouri, but it did not bring the relief desired or anticipated.


First Receivership
Immediately after the opening of the Arkansas and Missouri line on August 12, 1883, the road ran into many difficulties of which the most urgent was the lack of adequate equipment to handle the increasing traffic. There were only thirty-three miles of siding, some of them holding only ten cars, resulting in frequent delays and causing dissatisfaction among the shippers and patrons of the road. In order to secure money for new equipment, it was necessary to readjust the stock and bonds, due to the fact that the outstanding income bonds constituted a second lien upon the line, thus preventing the creation of a new mortgage. On the ninth of November, 1883, President Paramore presented a plan that received the approval of nine-tenths of the bondholders. The benefits after the readjustment would give the company about $1,500,000 for immediate and future increase in sidings and equipment, and would prolong the date on which interest fell due on the notes. As nine-tenths of the bondholders had previously consented, its success was thought to be instantaneously assured, but the remaining bondholders refused to comply with this plan and, in little less than two months, the road in Missouri and Arkansas was placed in the hands of a receiver, the exact date being January 23, 1884. So, with only four months and twenty days of actual operation to its credit, the predictions of its competitors became an actuality as the company defaulted the matured interest on the first mortgage bonds.

Physical reasons for the failure of the road can be attributed to lack of equipment, delays in traffic caused by heavy rains, resulting in only sixty days of operation, and demoralization of the employes. This last reason was caused by the inability of the company to keep up its payroll.

W. R. Woodard, general manager of the road, assumed the receivership and went immediately to work straightening out the financial difficulties of the company. His experience had been varied, having served with the Missouri Pacific, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, and the Hannibal and St. Jo. He possessed a record for thorough knowledge of all departments of railroad work.


Operations During First Receivership
The first act of the receiver was to petition the United States Circuit Court for permission to issue certificates to the amount of $644,500 to pay off the road's indebtedness. These debentures were to draw not less than seven per cent interest. Woodard found that the road owed its employes a total of $134,458.52, which was to be raised from the certificates to be issued, and the remaining part to be applied to the upkeep of the property; but again the same trouble that put the railroad into receivership started all over in the form of floods and strikes. Woodard averted a strike by assuring the men that during the receivership their wages would be taken care of by the courts. The floods, however, continued to undermine the roadbed and cause discontinuance of service over the Arkansas divisions until early in the summer. Despite these handicaps, the revenues of the road from January 23, 1884, to January 1, 1885, were $509,497.35, and the expenses were $486,845.83, leaving a balance of $22,651.52. However, due to the additional construction, which was estimated at $85,633.54, the road did not show a net surplus. Woodard remained in charge until he was superseded by Samuel Fordyce on April 1, 1885.

When Fordyce assumed the receivership, he was confronted with about the same situations that existed when Woodard became receiver. The first steps taken by Fordyce were to abolish the expensive organization set up by his predecessor and to arrange for part payment of the floating indebtedness. He was able to obtain a loan of $500,000, on his own personal guarantee from a St. Louis banker by the name of William Nichols, to take care of this matter.

Fordyce was instrumental in restoring the respect and confidence of the men in the officials and in the future of the Cotton Belt. He made the men feel that the Cotton Belt was their road, that the owners had entrusted them with its operation and that this trust should never be betrayed. Consequently, the road was never again seriously affected by strikes during his administration.

As receiver of the road, Fordyce had done everything in his power to bring about a reorganization as quickly as possible, but Judge Pardee of the United States Court of Appeals, became impatient and ordered the Texas end of the line sold. This alarmed the New York bankers who owned most of the road, for they knew that if it was sold, Jay Gould would gain control of it. Judge Pardee gave Fordyce the order for the sale and promised him that if he could raise $250,000 to pay the pressing claims of the Texas company, he would allow an additional six months to complete the whole reorganization. This order in his pocket, Fordyce went to New York, where he was personally offered $100,000 by the bankers (Kuhn, Loeb and Company), not to file this order until the reorganization. Jay Gould immediately sent his vice-president, Mr. Hopkins, to offer Fordyce $500,000 to file the claim, as it would be worth that much to him in order to gain control of the road. Fordyce refused both offers, but eventually sold the bankers $250,000 worth of receiver's certificates at their face value, which again frustrated the attempts of Gould to become the master of the narrow gauge.

A plan of reorganization was submitted by President Paramore and the bankers, whose idea was to issue a lot of securities to substitute for bonds and stocks of the old company. They decided to issue income bonds at $13,000 per mile, on which no interest would be paid unless earned, together with stock valued at the same price. Paramore was to receive a certain amount of mortgage bonds for the money he had invested in the road.

Fordyce was very much opposed to this plan, as he thought it would not be in the best interest of the property. He criticized the bankers in proposing such a plan, as it seemed they could nearly tell the exact date-that another reorganization would take place. Regardless of the criticali attitude of Fordyce, a new company was formed under this plan.


Sale of the Properties
The properties were sold by a special master to a bondholders' committee consisting of William Mertens, George Coppell, L. S. Wolff, M. Gernsheim and J. W. Paramore. The sales were approved by the court on March 2, 1886, for the Missouri and Arkansas company, and on January 2, 1886, for the Texas company. The properties of both organizations were surrendered to two new companies on May 1, 1886.

This date then marks the end of the struggles of the old Texas and St. Louis. Despite the short period of its life, many "firsts" in the history of the Cotton Belt can be attributed to this company. It built more mileage than any of its predecessors or followers, it instituted cheap transportation in the Southwest, and it proved once and for all the superiority of the broader gauge to the narrow gauge.

Though financially a failure, the Texas and St. Louis had for its leaders two of the most distinguished pioneers of the period after the Civil War. J. W. Paramore and Samuel Fordyce gave their untiring thoughts and energy to the welfare of the road through its infancy, and its final success as a major transportation link to the Southwest was the reward of their early endeavors.

  Chapter Three: St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway  

The reorganization of the Texas and St. Louis into the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas was accomplished when the special bondholders' committee deeded the property of the Texas company to the St. Louis Arkansas & Texas Railway Company in Texas on February 11, 1886, and the Arkansas and Missouri company to the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway Company in Arkansas and Missouri on April 29, 1886.

Two companies were necessary, as before, to comply with Texas laws, but in fact only one management existed.

Fordyce remained the receiver of the old company until May 1, 1886, on which date he became president of the new company. Paramore dropped out of the organization, but continued to hold a majority of the securities. Shortly, however, he became alarmed when the bankers, Kuhn, Loeb and Company, began to dispose of their holdings, and at his death in 1887, he had no connection with the company.


Changing the Gauge
The officers of the road realized that they were not only without financial backing, but that it was necessary for them to standard-gauge the road and build branches to add to the traffic of the system while the territory was being developed. Fordyce believed that by changing the gauge and building new branches he might be able to operate without any outside financial aid.

It was decided that when tie replacements were necessary, a longer one would be installed, and the outside spike driven in at the right place in order to save time on the appointed day. Cars and engines were changed, and on October 18, 1886, at a pre-arranged hour, traffic was suspended, and the reinforced section gangs completed the change over the northern division in twenty-four hours. The work of changing the gauge on the Texas lines was completed January 12, 1887. Changing the gauge cost close to $3 million—a staggering sum in those days. Over 1-1/2 million cross ties were used which cost an average of 29c each (in 1957 the average cost was $3.17 each).

The second part of the rehabilitation program was the acquisition or construction of branch lines to tap the communities adjacent to the main line. The branches in Arkansas were built through the medium of separate corporations to satisfy provisions of the Arkansas laws. Before any construction work was done, these companies sold their rights and franchises to the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company in Arkansas and Missouri, which then built the lines.


Little Rock and Shreveport Branches
The first of these companies was the Little Rock and Eastern Railway, which was incorporated February 17, 1887, under the laws of the state of Arkansas in the interest of the Arkansas and Southern Railway Company for the purpose of constructing a line from Altheimer to Argenta, (now North Little Rock), Arkansas, approximately forty-one miles long. On August 15, 1887, before any construction work had been done, its rights and franchises were conveyed to the latter company.

On August 13, 1887, before any construction work was done, the Shreveport and Arkansas Railway Company conveyed its right to construct a line from the city of Shreveport, Louisiana, to the Arkansas state line, in the general direction of Lewisville, Arkansas, to the Arkansas and Southern Railway Company. The Shreveport and Arkansas Railway Company was incorporated in Louisiana on May 18, 1887.

After the acquisition of these two corporations by the Arkansas and Southern Railway, the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas conveyed its railroad in Arkansas to the same company, but finally, on August 18, 1887, these two companies consolidated to form the second company under the name of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company in Arkansas and Missouri. While a new corporation was actually formed in this action, no new books were opened, and the accounting records of the first company were continued.


Malden-Delta, Missouri, Extension
In Missouri, the only extension by this company was the incorporation of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Terminal Railway Company on May 1, 1888, for the purpose of constructing a line from Maiden to Delta, Missouri, a distance of about fifty-one miles. This company, however, did not complete any construction, and was absorbed by the parent company on August 15, 1888. The extension to Delta was opened February 17, 1889.

Kansas and Gulf Short Line (Lufkin Branch)
In Texas, the company purchased the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company, a narrow gauge railroad running between Tyler and Lufkin, a distance of about ninety miles. This little railroad has a very interesting history in itself. When J. P. Douglas relinquished his position as president of the Texas and St. Louis Railway Company in 1880, he immediately organized this company in order to give Tyler a direct outlet to the Gulf. Most of the men who helped him build the Tyler Tap became subscribers to the stock of this new enterprise. Incorporated under the laws of Texas on February 18, 1880, it was given the right to construct a line from Tyler south to Sabine Pass, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico.

The stockholders met and elected J. P. Douglas, president; W. S. Herndon, vice-president; T. R. Bonner, treasurer; and E. H. Wells, chief engineer. The latter was the man who surveyed the Tyler Tap from Tyler to Mt. Pleasant.

Wells headed a survey party which left Tyler on February 3, 1881, and made preliminary surveys extending from Tyler south through Cherokee county and a portion of Angelina county to a point near the town of Homer. After locating about thirty miles of line to the vicinity of Alto, Texas, construction was started at Jacksonville, south towards Rusk. The reason that they did not start building from Tyler instead of from Jacksonville was that on January 22, 1881, the company acquired the property rights, and franchises of the Rusk Transportation Company from C. C. Francis and others who had purchased the same at foreclosure sale.

This latter company, which had constructed a narrow-gauge tramroad between Rusk and Jacksonville, was incorporated under a special act of the Legislature of Texas approved on May 2, 1874, for the purpose of constructing a first class tram-railroad or horse car road from a point on the International & Great Northern Railroad in Cherokee county to the town of Rusk. Traditionally, the road was constructed by the citizens of Rusk in an effort to keep the courthouse from being moved to the more important shipping center of Jacksonville. This scheme worked, as the hardwood rails provided a smooth surface for the horse-drawn cars and minimized the previous transportation difficulties that existed between the two towns.

In Jacksonville, a twelve-ton locomotive, costing $5,200 and constructed by Bailey and Company of Philadelphia, had arrived with twenty-four freight cars. Utilizing this new equipment, the track between Tyler and Jacksonville was completed in 1882, and by the following year construction had progressed to a point five miles south of Alto, Texas, making a total length of sixty-one miles.

W. S. Herndon was elected president of the Kansas and Gulf Short Line on May 8, 1883, and remained in that capacity until the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway took over the property in 1887. Lufkin was finally reached on July 1, 1885. A proposed extension to Rockland failed to materialize due to the change in management. This little road proved to be a money maker after its completion between Tyler and Lufkin. In 1886, the net earnings amounted to $16,067.39, which made Fordyce aware of its value and anxious to absorb it into the expanding St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas system. This property was deeded to St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company in Texas on April 29, 1887, but the deed was voided by court order. The property was then deeded to Tyler Southeastern Railway Company on January 13, 1891. The line from Tyler to Lufkin was standard-gauged in 1895.

On May 10, 1899, the Legislature of Texas passed a special law authorizing the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas, successor to St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway Company in Texas, to purchase, own and operate the railroad property and franchises of the Tyler Southeastern Railway Company. The stockholders and directors met on October 6, 1899, and practically unanimously voted to accept the terms of the Act. Accordingly, the St. Louis Southwestern acquired the stock and indebtedness, secured and unsecured of every kind, of that company.


Hospital Department Organized
The St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas established itself as a pioneer in the railroad-hospital field when, on June 1, 1887, it inaugurated a hospital department and appointed Dr. Charles Adna Smith as chief surgeon. The first hospital, built in Tyler, was completed in 1888 and was operated there for 17 years. The institution built an enviable reputation and as the railroad grew in importance its increasing number of far-flung employes made it advisable to relocate the hospital in a more centrally-located city on the line. The railroad purchased a 37-acre tract of land at Texarkana, Arkansas, selected by Dr. Smith, and erected in 1904 a new hospital building at a cost of approximately $125,000.

The hospital system was reorganized on May 1, 1923, under a trustee form of management to give employes a voice in its operation and control. In 1927 a nurses' home was built on the grounds and the hospital was completely remodeled at a total cost of $170,000.


Construction of Extensions in Texas
The only extensions constructed by the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Company in Texas were branches from Corsicana to Hillsboro, completed on February 3, 1888, with a one per cent grade (abandoned in 1940); Commerce to Fort Worth on April 14, 1888, with a one and one-tenth per cent grade; and Mt. Pleasant to Sherman on July 17, 1887, with a one and one-fourth per cent grade.

All these lines were laid with fifty-six pound rails in accordance with the program started by the company in 1886, to replace the thirty-five pound rails on the entire main line. During that year, sixty miles in Missouri and Arkansas, and 257.6 miles in Texas, were relaid.

In 1887, 159 miles were relaid in Missouri and Arkansas, 127 miles in 1888, and the remainder in 1889. No further change was made in Texas until 1889, when six and five-tenths miles were relaid with sixty-pound relay steel procured from an abandoned railway at Stuttgart, Arkansas. The remainder of the Texas main line was relaid with fifty-six pound rail in 1900.

The new rails cost $37.50 per ton, and more than $3,000,000 worth was purchased from Andrew Carnegie, who had acquired the Bessemer process in making steel. Fordyce did not have the cash to pay for the rails, but was able to persuade Carnegie to accept the company's notes, who insisted that Fordyce personally endorse them.

Many years of railroad history were written by the men and women, long forgotten, whose feet walked on these worn, iron door sills located in old general office building at Tyler, Texas. Sill on left reads "K. & G. S-L R.R. 1884" (Kansas & Gulf Short Line Railroad, now part of StLSW). Sill on right was laid by St. Louis Arkansas & Texas Railway, predecessor company of StLSW.

In a few months, Fordyce realized that the earnings of the road would not take care of any of the debt, and it was imperative that immediate financial assistance be secured. Constantly aware of Jay Gould's interest in securing control of the road, Fordyce went to him and was able to sell some of the treasury stock and income bonds to cover the debt owed Carnegie. This transaction gave Gould complete control of the little railroad which had so ambitiously opposed him, but this stimulus failed to prevent a receivership that was inevitable.


Second Receivership
The burden of new construction, cost of standard-gauging the old line and purchase of new equipment proved too much for the company to carry with the sources of revenue at hand, and so on May 13. 1889, Fordyce was appointed receiver of the Texas company and, on the following day, for the Missouri company. The eligibility of Fordyce to act as receiver of the Texas line was questioned, as he was a citizen of Arkansas, but this was settled by the appointment of A. H. Swanson as co-receiver.

During the three years and three months of incorporation, the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway experienced many of the difficulties encountered by other early railroads. Inferior roadbed and low grades made wrecks and washouts common occurrences. When wrecks occurred, box cars were often merely turned over clear of the track, to be picked up at some indefinite date in the future by the wrecking crew.

At this time Fordyce wished to return to private business, but Jay Gould, who had complete confidence in his ability to handle the affairs of the road, insisted that he remain with the company. This request, from a man who rarely asked for financial assistance, without a doubt prompted Fordyce to continue as head of the railroad until his resignation in 1898.

A final analysis of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas companies reveals that these two corporations increased the owned mileage of the road sixty-seven per cent. They also represent the beginning of the road as a serious competitor to the already established lines to the Southwest.


Engine 132
In 1887, engine number 132 went into the Red River when a bridge it was crossing gave way. The engineer and fireman jumped for their lives as the engine sank into the water, and both swam ashore unhurt. The engine remained in the river several years, until a wrecking crew raised it, moving it to Pine Bluff shops on its own wheels. Seven days later, this same engine pulled a full train to Texarkana, and remained on the main line until it was replaced by heavier locomotives.


Fordyce and The Bandit
The president's business car rolled north from Texarkana, carrying Colonel Samuel W. Fordyce and directors of the Cotton Belt on their annual inspection tour of the road. It was almost dark as the train stopped at Red River bridge to wait for the drawbridge.

Inside the car the directors were enjoying their after-dinner cigars as they discussed the fine trip they had had thus far. Suddenly the discussion was cut short when a shot rang out ahead of the special train. Colonel Fordyce stepped out onto the platform and found himself face to face with a masked man who pointed a pistol in the Colonel's face and told him to get back in the car. The Colonel retreated, followed by the masked gunman.

As the Colonel backed into the lighted room, the masked man looked startled—he seemed to recognize Colonel Fordyce. At the same time Colonel Fordyce recognized that voice. The bandit was an old friend of the Colonel's named Shang Doland. Shang had been a freight conductor when the Colonel was station agent back in Ohio before the Civil War. Shang had turned up in Hot Springs, while Colonel Fordyce was living there, and the Colonel had found him a job on the police force. Later Shang killed a man and was sent to the penitentiary at Little Rock. After he had served a short time, Colonel Fordyce obtained a pardon for his colorful friend.

Colonel Fordyce said: "Shang, aren't you ashamed of yourself to come over on the Cotton Belt and try to rob a road as poor as this one? Don't you know that no one with any money ever rides on the Cotton Belt? Why don't you go over and hold up the Iron Mountain?"

The bandit was floored; he pulled off his mask and extended his hand, saying: "Excuse me, Colonel, if I had known this was your special, I never would have held it up. I'll go out and stop the boys and let you go. Good-bye."

Shang took the Colonel's advice, and a few nights later he and his boys held up a northbound Iron Mountain train out of Texarkana. A few weeks later the Colonel received a keg of moonshine liquor by express, along with a note from Shang saying that while he and his boys were hiding out in the hills they had come upon a still and the liquor was so fine he wanted the Colonel to have some of it.

In his memoirs, Colonel Fordyce added in his characteristic manner: "I took great delight later on in giving United States Judge Caldwell some of it and then told him that the revenue tax had never been paid on it."

  Chapter Four: St. Louis-Southwestern Railway  

After the property was involved in its second receivership, the reorganization of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas inaugurated the organization of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, which was incorporated in Texas on January 12, 1891, and in Missouri on January 16, 1891. Louis Fitzgerald, acting purchasing agent for the reorganization committee, had bought the Texas property at foreclosure on January 8, 1891, and deeded it to St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas on January 13. The Arkansas and Missouri property was bought at foreclosure on October 20, 1890, and deeded to St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company on February 9, 1891.

The narrow-gauge Lufkin branch, which was formerly the Kansas and Gulf Short Line and had been operating independently since its acquisition by the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway in 1887, was sold to Fitzgerald on January 9, 1891, and four days later was conveyed to the newly incorporated Tyler Southeastern Railway Company.

All three of these properties were operated by the receivers until June 1, 1891, on which date the new companies took possession and began operations. The St. Louis Southwestern owned the stock of the other two companies, and managed and financed all three as one system, although the Texas companies were operated separately.


Gray's Point Terminal Railway Company
During the administration of Samuel Fordyce as president, the company enjoyed an era of prosperity that enabled it to extend its mileage through subsidiary organizations and maintain the property on a desirably high standard. The major extension involved the incorporation of the Gray's Point Terminal Railway Company on May 23, 1896, in Missouri, for the purpose of constructing a line from Delta to Gray's Point, Missouri, on the Mississippi River. The property was never operated by the owners, but before completion was leased to the St. Louis Southwestern effective December 1, 1897. The original line was about 16.4 miles in length, together with 6.2 miles of siding, and after completion, was opened for operation on December 1, 1898. Johnson Brothers and Faught, the contractors, agreed to furnish the necessary right-of-way, 100 feet wide, for the railroad, and thirty acres of land at Gray's Point for terminal purposes. A transfer incline was constructed at Gray's Point, and traffic was interchanged with the Illinois Central Railroad at Thebes, Illinois, by means of a ferry across the Mississippi River.

A connection with the C&EI Railroad at Thebes, Illinois, on the bank of the Mississippi River opposite Gray's Point, Missouri, was made and formally opened for freight business on February 21, 1900, and for through passenger service between Chicago and Texas points on May 15, 1900.

This extension not only saved the company several thousand dollars annually, but also provided another outlet for the railroad to the Eastern cities. The terminal company took in payment its own five per cent semi-annual interest-bearing fifty-year bonds at ninety cents on the dollar, of which both principal and interest were to be paid by the St. Louis Southwestern. The capital outlay of this road was about $260,000, and the total amount of bonds issued was near $300,000. Although this increased the annual interest charge about $15,000, the extraordinary expenses encountered annually to keep the Bird's Point line open made it appear good policy to build this new terminal at Gray's Point, where operating costs proved to be much less.


Paragould Southeastern
During 1893, an agreement was entered into on June 14 with Bertig Brothers and J. F. Hasty and Sons, operators of the Paragould Southeastern Railway Company, in which the St. Louis Southwestern surrendered $25,000 in first mortgage bonds of the Paragould and Buffalo Island Railway, predecessor of the Paragould Southeastern, in exchange for $25,000 capital stock and $25,000 in first mortgage bonds of the new company. Provisions in the contract required that the line be extended across the St. Francis River to lands owned by Bertig Brothers.

This road was incorporated October 11, 1887, as the Paragould and Buffalo Island Railway Company, and given the right to construct a narrow-gauge tram-road eastward from Paragould, Arkansas, about eight miles. According to legend, the road was built on logs with wooden rails and operated by a concern known as the Tennessee Factory Company. There was one locomotive named "Cassie," after the daughter of the company's attorney and surveyor, J. B. Boykin.

The real reason for constructing this tram-road was to provide a means of getting bolts and materials to Paragould for operation of the Ware-Rossen Stave Mill. Henry Wrape was made receiver of this mill, and sold the property to J. F. Hasty and Sons in 1888. The road remained idle for a short time until Henry Wrape Company and Bertig Brothers induced the Cotton Belt to furnish them with thirty-five pound rails and a narrow gauge locomotive. On November 13, 1893, the name of the road was changed to Paragould Southeastern, and extensions of the line were made to Cardwell and Hornersville, Missouri, and to Blytheville, Arkansas, in the years 1895, 1897, 1903, and 1907. The line was changed to standard gauge in 1893, and thereafter operated as an independent company.

Although the Cotton Belt had controlling interest in the Paragould Southeastern Railway Company after 1893, it was not until January 1, 1914, that the road was officially absorbed. The Cotton Belt acquired all the stock ($100,000 par value), and all the bonds ($511,000 par value).

The program of purchasing controlling interest in the small connecting roads was a continuation of the territorial development started by the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway.


Trackage Rights Into Dallas, Texas
It was found advantageous to secure trackage rights over the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad from Wylie to Dallas, Texas. In August, 1898, a ten-year contract was drawn up that included a charge of forty cents per train mile for both passenger and freight, and another clause that granted each company the right to withdraw after six months' notice. At the same time, the Cotton Belt granted the G.C.&S.F. the use of its tracks from Wolfe City to Sherman, Texas.

Previously, the company had considered construction of a line from Carrollton to Dallas, but this plan failed to materialize. However, in 1903, the Cotton Belt did build its own tracks to Dallas from Addison.

One other trackage agreement was reached on September 1, 1896, that involved granting to the Texas Midland Railroad Company the right to operate over the Cotton Belt's line between Commerce and Greenville, Texas, thus preventing ruinous competition and cementing a more friendly relationship between the two companies.

On April 27, 1897, the first branch constructed by the old Texas and St. Louis Railway between McNeil and Magnolia, Arkansas, 6.4 miles in length, was leased to the Louisiana and North West Railroad Company at a rental of $3,960 per year. This lease was to become effective immediately upon the completion of the latter's track to the Louisiana-Arkansas state line. The reason for this lease was to get rid of the operation of this branch, which never had paid for itself, and to gain an eighty-mile feeder into a new and undeveloped territory rich in timber and cotton products.


Rehabilitation Program
A direct result of adding branch lines and securing trackage agreements with competing roads increased the gross earnings for the first time to over five million dollars in the years 1893, 1895, and 1898. This enabled the company to rehabilitate its track by widening the embankments, ballasting, and installing heavier rails on the main line.

In 1893, fifty-six pound rails were used over the entire system except on the New Madrid branch, Magnolia branch, forty-three miles in Texas, and eighty-eight miles on the Tyler Southeastern, which used thirty-five pound rails. The first seventy-five pound rail to be used was laid on the Arkansas division during July, 1895, and increased each year until by 1898 there were 45.27 miles of this rail to compare with 1,058.54 miles of fifty-six pound rail, and 119.19 miles of thirty-five pound rail.

The original track had been laid without ballast, but by the same year 483.68 miles of ballasting had been completed.

The yearly improvement of the roadbed helped to increase the tonnage per train of both freight and passenger, thus increasing the earnings. Lumber constituted more than one-half of this tonnage, with cotton and cotton products ranking second. Most of the commodities hauled originated on the company's lines, sometimes averaging as much as seventy per cent of the total, and this, with the fact that more than half of the freight traffic was northbound, indicates that the road was dependent on the very country through which it passed instead of what business could be obtained through connecting lines.

The Fifty-second Congress of the United States passed an act compelling the Interstate Commerce Commission to require the railroads to equip their rolling stock with automatic couplers and air brakes by January 1, 1898, later extended to August 1, 1900. To meet the conditions of this law absorbed about sixty-five per cent of the expenditures appropriated for equipment maintenance and required a revision of that department's budget. Prior to this law, the rolling stock was equipped with link and pin couplers.


First Use of Oil for Fuel
With an abundance of timber close at hand, the first locomotives used wood for fuel. Later, it was determined that coal was more economical and efficient even though it was necessary to have it hauled from mines located in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas.

During the early part of 1898 the company experimented with the use of crude oil from wells at Corsicana, Texas, as fuel for the locomotive hauling passenger trains between Corsicana and Hillsboro. This arrangement, whereby the Cotton Belt became the first railroad in the Southwest to use oil for fuel, proved satisfactory, and was the forerunner to the use of oil as fuel in all steam locomotives operated by the Cotton Belt.


Edwin Gould Succeeds Fordyce
The year 1898 saw the passing from actual participation in the business of the company, one of its most ardent leaders. On October 31, Samuel Fordyce relinquished his office to Edwin Gould after a service record of approximately twenty years. Fordyce's resignation was due chiefly to his differences with George J. Gould, who demanded that Fordyce turn over the business of the Cotton Belt in Texas and Arkansas at junction points to his Texas roads and to the Missouri Pacific, regardless of pre-established rate agreements. After another disagreement over the defeat of a railroad commission in Arkansas, Fordyce tendered his resignation.

Edwin Gould, second son of Jay Gould, was first connected with the road in 1888 as secretary, and was elected vice president in 1891 during the reorganization. He was born on February 26, 1866, and attended private schools until he became old enough to enter Columbia University, where, after three years, he decided that his interests were more in the commercial lines than in the literary. Despite his father's refusal to give him permission, he left college and turned to Wall Street, where in six months his operations showed a profit of one million dollars.

In 1925 he sold control of the Cotton Belt to the Rock Island Railroad, which terminated the connection of the Gould family as railroad operators in this country after more than sixty-eight years of having controlling interest in one or more railroads.

He turned his attention to helping establish homes and foundations for underprivileged children. The most noteworthy of these were the Edwin Gould Foundation for Children, the Hopewell Society of Brooklyn, and the Berkshire Industrial Farms at Canaan, New York.

When the United States entered the first World War, he served first as supply sergeant of Troop A, Squadron A., and later as major in the ordnance department of the First Brigade.

During Edwin Gould's administration the Cotton Belt substantially increased its earning capacity, and many changes, purchases, and additions were made.


Stuttgart and Arkansas River Railroad Company
The first of these purchases was the Stuttgart and Arkansas River Railroad, extending from Stuttgart to Gillett, Arkansas, a distance of 35.47 miles. This road was incorporated in Arkansas on November 21, 1888, for the purpose of constructing a line from Stuttgart to a point at or near Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas River. In 1892, the construction was completed. The track was laid with thirty-five pound steel rails, at a cost of $250,000. Its equipment consisted of one locomotive and two passenger cars. The company operated only a few months, under the leadership of F. M. Gillett, president. On January 27, 1893, S. W. Fordyce was appointed receiver and operated the road until May, 1894, when he was discharged, but in August, 1895, he was again appointed and operated the property until January 3, 1901, when its property, rights, and franchises were sold at foreclosure sale to the St. Louis Southwestern.


Trackage Into Memphis
With the opening of the first bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Memphis in 1892, an arrangement was made with the Iron Mountain to run passenger cars of the St. Louis Southwestern into the city of Memphis from Fair Oaks, Arkansas, over Iron Mountain tracks. This gave the Cotton Belt double daily passenger service between Memphis and Fort Worth without change of cars, and single daily service between Memphis and Gatesville, Texas. Subsequently, traffic arrangements were made with the Iron Mountain for handling Cotton Belt freight traffic over the same route. On May 15, 1900, a traffic agreement was entered into with the Iron Mountain for the joint use of that company's terminals at Memphis, and the Cotton Belt was able to establish its own independent freight and passenger agencies there.

In 1909 the Memphis Union Station Company was organized for the purpose of constructing and operating passenger and freight facilities in that city. The Union Station was opened April 1, 1912. The Cotton Belt, L&N, NC&St.L, Southern and Iron Mountain each owned one-fifth interest in the station and used it jointly. Effective on the date of the opening of the new union station, the Cotton Belt entered into an agreement with the Rock Island for handling of Cotton Belt passenger trains over its line from Brinkley to Briark, Arkansas, across the Mississippi from Memphis.

On January 3, 1912, the Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge and Terminal Company was organized for the purpose of constructing and operating a double-track railway and highway bridge over the Mississippi at Memphis. The construction was authorized by an act of Congress on July 20, 1912 (amended August 23, 1912). Under a contract between the Rock Island, the Iron Mountain and the Cotton Belt, dated May 14, 1913, the execution of which was authorized by the Cotton Belt board of directors in a special meeting April 28, 1913, each of the three companies agreed to subscribe in equal proportions to the capital stock of the new bridge company. J. T. Harahan, for whom the bridge was named, purchased the property for approaches, and construction was placed under the direction of Ralph Modjeski, the engineer who had built the Thebes Bridge several years earlier. The new bridge was opened for traffic on July 15, 1916.

On March 1, 1920, the Missouri Pacific Railroad served the required twelve months written notice cancelling its contract covering the handling of Cotton Belt freight traffic between Fair Oaks and Memphis. Subsequent conferences were held to negotiate a new agreement on a basis that would permit the Cotton Belt to compete for traffic moving through the Memphis gateway. An equitable agreement was not reached, and negotiations were opened with the Rock Island for the use of its tracks by Cotton Belt freight trains from Brinkley to Memphis, over which Cotton Belt passenger trains had been operated since 1912, and with the Illinois Central for use of its freight terminal facilities at Memphis. A satisfactory agreement was reached on February 28, 1921, and the Cotton Belt was able for the first time to operate its own freight trains, with its own crews, in and out of Memphis.


Trackage Into St. Louis
On October 15, 1900, an agreement was reached with the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad (now Missouri Pacific), which gave the Cotton Belt trackage rights for its passenger trains between Delta and Bismarck, Missouri. Trains of the Iron Mountain then handled Cotton Belt passenger cars between Bismarck and the St. Louis Union Station. Under the same agreement Cotton Belt freight traffic was transported in trains of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern between Delta and St. Louis. The Cotton Belt opened an independent local freight agency in St. Louis on February 1, 1901.

Pending completion of a bridge across the Mississippi River at Thebes, Illinois, the Cotton Belt on August 7, 1903, granted the Missouri Pacific joint use of Cotton Belt tracks for its freight trains between Dexter and Gray's Point, Missouri, including Cotton Belt terminal facilities and transfer boats at Gray's Point. Effective September 8, 1904, Missouri Pacific's use of Cotton Belt tracks was extended from Dexter, Missouri, to Paragould, Arkansas.

The route over the Missouri Pacific via Delta, Missouri, for Cotton Belt passenger trains was abandoned on October 18, 1903, when, under a temporary trackage agreement with the Missouri Pacific the Cotton Belt began operating its own passenger trains over the Illinois Division of the Missouri Pacific between Thebes and East St. Louis, Illinois; then into St. Louis Union Station over tracks of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis.

Under a new trackage agreement with the Missouri Pacific effective September 8, 1904, the Cotton Belt was granted the right to joint use of that road's Illinois Division between Thebes and East St. Louis, Illinois, for operating both freight and passenger trains.


Central Arkansas and Eastern
In Arkansas, one company was absorbed by lease. It was the Central Arkansas and Eastern Railroad Company, which was incorporated May 18, 1901, under the general laws of the State of Arkansas for the purpose of constructing a railroad from England to Ryan, Arkansas. An amendment to the original charter provided for extension from Ryan to Stuttgart, and from Rice Junction to Hazen, Arkansas. The original company constructed only nine miles of track linking the towns of England and Ryan before the St. Louis Southwestern leased the property on July 1, 1910. The traffic of this small road consisted of rice, lumber, and hay, which its one locomotive was quite able to handle over the low grades. R. M. Foster was its first and only president. When the Cotton Belt took charge, it constructed the branch lines and opened the entire line for operation on October 22, 1911, which continued until abandoned in June, 1937.


Cotton Belt Builds Into Dallas
In Texas, the company acquired by lease or purchase the Dallas Terminal Railway & Union Depot Company in April, 1901; the Texas & Louisiana Railroad in July, 1903; the Eastern Texas Railroad in November, 1906, and the Stephenville, North & South Texas Railway in July, 1913.

The first of these companies, the Dallas Terminal Railway & Union Depot Company, was incorporated December 10, 1894, to build terminal tracks and other property in Dallas, Texas. The name of the company was changed in 1899 to the Dallas, Fort Worth & Gulf Railway Company, when an extension to the city of Fort Worth was being contemplated. However, on December 20, 1901, the original name was again assumed, and under a contract dated April 13, 1901, the St. Louis Southwestern purchased the entire capital stock. Five miles of track had been constructed by 1896. The remaining construction, a total of four miles, was completed in May, 1903. At the same time, the St. Louis Southwestern completed a branch from Addison, Texas, to a connection with the above track.

A passenger station was constructed in 1902 and used as such until 1916, when the Union Terminal Company of Dallas opened a joint passenger station for all railroads in the city. The passenger station was then used as an office building until 1931, when it was leased to bus companies operating into Dallas as a depot. Under an agreement dated November 1, 1942, but actually executed September 19, 1946, the old passenger station property was leased to Southwestern Greyhound Lines, Inc., and the passenger station was rebuilt by Southwestern Greyhound.

The freight facilities of the Dallas Terminal Railway & Union Depot Company are jointly used by Fort Worth & Denver Railway Company and St. Louis Southwestern under a joint facility agreement.


Lufkin Extension
The second railroad to be absorbed into the Texas company was the Texas & Louisiana Railroad Company on July 7, 1903. It was incorporated July 24, 1900, under the laws of Texas for the purpose of constructing and operating a line from Lufkin to Newton, Texas, but the real reason for its incorporation was to take over and extend the already constructed railroad of the Lufkin Land & Lumber Company. The lumber company had built from Lufkin to Monterey, Texas, and when the Cotton Belt assumed control in 1903, it built an additional four miles into Warsaw, Texas. In September, 1907, the Cotton Belt purchased from the Lufkin Land & Lumber Company a line of railroad extending from Warsaw to White City, Texas. That part of the line from Prestridge to White City was abandoned in 1933, and the line from Lufkin to Prestridge was abandoned in 1939.


Purchase of the Eastern Texas Railroad
In 1906 the Cotton Belt bought from the Central Coal and Coke Company the Eastern Texas Railroad, which extended from Lufkin to Kennard, Texas, a distance of 30.3 miles. It was built in 1901 and 1902, primarily to provide an outlet for the lumber manufactured by the Kennard Mills, largest plant of its kind in the South at that time, located at Ratcliff, Texas. One mixed train was operated each day, making the round trip to and from Lufkin.

The cost of the road amounted to $364,678, and in 1902 its gross earnings reached $10,391. The rolling stock included three locomotives, two passenger cars, and sixty logging cars. However, when the Cotton Belt bought the road, it had five locomotives and 139 freight cars, and a deficit of $3,031. The Cotton Belt acquired the entire capital stock of this road in exchange for its own first consolidated mortgage bonds. The property was operated as an independent railroad, using the equipment of the Cotton Belt, until May 1, 1921, when it was abandoned.


Lease of Stephenville North 8C South Texas Railway
The last railroad to be leased in Texas with an option to purchase, was the Stephenville North & South Texas Railway. This little road, which connected with the Cotton Belt at Gatesville, Texas, ran in a northwesterly direction to Hamilton and then to Stephenville. It was incorporated on February 4, 1907, with the right to build a line between the two towns. An amendment to the original charter provided for extensions from Hamilton to Gatesville, Stephenville to Thurber, and from Hamilton to Comanche, Texas. Construction was completed between Stephenville and Hamilton in 1907, and the two extensions from Hamilton to Comanche and Gatesville were completed in 1911. The proposed extension to Thurber was never built.

In January, 1909, the Commonwealth Trust Company of St. Louis, Missouri, bought one-half interest in the road, and at that time it was earning over one hundred thousand dollars annually. Freight constituted nearly three-fourths of the entire traffic, and most of the rolling stock was freight equipment.

On July 1, 1913, all the property of the road was leased by the St. Louis Southwestern Company of Texas for a period of ten years. This lease was extended several times. In October, 1934, the line from Stephenville to Hamilton, and from Edson to Comanche, was abandoned by authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission, leaving only 32.42 miles of the original 106 miles of the road. The Gatesville-Hamilton branch was finally abandoned in January, 1941.

Shreveport Bridge & Terminal Company
The Shreveport Bridge & Terminal Company represents the only organization in Louisiana to become part of the Cotton Belt system. This was incorporated on December 27, 1897, for the purpose of constructing a bridge over the Red River, with necessary yards and sidings for connections into Shreveport, Louisiana. The Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad bridge previously had been used for this purpose.

The bridge was completed and opened for operation on March 25, 1907, and has been jointly used by the Cotton Belt and the Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad Company since December 1, 1907.


Thebes Bridge
The Cotton Belt, with four other railroads, namely the Missouri Pacific, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, the Iron Mountain, and Illinois Central, completed on April 18, 1905, and opened for traffic a double-track bridge at Thebes, Illinois, across the Mississippi River, and forever eliminated the troublesome transfer service maintained by the Cotton Belt at Gray's Point, Missouri. A new company was organized to operate this bridge, called the Southern Illinois and Missouri Bridge Company, of which each of the roads mentioned originally owned one-fifth of the capital stock. The bridge company is now owned jointly by the Cotton Belt (40%) and Missouri Pacific (60%).


Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis
The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis serves a large number of industries in the St. Louis-East St. Louis switching district, as well as St. Louis Union Station. The Cotton Belt acquired a proprietary interest in this company on May 24, 1910, and as of January 1, 1957, was a one-sixteenth owner.


Agricultural and Industrial Department Organized
In 1908 the Cotton Belt organized an Agricultural and Industrial Department for the purpose of developing the resources of the territory along its lines. As the timber was cut out, the land was converted into farms, and agricultural products began to replace forest products as the leading source of revenue for the railroad. The Agricultural and Industrial Department gave special attention to educational work among farmers, in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the colleges and their experimental stations, presenting better methods of raising crops and livestock. A 300-acre experimental farm near Alto in Cherokee County, Texas, was purchased in 1913. During the winter of 1914-1915 a special demonstration train, carrying livestock and sample agricultural products of the farm, was operated over the entire railroad. It made stops at 195 stations and was visited by 90,000 people.

By 1912, at the urging of the railroad, the peach farmers in East Texas were shipping solid trainloads of the fruit. But in 1914 San Jose scale destroyed virtually every peach tree in the area. Undaunted by the near calamity, the Cotton Belt farm began experimenting to find a good commodity for the farmers to grow to recoup their losses.

The railroad constructed a giant greenhouse at the experimental farm where hardy varieties of tomato plants were grown and sold at actual cost to the farmers. Horticulturists from the farm's staff instructed the farmers as to proper planting and cultivation, and early in the summer the vines were heavy with green fruit. The railroad realized that to be profitable the bulk of the crop would have to be marketed in the North and East, but that ripe tomatoes, in the absence of today's modern refrigerated cars, were not susceptible to long-distance shipping. The Cotton Belt sponsored a program labeled "the green wrap deal" whereby, under the direction of the farm's personnel, the green tomatoes were packed and shipped to potential markets in the North and East, to ripen enroute. This successful experiment was the beginning of the East Texas tomato growing industry.

With the lessons learned at the Cotton Belt's experimental farm, farmers of the Southwest increased their cotton yield from fewer acres, and adopted new ideas and improved methods of cultivation with modern equipment. The farm's horticulturists not only experimented with food growing, but helped find better ways of food preparation and preservation. From the very beginning the farm experimented with dehydration of fruits and beans, and became one of the earliest pioneers in that field.

The Industrial Department was separated from the Agricultural Department in 1917, and the latter was discontinued in 1932. The farm was leased in that year to an individual farmer. In cooperation with the Texas Forestry Service and the Soil Conservation Service, the Cotton Belt decided in 1953 to convert the farm into a reforestation project. In each of the three following years, approximately 100 acres of the farm were planted in pine seedlings. Selective cutting of pulpwood from the farm is expected by 1965.


Frank H. Britton Succeeds Edwin Gould
Although many new extensions were completed during Edwin Gould's administration as president, other improvements, as far reaching in effect, can be noted. The gross earnings were more than doubled, the grades on the main line were reduced and all were compensated for curvature, and seventy-five pound rails laid on main line from Gray's Point to Fort Worth.

At a special meeting of the stockholders on April 17, 1912, the by-laws of the company were changed and the office of chairman of theb oard created. A few days later (April 22, 1912) the board of directors met and elected Frank H. Britton president to replace Edwin Gould, who previously had been elected chairman of the board. The election of Britton marks the first time that a man who had made railroading his career was ever elevated to this office in the company.

Britton was a practical railroad man, having begun his experience as a telegraph operator, and going up through the ranks, as dispatcher and division superintendent. He was superintendent of the Chicago division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from 1886 to 1892. He left the railroad in the latter year to engage in business for himself, but returned after a short time to become general superintendent of the Minnesota and Wisconsin Railroad, and finally assistant general superintendent of the Great Northern Railroad. On the latter road he made a fine record for low operating expenses per ton mile. In 1899 he became connected with the St. Louis Southwestern as general superintendent, with headquarters at Tyler, Texas. About a year later, he became vice-president and general manager.

When Britton became president, the Cotton Belt was in its best financial condition. Since 1909, dividends up to five per cent had been paid on preferred stock, and with a surplus on hand, he converted the line from what had been known as one of the "Gould Lines' Step-Children" to a very efficient and profitable Class 1 railroad. During all this time he gave particular attention to a high standard of maintenance of way and the acquisition of high class equipment. Britton established one of the first railroad industrial and agricultural departments, and brought from Washington, D. C, an expert to develop that branch of work.

When the 1913 depression curtailed passenger revenues, Britton initiated the use of gasoline-electric trains for branch lines and local runs. The first of these was established on the Shreveport branch in 1914.

During his administration a freight house with auxiliary facilities was completed and placed in service at St. Louis on January 1, 1913. This installation consists of a five-story, reinforced concrete building, 751 feet long and 30 feet wide, with several miles of house, team and storage tracks.

One other achievement which Britton accomplished before his death on July 26, 1916, was the planning and building of the Thebes Bridge across the Mississippi River. It was designed by Ralph Modjeski, and at the time of construction it was one of the most modern railroad bridges in the country and one of the very few cantilever type of bridges.

Edwin Gould was elected to fill the vacancy of president until the annual meeting of the stockholders in the fall.


Valley Terminal Railway
During the first few years that the Cotton Belt operated its freight trains over the Illinois Division of the Missouri Pacific it also used the terminal facilities of that company at Dupo (near East St. Louis), Illinois. Eventually it became desirable for the Cotton Belt to provide its own independent terminal facilities in the St. Louis area, so the Valley Terminal Railway was incorporated July 26, 1913, for the purpose of constructing a complete freight terminal at Valley Junction, in St. Clair County, Illinois, adjoining East St. Louis. The Cotton Belt owns the entire capital stock, and the property consists of about 126 acres of land, on which fourteen miles of track were laid. At the time of its completion on August 31, 1918, the Valley Terminal was taken over by the United States Railroad Administration and operated by it until February 29, 1920, at which time the property was leased to St. Louis Southwestern.

As part of the joint operations between East St. Louis, Illinois, and Paragould, Arkansas, the Missouri Pacific used the Cotton Belt's terminal facilities at Illmo, Missouri. On September 1, 1920, the Missouri Pacific withdrew from participation in the joint terminal operations at Illmo.


Pine Bluff Arkansas River Railway
One new railroad which had been operating independently, but the capital stock of which was owned by the Cotton Belt, was acquired by lease on January 1, 1918. It was the Pine Bluff Arkansas River Railway, incorporated January 26, 1898, that operated a line from Reydel to Rob Roy, Arkansas, where it connected with the Cotton Belt. There were several predecessor companies that existed prior to the organization of the Pine Bluff Arkansas River Railway.

The first of these was the Pine Bluff and Swan Lake Railway Company, incorporated on June 11, 1884, under the direction of Charles M. Neel, who decided to connect the several large plantations along the Arkansas River with the city of Pine Bluff. The line was completed from Rob Roy to Swan Lake, Arkansas, in the fall of 1884, and operated trains into Pine Bluff over Cotton Belt tracks from Rob Roy. The original company was reorganized, first into the Little Rock, Pine Bluff and White River Railway Company, in November, 1884, and then into the Pine Bluff, Monroe and New Orleans Railway Company in June, 1886. F. M. Gillett was deeded the property, and in turn he conveyed the title to the Pine Bluff and Eastern Railway Company in 1892. Samuel For-dyce was appointed receiver for this road in September, 1895, and served in that capacity until 1897, when the property was sold to J. H. Taylor, and the following year he conveyed the title to the Pine Bluff Arkansas River Railway, a Cotton Belt subsidiary.

This last company standard-gauged the line and extended it to Waldstein, Arkansas, in 1912. The entire property was leased to the Cotton Belt in January, 1918, under a contract for payment by the lessee of operating expenses, taxes, and interest on bonds. Despite the patronage given to the "Peavine," as it was called locally, it lost an average of $17,000 annually from 1930 until it was abandoned in December, 1934.


Malaria Control Program
Prior to World War I, the Cotton Belt realized that the widespread prevalence of malaria in the South was sapping not only the vital energy of its thousands of employes, but was lowering industrial, commercial and farm productivity.

A malaria-control plan was inaugurated in 1917, the U. S. Public Health Service furnishing trained officers to help carry out the program of fighting the anopheles mosquito which spread the disease.

An educational program was necessary for employes, farmers and residents of the countless communities along the railroad. An elaborate railway exhibit car (appropriately named "Anopheles") with a lecturer aboard, plied up and down the line teaching the story of how malaria is acquired and what to do about preventing it. Entire schools were dismissed so children could attend the lectures and enter the essay contests on "Malaria Prevention".

In the meantime, railroad gangs carried out field operations by removing mosquito breeding places along the railroad and from areas extending three-quarters of a mile beyond inhabited areas. Control was effected by dewatering, filling, partial drainage, clearing, stocking ponds with top water fish, and spraying oil in ditches and stagnant pools. Quinine was distributed in wholesale fashion.

How well communities eventually cooperated is shown by the fact that in 1917 the railroad bore 53 per cent of the community cost, whereas in 1920 it bore only 12 per cent. Sanitary departments of many communities actually had their origin from the educational program of the railroad.

As to rail employes, the company hospital treated during the period 1913-16 (prior to malaria control) an average of 602 employes per year for malaria. In 1925, out of 9,000 employes, only 22 were treated—a reduction of 96 percent!

At the community level, while no statistics were kept, medical doctors in the area attested to the vastly improved local health conditions, and firms wrote letters of appreciation to the railroad regarding new lows reached as to absenteeism of their employes.

This pioneer work won for the Cotton Belt national and international acclaim.

James M. Herbert
James M. Herbert, first vice-president, was elected to the office of president on September 4, 1917, to take over the duties assumed by Edwin Gould after the death of Frank Britton. Herbert, like Britton, chose railroading as his occupation, and started in the same branch of service as telegraph operator.

He was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on January 15, 1863, and was educated at the Delmont Academy. He began his career as a telegraph operator on the Wabash Railroad in 1881, and was later promoted to trainmaster. He served on the Grand Trunk, the Missouri Pacific, the Iron Mountain, the Southern Pacific, the Denver and Rio Grande, the Colorado Southern, and was president of the Colorado, Wyoming and Eastern when he became connected with the Cotton Belt in 1916.


Control of Property by United States Railroad Administration
Herbert had been in office only a few months when the Federal Government took control of the railroads during World War I, through an act of Congress on December 28, 1917, in the form of the United States Railroad Administration, under the direction of W. G. McAdoo. The act contemplated that during government control each railroad would receive as guaranteed compensation an amount equivalent to the average annual railway operating income for the three-year period ended June 30, 1917. Although the company asked for an amount in excess of that provided for in the act, the government rejected this claim and consented to pay the company $4,054,379.72 annually. It was also agreed that the same rate of depreciation would be maintained by the government; however, the company was to pay for all new equipment purchased during this period.

The officials of the company charged that while under the United States Railroad Administration, the physical condition of the road had been allowed to deteriorate beyond a safe condition for operation. This controversy came to a head when the Regional Manager informed the Federal Manager in April, 1919, that expenditures for maintenance of way and structures would be limited to $2,000 per mile, and that this allowance would be retroactive to January, 1919. The expenditures for the first three months of 1919 had been $2,857.48 per mile. As the budget had already been approved for the year, this would limit the actual expenditures for the rest of the year to $1,714 per operated mile, or a forty per cent reduction.

Shortly after the inception of Federal control, the Cotton Belt was divided at the Texas state line. The Texas portion was placed under the direction of J. L. Lancaster, former vice-president of the Texas and Pacific, and the Arkansas and Missouri section was in the group headed by A. Robertson, who had been vice-president of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Thus the two sections of the Cotton Belt were linked up with and operated as units of its two strongest competitors, and in a manner that seriously affected the physical property of the road, according to its corporate management.

In June, 1919, the Railroad Administration sent two inspectors, whose report recommended that an additional sum of $415,527 be expended on the property for the remainder of the year. President Herbert asked the Texas Railroad Commission to inspect the road, which it did, and their report showed that in some sections there were ten defective ties to a rail, joints churning on account of defective drainage, and the track center bound in most places, and that some ties protruded a foot above the sand ballast. Reluctantly, Herbert accepted the additional expenditures offered by the Administration, but left the question open for future discussion.

Under the terms of the Transportation Act of 1920, the law returned the railroads to their owners and provided a guaranty of net operating income for a period of six months. Acceptance of this guaranty would require the company to return to the government any excess amount earned. The company asked for information in regard to the purpose of this policy, but they did not receive a reply. So the company did not accept this guaranty, and as a result saved $1,900,038.99. During this period a greater volume of traffic was handled by the railroad than at any time in its previous history.


Daniel Upthegrove
President J.M.Herbert died on August 5, 1922, and was succeeded by Daniel Upthegrove, who served as temporary president until October 3, 1923, when he was elected president. Upthegrove had been connected with the road as assistant attorney from 1901 until 1916, when he became general solicitor. He was born in Greenville, Texas, on May 26, 1871, and was educated at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and at the University of Texas. He practiced law in his home town until he began his association with the railroad company. Upthegrove retired on September 15, 1946.

Control by the Rock Island
For the first time in its history, the Cotton Belt was controlled by another railroad company, when on March 11, 1925, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company purchased a dominant interest of the stock. Charles Hayden, James E. Gorman, M. L. Bell and N. L. Amster, all of the Rock Island, were elected to the board of directors, but it was decided that there would be no merger or consolidation, as the Cotton Belt would be operated independently. The Kansas City Southern Railroad, in the latter part of 1925, acquired the interest held by the Rock Island and elected its own representatives to the board.

K.C.S, and M-K-T Merger Plan
The following year the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company made application to the Interstate Commerce Commission for acquiring control through stock ownership of the Cotton Belt, and to merge with the Kansas City Southern Railway into one group. This proposal was rejected in 1927 by the ICC on account of the proposed financial setup. Merger plans were abandoned in April, 1929, when Kansas City Southern sold its interest to New York Investors, Inc.


Southwestern Transportation Company Organized
The development of hard roads throughout the Southwest and consequent increase in highway transportation, reduced the local freight and passenger traffic of the road very rapidly. In an effort to curb and remedy this situation, the company organized the Southwestern Transportation Company which was incorporated on October 1, 1928, under the laws of the State of Delaware, for the purpose of acquiring franchises to operate motor vehicles on highways paralleling practically all main and branch lines of the Cotton Belt. Expenditures for purchase of franchises for freight and passenger service, for buses, trucks and shops were authorized to the amount of one million dollars.

The two major objects of the transportation company were to improve, at substantially less expense, the local passenger service of the Cotton Belt, and to regain the local merchandise traffic of the railway by a modernized service. The establishment of coordinated train and truck service made the Cotton Belt one of the pioneers in this field of transportation.

The passenger franchises and buses were sold to the Southwestern Greyhound Lines, Inc., in 1933, since which time the Southwestern Transportation Company has handled freight traffic only.

Although operated as an independent business, the company works in close harmony with the Cotton Belt Railroad in providing shippers with the most advantageous features of surface transportation. Its coordinated rail-highway service affords small communities along its line with service comparable to that afforded large cities.

The company has always ranked high among the nation's common carrier motor carriers for general safety, continually winning citations and awards for its performance.

Headquarters are located at Texarkana, Texas, the most centrally located terminal city on its lines, where most of the traffic, claim and accounting work is carried on. Here, too, are located the general shops of the system where all types of repairs, general overhauling and rebuilding of trucks and trailers are performed. Equipped with the most modern machinery, and manned by skilled mechanics, the shop maintains the highest standard of repair service, having won national recognition for its excellence.

In serving the five-state area of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee, the company in 1956 handled 279,893 tons of merchandise. Its equipment consisted of 115 trucks, 111 tractors, and 284 trailers.


St. Francis Basin Project
In 1928 the St. Francis Basin Project was commenced. The purpose was to gain access to the rich and very productive territory in Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas by purchasing several small railroads that were already operating in that section. This would also shorten the route between St. Louis and Memphis by eighty-eight miles.

There were six small railroads involved: the Gideon and North Island, the Deering Southwestern, the Blytheville, Leachville and Arkansas Southern, the Cairo, Trumann and Southern, the Manila and Southwestern, and the Arkansas Short Line. These lines were all acquired in 1929, the first three by exchange of capital stock, and the others by cash purchase. Thirty miles of new construction were required to connect these railways into one continuous line from Maiden, Missouri, to McDonald, Arkansas, a point on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, over which line connection was made into Memphis. Under a trackage contract effective November 10, 1930, Cotton Belt freight trains operated over tracks of the Missouri Pacific until November 9, 1935, between McDonald and Briark, Arkansas, in transporting traffic into and out of Memphis, Tennessee.

The line between Trumann and McDonald, Arkansas, was abandoned in January, 1946.


Roadway Improvement In Texas
Improvement of the roadway between Mt. Pleasant and Corsicana, Texas, a distance of 142 miles, was completed in 1930 at a cost of five and one-half million dollars. Without interruption to traffic, choppy grades were corrected, danger from overflow was removed at 18 points along the line, and 22 miles of track were constructed on new location. The track was completely reballasted, and light rail was replaced with heavier rail. In addition to revising the grade line and rehabilitating the main line track, a new $600,000 freight yard was constructed at Tyler, Texas.


New Union Station at Texarkana
Prior to the building of the present union station at Texarkana, the Cotton Belt was joint owner and user of a union station which had been built in 1888 by the Missouri Pacific and Texas & Pacific. Entering the station as a tenant in 1908, the Cotton Belt subsequently spent considerable sums for improvements and betterments and finally became part owner in 1913.

Agitation for new union station facilities was begun by the community of Texarkana as early as 1920. The many complex problems involved in creating a workable plan required several years of negotiation on the part of the railroads involved. In December, 1927, an indenture created the Texarkana Union Station Trust, in which the Cotton Belt joined the Missouri Pacific, Texas & Pacific and Kansas City Southern in the construction and operation of a modern union passenger and mail terminal at Texarkana. The project was financed through the sale of securities of the joint terminal. Total cost was $1,667,000, of which the Cotton Belt assumed 21 per cent.

The "old line" shown in this photo was first built as a narrow gauge road. Picture is typical of improvement in roadway between Mt. Pleasant and Corsicana, Texas, a distance of 142 miles, in a $5-1/2 million project completed in 1930. Over this territory the grades were reduced from a maximum of 2% to 1% momentum; the curves from a maximum of 10 degrees to 4 degrees, and more than four complete circles of curvature eliminated.

The facilities were completed and placed in operation on April 17, 1930. Construction was done by Stewart-McGehee Construction Company of Little Rock, Arkansas. On May 12, 1930, the Chamber of Commerce of Texarkana sponsored a huge celebration in connection with the cornerstone laying. A banquet was given at the Grim Hotel on that evening for the officials of the participating railroads. A resolution passed by the Chamber of Commerce earlier in the year stated that the completion of the new union station would be "one of the most momentous events in the history of the city."


The "Blue Streak"
The decade preceding World War II witnessed a world-wide economic depression which had a marked effect upon the railroad industry. In spite of the severe restrictions imposed by financial conditions, the American railroads managed to modernize and improve their services in order to continue to serve the traffic demands of the nation. The Cotton Belt took its place with other progressive railroads in an effort to provide better rail transportation.

In 1931 a fast merchandise train known as the "Blue Streak" was inaugurated, operating from St. Louis to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with connections for Louisiana and Texas points. Its inauguration was coincidental with the establishment of free pickup and delivery service in the Southwest. Coordinated with the operation of the Southwestern Transportation Company, the "Blue Streak" provides overnight delivery from St. Louis to points along the Cotton Belt as far as Pine Bluff, a distance of some 400 miles, and 24-hour delivery to all Cotton Belt points^-as well as to connecting lines.


Refinancing First Consolidated Mortgage
In 1929 plans were made by the company to issue its general and refunding mortgage for the purpose of refunding the first consolidated mortgage bonds, amounting to $20,727,750, maturing on June 1, 1932, and also to reimburse the treasury for capital expenditures made in connection with its program of betterment.

During the preceding years the company had borrowed $9,000,000 in short term notes to banks for rehabilitation of the line from Mt. Pleasant to Corsicana, Texas; for purchase of the St. Francis Basin lines, and for additions and betterments. Before the refinancing program could be consummated it became impossible to refund the consolidated bonds and the short term notes through ordinary financial channels on account of the extraordinary conditions which prevailed in the money markets of the world.

Upon the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation by the United States government, the company applied for a loan to pay these maturities in full. The RFC agreed to loan the company an amount sufficient to pay half the principal of the maturities of both the bonds and the notes upon condition that the remainder be refunded by the holders and that collection of the note to the RFC be guaranteed by the Southern Pacific Company, which had acquired a controlling interest in the Cotton Belt. The Southern Pacific agreed to make this guarantee, and the holders of the short term notes agreed to accept half in cash and the remainder in three-year notes.

A refunding plan for the payment of 50 per cent in cash and the remainder in new bonds issued under the general and refunding mortgage was submitted to the holders of first consolidated mortgage bonds. After the holders of 90 per cent of the principal amount of bonds agreed to accept the offer, the refunding plan was consummated.


Control by the Southern Pacific
Since 1919 the Cotton Belt had been a very important connection of the Southern Pacific system on traffic between points in the East and the Pacific Coast and points in Texas. The consolidation and strengthening of other systems in the Southwest during the decade, 1920-1930, brought the Southern Pacific to a realization that self preservation required a route to this competitive territory.

In July, 1930, the Southern Pacific filed an application with the Interstate Commerce Commission seeking authority to acquire control of the Cotton Belt through ownership of a majority of its capital stock, part of which had been purchased and part of which was under conditional purchase at that time.

The ICC's proposed report, which was favorable to the plan, suggested an offer for the acquisition of minority stock. Acting on this suggestion, the Southern Pacific offered to exchange its stock for St. Louis Southwestern stock in the ratio of one share of Southern Pacific stock for three shares of St. Louis Southwestern common, and three shares of Southern Pacific stock for five shares of St. Louis Southwestern preferred. The offer was conditioned on acceptance by a sufficient number of minority stockholders to increase the Southern Pacific's holding to 85 per cent of the total outstanding shares.

The final order of the ICC approved the plan upon conditions which the Southern Pacific accepted in February, 1932. On April 14, 1932, the Southern Pacific Company purchased the stocks which had been in escrow, and on April 19, the same year, it issued sufficient amounts of its own stock to exchange for deposited St. Louis Southwestern stocks in order to complete its control of the Cotton Belt. By May, 1933, the Southern Pacific had 193,134 shares of St. Louis Southwestern preferred and 130,834 shares of St. Louis Southwestern common, or 87.37 per cent of the total outstanding shares of Cotton Belt stock.

Ever since the ICC approved control of the Cotton Belt by the Southern Pacific, the chief executive officer of the latter company has acted as chairman of the board of the Cotton Belt. During the years 1932 to 1939, Hale Holden served in that capacity. Upon Holden's resignation, he was succeeded by A. D. McDonald, who served during the years 1940 and 1941. For the period 1942 to 1951, A. T. Mercier, president of the Southern Pacific, served as chairman of the Cotton Belt's board of directors. Following Mercier's retirement, he was succeeded by Donald J. Russell, who was elected chairman of the board of the Cotton Belt effective January 1, 1952.

Russell, a native of Denver, Colorado, completed his engineering studies at Stanford University. After a plane crack-up with the R.A.F. in 1918, he took a 50c an hour job as timekeeper with the Southern Pacific Company in 1920. Shortly he found himself working as assistant engineer in the engineering department with a firm conviction that railroading was his career and that for such a career he needed to learn railroading from the ground up. He gave up his well-paid job for an assistant foremanship of a section gang and learned roadbeds. From the bottom he worked upwards through the railroad accumulating details and know-how ("Always inquisitive," an associate puts it. "Wanted to know everything about everything.") Arriving at the presidency of the Southern Pacific on January 1, 1952, he became, at age 52, the road's youngest president.

In August, 1957, Russell was selected to receive the eighth annual National Defense Transportation Association's Award as "the person who has made the most outstanding contribution in the preceding year to the solution of emergency transportation problems affecting National Defense."


Bankruptcy Petition Filed
The business recession of the troubled thirties forced the Cotton Belt, along with other railroads, into bankruptcy.

In the latter part of 1935 the company was faced with some $25,000,000 of principal maturities and interest obligations, following an accumulation of deficits over a period of six years. Unable to arrange for extension of the maturity of its obligations or to raise additional

funds due to exhaustion of its credit, the company filed a petition for reorganization on December 12, 1935. On January 3, 1936, Judge Berryman Henwood, a former member of the Missouri Supreme Court, was appointed trustee of the property.

The company presented a plan of reorganization on December 7, 1936. After hearings in March and April, 1937; a proposed report on the reorganization plan in February, 1938; and extensive further hearings in May and September, 1939, the Commission issued its report on June 30, 1941. A supplemental report was issued by the Commission in March, 1942, upon petition of the company and certain mortgage trustees. In February, 1944, the United States District Court in St. Louis approved the proposed plan of reorganization which had been certified to it by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The debtor and other interested parties then filed notice of appeal in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. That court affirmed the ICC plan of reorganization, with minor modifications, on August 26, 1946. After a petition for rehearing was denied, the company and other interested parties then filed petitions for writs of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. That court, on March 10, 1947, refused to review the plan, and on June 23, 1947, denied a petition for rehearing.


Dismissal of Bankruptcy Proceedings
In view of the company's substantial earnings during the reorganization proceedings and its improved physical and financial condition, it seemed unlikely that the plan of reorganization proposed by the ICC would receive the requisite support of the various classes of creditors. During the period 1942-1946 the company's indebtedness and interest in default had been reduced more than $10,000,000 due to increased earnings during World War II.

It was deemed desirable, not only from the point of view of the company and its stockholders, but also its creditors, to seek termination of the bankruptcy proceedings through a voluntary program of adjusting the company's financial structure. A petition seeking dismissal of the St. Louis Southwestern from reorganization proceedings was filed April 30, 1947, in the United States District Court in St. Louis. Following approval of the voluntary adjustment program by the ICC and the District Court, the trusteeship was formally terminated on July 24, 1947.

With cash accumulated during trusteeship, interest in default was paid in full and the principal of the company's first terminal and unifying mortgage and the guaranteed first mortgages of two subsidiary companies were paid. The note to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (purchased by the Southern Pacific Company) was financed by the payment in cash of all but one million dollars of the back interest, by the payment of the remaining back interest with a non-interest bearing note, and by the extension of the principal note for about twenty years, with interest at 3 per cent. Two short term notes to banks were financed by a cash payment of 20 per cent of the principal, with the balance payable over a five-year period at 2-1/2 per cent interest. The balance of the company's indebtedness, as well as its capital stock, remained intact. This is one of the few times that a Class I railroad has emerged from bankruptcy by paying its creditors in full and returning the property intact to its stockholders.

In emerging from its reorganization proceedings, the Cotton Belt's annual fixed charges were 36 per cent less than before it went into bankruptcy on December 12, 1935. During trusteeship fixed obligations aggregating $14,255,000 were paid.


Improvements During Trusteeship
During trusteeship numerous improvement programs were consummated. The entire line from Illmo, Missouri, to Mt. Pleasant, Texas, a distance of 486 miles, was relaid with 112-pound rail, which, in turn, released second-hand 85-pound rail that was installed on branch lines.

The equipment program included construction in the company-shops at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, of ten 4-8-4 class steam locomotives, purchase of five 5,400-horsepower diesel freight locomotives, purchase of twenty-three 1,000-horsepower diesel switchers, purchase and rebuilding of 32 second-hand steam locomotives, and the purchase or construction of nearly 2,000 units of freight and passenger car equipment.

Centralized traffic control was installed between Illmo and Dexter, Missouri, and between Pine Bluff and Texarkana, Arkansas, covering the operation of 191 miles of busy track. Improvements to mechanical facilities included the construction of a new roundhouse at Tyler, Texas, and the installation of modern machinery in the shops at Tyler and Pine Bluff.

Outstanding in freight handling facilities were the construction of a new inbound freight station at St. Louis, rebuilding and extension of the freight station at Dallas, Texas, and the construction of a transfer station at Pine Bluff, Arkansas.


F. W. Green
On August 6, 1947, Colonel F. W. Green was appointed president of the Cotton Belt, succeeding to the position held by Daniel Upthegrove, who retired September 15, 1946. The new president had been associated with the road since 1916 when he entered service as assistant to the first vice-president.

In 1917-1918 he was granted leave of absence to serve overseas with the United States Army Engineers. In 1919 he was appointed vice-president of the company. He was appointed operating officer for the trustee in November, 1937, and following the retirement of Upthegrove he became chief executive officer for the trustee, serving in that capacity until termination of the trusteeship, July 24, 1947. He retired on July 1, 1951.

Colonel Green was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on April 30, 1877. His first official railroad position was that of trainmaster for the Great Northern.


H. J. McKenzie
Upon the retirement of Colonel Green, H. J. McKenzie, who had been executive vice-president since January 1, 1951, was elevated to the presidency on July 1, 1951, thus, at age 46, becoming one of the nation's youngest railroad presidents.

Prior to assuming the vice-presidency of the railroad, McKenzie completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

A native of Houston, Texas, McKenzie first entered railroad service with the Southern Pacific there during the summer months of 1926. Following his graduation from Texas A. & M. College, he returned to the Southern Pacific in July, 1927, as a draftsman, and until 1936 was employed in various capacities in the engineering department of that railroad. During the next nine years he held the positions of chief draftsman, assistant to chief engineer, and assistant chief engineer until his promotion in 1945 to chief engineer.

Before coming to the Cotton Belt, McKenzie spent four years on construction work near Langtry, Texas. During that time he supervised construction of the Southern Pacific's bridge over the Pecos River, which is one of the highest railroad spans in the world. Built at a cost of $1,200,000, the bridge won an award for beauty from the American Institute of Steel Construction.


Service Award Program Inaugurated During 75th Anniversary
The 75th Anniversary of the opening of the Tyler Tap Railroad on October 1, 1877, provided the occasion in 1952 for an employe and public relations program to cultivate good will, add to company prestige, strengthen employe relations and stimulate traffic solicitation. The program was set in motion early in the year and closed with the distribution of a special Christmas greeting featuring the anniversary theme.

A design incorporating a diamond and the Cotton Belt emblem, along with the slogan "Progressive Transportation for Three-Quarters of a Century," was used in every conceivable manner throughout the year in advertisements, stationery and printed pieces.

In recognition of its many pioneering efforts, Cotton Belt advertising during its 75th Anniversary year featured some of the railroad's "Firsts."

Anniversary celebrations were held along the line and at off-line traffic agencies, including appropriate festivities and cake-cutting ceremonies. The three major celebrations were held in St. Louis, Pine Bluff and Tyler, with some 3,000 active employes attending.

A highlight of the anniversary celebrations was the presentation of service award pins to employes with 20 or more years of continuous service. Inaugurated during the anniversary year, the program provided for awards for each five years of service, beginning with 20 years and ending with 50 years. A total of 2,345 employes, eligible to receive awards during the year 1952, were presented service pins at the celebrations.

A special anniversary edition of Cotton Belt News, issued in October, was devoted to historical material and a pictorial presentation of the progressive role of the Cotton Belt in the over-all transportation effort. This special edition represented the most ambitious effort of the magazine which started in 1936 as a mimeographed sheet and became a full-fledged printed publication in March, 1945.

During celebration of Cotton Belt's Diamond anniversary in 1952, President H. J. McKenzie presented Mrs. James P. Douglas, widow of Cotton Belt's founder and first president, with a special 75-year service pin. It was during the same year that the railroad launched its service award program.

  Chapter Five: The Post-War Period  

When World War II ended, the Cotton Belt, along with the rest of the rail industry, re-entered the era of intensified competition with other forms of transportation which had relaxed their heavy inroads on rail traffic only because of war conditions.

A smooth-running, highly efficient railroad was required to fight the subsidized competition and to make both ends meet in the post-war period of spiraling costs of material, equipment and wages.

The era of rail expansion, of course, was long over. The program then, in spite of improvements made during trusteeship, became one of bettering the physical properties, improving service, and becoming more efficient in overall operations.


Dieselization of Motive Power
The introduction of the diesel-electric locomotive was a lifesaver for the rail industry, bringing with it revolutionary improvements in efficiency, economy and operating methods.

Diesel locomotives can start a heavy train from a standstill more quickly than a steam locomotive of the same horsepower, and can exert more pull at slow speeds. Moreover, diesels are ready to go to work at any time of the day or night. Between jobs they burn little or no fuel; they spend a great deal less time out of service than steam power, and shopping and repairs are radically less than the old power. In service they travel much longer distances without stopping for fuel and water.

First use of diesel power on the Cotton Belt was in 1942 when three 1000-horsepower switchers were purchased. Since that time more and more of these efficient power units have been added. By the end of 1953 the road was fully dieselized and all steam power had been disposed of or leased. Its rapid acquisition of diesel locomotives made the Cotton Belt one of the first railroads in the Southwest to be fully dieselized.

In 1957 the Cotton Belt owned 134 diesel-electric units, including six "general purpose" locomotives purchased in that year.

The major shop for making repairs to diesel locomotives is located at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where a complete repair service is maintained. At other points only running repairs are made.


Modernizing the Roadbed
Heavier locomotives and cars, together with higher speeds, made heavier rail necessary, and in 1948 the laying of 115-pound rail was begun. At that time 497 miles of 112-pound rail were in use in the main line. Since then the weight of rail used has increased rapidly, the first section of 136-pound rail being laid in 1957. That year, too, found rock ballast in the entire main line as well as on major subdivisions.

The company has followed a program of replacing open deck with ballast deck trestles on the main line, and where possible, to fill and abandon trestles.

In the Texarkana Reservoir Project, a flood-control unit of the U. S. Government located about eight miles southwest of Texarkana, Ark.-Tex., approximately 17.5 miles of the Cotton Belt's main line track had to be rebuilt at six different locations to raise it above flood level. All sections of the track were completed by 1956, the estimated cost being $6,000,000.


Centralized Traffic Control
The Cotton Belt, never a double-track road, realized that one of the most important factors in expediting trains, and thus giving better service, was the continuation of the centralized traffic control program inaugurated in 1941 but which had to be deferred during World War II.

Centralized traffic control is an electronic system of signals to control train movement. Train wheels act as contacts in an electrical track circuit to actuate signals and indicate exact location of all trains. The electric impulses light lamps on a track model board located in the dispatcher's office. Seated at his board he can control train movements for hundreds of miles. By flipping levers and pushing buttons on the panel before him, the dispatcher opens and closes railroad switches, shunts slow trains on to sidings, and expedites the meeting of trains running in opposite directions on the same track. With centralized traffic control a single-track railroad is able to handle up to 80 per cent more traffic with greater speed, efficiency and safety.

In 1956 the Cotton Belt completed, at a total cost of $5 ^ million, the program begun in 1941, and as of 1957 operated over 752 miles of signal-protected track from St. Louis, Missouri, to Corsicana, Texas.


Freight Stations Enlarged and Modernized
To handle freight more efficiently it was necessary to make extensions to freight stations at three major points. Offices in many of the freight stations were remodeled and air-conditioned.

In May, 1947, a transfer station was put into operation at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Containing offices and locker rooms, this facility is 480 feet long and accommodates 60 cars at one time, in addition to motor trucks which perform pickup and delivery service. Carloads of miscellaneous merchandise loaded at points in northern, eastern and southern territories, carded direct to Pine Bluff, are consolidated into cars going to cities in Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana and Texas. Likewise, cars of L.C.L. freight moving north and east are handled at the transfer station.

In 1945 the St. Louis freight station facilities were added to by the construction of a new building 250 feet long by 34 feet wide, east of the original station, and additional tracks were provided. Four years later another building 465 feet long with ample driveways and three tracks to accommodate 29 cars was constructed to handle outbound freight for the Cotton Belt and Southwestern Transportation Company.

The freight station facilities at Dallas, Texas, have been enlarged three different times during the last decade. The first addition, a steel and concrete structure 615 feet long and 50 feet wide, was completed in January, 1947, and the second addition, 300 x 50 feet, was completed in November, 1956. Modern in every respect, the new structures, coupled with that part of the old station not rebuilt, provides a station 1219 feet long. In March, 1954, there was completed a fireproof freight handling building. This structure, adjacent to the freight house and measuring 40 x 408 feet, was constructed of on-the-ground prefabricated "tilt-up" concrete walls.

A general salvage warehouse was set up at Fort Worth, Texas, in 1948 to handle disposition of all refused and unclaimed freight, thus centralizing the operation and relieving local station forces of the responsibility.

A new $157,000 fireproof freight station at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was constructed in 1957. The building, 60 x 204 feet, has a two-story, air-conditioned office building at one end to accommodate personnel of the freight office as well as those in the industrial, traffic and claim departments, together with Southwestern Transportation Company personnel.


Pine Bluff Gravity Yard
The most important yard change in the history of the Cotton Belt was in the process of taking shape in 1957 when the building of a modern electronic gravity yard was started at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a central location on the railroad.

Every modern feature will be provided, including radio, intercoms, pneumatic tube system, yardmaster's tower, and complete flood lighting for around-the-clock operation.

Push-button controls will guide the cars through the labyrinth of automatic power switches to the desired classification tracks. As the cars roll, they will pass over an electronic computer which automatically determines various rollability factors such as weight, speed, wind and other weather conditions. The computer feeds this information to re-tarders or braking devices on the tracks which apply the necessary braking pressure to slow the cars down to a speed that will insure gentle coupling to other cars, thus avoiding damage to lading and equipment.

Twenty-eight classification tracks will be provided with a total capacity of 1300 cars, but the yard design is such that it can be expanded to 40 classification tracks.

In addition to the classification tracks, the new yard will contain rip track facilities for making repairs to 70 freight cars at a time and also contain a 56-car capacity track for cleaning cars. The local and storage yard will have eight tracks with a capacity of 357 cars.

The new yard will permit additional blocking of trains and will improve delivery to rail connections and consignees, as well as expedite furnishing of equipment to shippers.

There will be nine receiving and departure tracks, each with a capacity of 140 cars, equipped with remotely controlled switches so trains may enter and depart without stopping.

As trains arrive in the yard to be broken up, the cars will be pushed over two 140-car capacity lead tracks to the crest of the hump. As the cars descend by gravity down the grade on their way to various classification tracks, electronic equipment will take over.

A portion of the yard will be in operation about December, 1958, and the entire yard should be operating by June, 1959.


Other Yard Improvements and New Freight Equipment
With increasing use of diesel locomotives capable of handling longer trains, and the use of centralized traffic control, many yards were improved. Passing tracks were lengthened and some new ones laid. Two-way communication systems have been installed in many yards, and most yard offices have been air-conditioned.

Yardmaster control towers have been erected at major yards. These high glass-enclosed towers permit yardmasters to view their entire yards and with modern two-way communication systems, they are able to direct the operation of the yards with greater efficiency.

In the decade following World War II, Cotton Belt purchased or built 4,450 new units of freight equipment, of which 3,200 were new box cars. In addition, 80 flat cars were equipped for handling of truck trailers in "piggyback" service.


"Piggyback Service"
More than a quarter of a century ago, in 1930, the Cotton Belt, in cooperation with the Southwestern Transportation Company, a wholly-owned motor carrier subsidiary, experimented with piggyback service, thus gaining pioneer experience in this phase of transportation. Due to the business depression of those days, the experiment was discontinued because the low volume of full-truck shipments then moving made the special handling uneconomical.

In September of 1954 the Cotton Belt began handling trailers of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Southwestern Transportation Company, in rail service. Such trailers contain common carrier motor freight originated by the Southwestern Transportation Company or received by it from its connecting common carrier motor lines.

The railroad's first piggyback service under rail rates and billing began on June 14, 1955, between St. Louis-East St. Louis and points on the Cotton Belt and Southern Pacific in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas on a limited number of commodities. Later, on February 15, 1956, the service was broadened by publishing a full line of class and commodity rates to apply between Chicago, Twin Cities, Milwaukee and other Wisconsin points and the same Southwestern points. On September 8, 1956, the service was widened to include selected Eastern points such as New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc. It is expected that by the close of 1957 the Cotton Belt will be participating in transcontinental trailer-on-flat-car (piggyback) service. The Cotton Belt was the first railroad to handle Class A explosives in piggyback service.


Operations Into Sherman, Texas
In 1953, by authority of an Interstate Commerce Commission order dated August 17, a branch line, 51.24 miles in length, extending from Commerce to Sherman, Texas, was abandoned.

At the same time, the Interstate Commerce Commission granted the Cotton Belt authority to acquire trackage rights over, and joint use of, Texas & New Orleans Railroad Company's track between Piano and Sherman, Texas. Under arrangement which became effective September 28, 1953, the Cotton Belt operates its own trains into Sherman over this track.


Lease of Texas Properties and Proposed Merger of Other Subsidiary Lines
The Interstate Commerce Commission, by its order of December 18, 1953, authorized the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company to lease and operate all of the railroad properties of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas, including those operated by the latter company under agreements, and including the terminal property and facilities of the Dallas Terminal Railway and Union Depot Company. Such lease agreement was entered into as of March 1, 1954, since which date all the Texas lines have been operated by St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, a Missouri corporation.

Following approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission of the lease of the Texas properties, plans were made for erection of a $1-1/2 million general office building at Tyler, Texas. The ultra-modern, air-conditioned building, containing an acre of space on each of the three floors, was dedicated on March 22, 1955, and permitted consolidation under one roof of the personnel in Tyler which for many years had been housed in various buildings throughout the city, as well as some personnel transfered from St. Louis, Missouri.

As of September 1, 1957, plans were well advanced to merge into the parent Missouri company, St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, certain wholly-owned subsidiary companies, viz.: Gray's Point Terminal Railway Company, Paragould Southeastern Railway Company, Valley Terminal Railway and The Shreveport Bridge & Terminal Company. It is expected that this matter will be consummated during 1957 or early in 1958.


Industrialization Program
Since World War II, industry has realized the economic advantages of decentralizing operations by constructing branch plants in or near the trade territory to be served. This has created a demand for industrial acreage in smaller communities which are situated near the larger trade centers. Recognizing this trend, the Cotton Belt has purchased industrial acreage at strategic points along its line to anticipate the need for property devoted strictly to industrial development, and to protect the interest of future industries desiring a southwest location. Many nationally-known concerns have taken advantage of these properties, and their location on Cotton Belt tracks has proved profitable for the companies, the railroad and the communities involved.

Many smaller communities on the Cotton Belt have adopted a plan of industrial foundations to assist in the location of new industries by providing sound financial assistance. Such foundations are usually under the sponsorship of the local chamber of commerce. The Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, under the leadership of Winthrop Rockefeller, is active in an effort to attract new industries to Arkansas. Texas and Louisiana are also actively engaged in publicizing their industrial advantages. The Missouri Delta Development Commission, representing a 7-county area in the "Boot Heel" section of Missouri, is very active in soliciting new industries for that territory.

The Cotton Belt works very closely with chambers of commerce, industrial foundations and other organizations, in a cooperative effort to locate industry in the Southwest, particularly along its line. During 1956 the railroad located an average of three new industries per week on its rails. It actively advertises not only the advantages of its own industrial areas, but those of the states through which it operates.


Shift in Traffic and Population
During the first four decades of its operations the Cotton Belt depended largely for its revenues on traffic originating at on-line points —products of forests, agriculture and mines. During the years just prior to and immediately following World War I, economic transition in the Southwest began to take place. Virgin timber lands became depleted and North Pacific Coast lumber began to replace yellow pine lumber in the Eastern markets. Metal began to replace hardwood lumber used extensively in automobile bodies, refrigerators and other such articles.

When the production of cotton, the staple crop of the Southwest, was initiated in foreign countries as well as in the western states of Arizona and California, it adversely affected the market for cotton produced in the Southwest.

Subsequent to World War I, pipe lines, highway and water transportation started making inroads on rail traffic, and the constant dwindling of Cotton Belt's revenues compelled it to seek new sources of income. It was apparent that the road could not continue to subsist upon traffic originating and terminating on its line, and that its future existence depended upon its ability to participate in a substantial volume of overhead or bridge traffic.

The territory served by the Cotton Belt is highly competitive. One stretch of its main line between Illmo, Missouri and Corsicana, Texas, 628 miles, is intersected 20 times by other railroads, which means a competitive station on the average of about every 32 miles.

As the population and growth of the nation moved westward, the Cotton Belt was well located geographically to participate in overhead traffic, and concentrated efforts to attract such traffic proved fruitful as reflected in the fact that today more than half of its traffic is of that type.

When the Cotton Belt ran its first narrow-gauge train between Tyler and Big Sandy, Texas, in 1877, there were 20 other railroads operating in the state with a total mileage of only 2,210. The population of the state at that time was a little over a million. Eighty years later, the railroad mileage in Texas, as well as the population of that state, is nearly eight times as great. In the four-state area served by the railroad today, there are more than three times as many inhabitants as lived in that area in 1877.

During the 1940-50 period, the population of the four states through which the Cotton Belt operates increased 12 per cent, while the population of the counties and parishes traversed by the Cotton Belt increased 12.2 per cent. The six metropolitan areas on the railroad experienced a 28.2 per cent increase, and as of 1950 the inhabitants of the four states comprised 10.8 per cent of the total population of the United States.

  Chapter Six: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow  

The Cotton Belt Route came into being in 1877 to serve a fast-growing nation and has played an important part in the development of the vast Southwest. Its founders were strong in Faith, and in Courage. They had faith in America—in its people—in its future. Though physical obstacles were many, and financial obligations heavy and non-assuring, they were not afraid to venture, for theirs was the courage of the pioneers.

To provide transportation service between existing cities and towns was not their only objective. That, though important, was secondary. The dominant purpose was to develop the area as a whole—to expand the old and create the new: new towns, new cities, new markets. From the seed of financial sacrifice would spring the service; through service the development; but long delayed would be the harvest of their investment.

Yes, they had Faith and Courage—they had Vision, too!

They knew, in their day, that not all of their dreams would be realized, nor all prophecies fulfilled; yet in their time they saw those dreams take shape—development begun. They witnessed a new Empire expanding into greatness in the Southwest: teeming cities, bustling towns and budding villages—great factories ahum with turning wheels— fertile fields with the blessing of abundance—the heart of Earth gushing "liquid gold" to enrich the nation and to serve the world—homes and schools multiplying—parks and playgrounds increasing—new churches sending spires aloft inviting benediction from the blue—commerce in increasing volume speeding to and fro along the rails of smooth and gleaming steel.

The men who today direct the destiny of the Cotton Belt are proud of their railroad—its 1560 miles of track operating in the states of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, with a connection into Memphis, Tennessee. They are also proud of its contribution to the development of the territory it is privileged to serve. They know that the romantic age of rail expansion is over. Their job, though, is an important one, for Today is an age of intense competition—a survival of the fittest—in which various forms of transportation vie for the traffic of America. They know that the Cotton Belt and other railroads of America must, with increased efficiency through modern operation, continue to serve the nation.

To serve efficiently and unreservedly was, is, and shall be, the unchanging policy of St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company—Yesterday—Today—Tomorrow.

  Photo captions, in order as they appear in this publication:  
[Photo caption]: This gold bond, issued early in 1877 by the promoters of the original Cotton Belt line bore an excellent 7 per cent rate of interest. Other side of the bond, a beautiful piece of fancy engraving, now yellow with age, bears a picture of a train with high mountains (of which there are none on the railroad) in the background. Half of the bond, which is the size of a newspaper page, is taken up by 40 coupons, each worth $35.00.
[Photo caption]: This woodburner, the A. W. Soper, built by Grant Locomotive Works in 1882, was changed to standard gauge at the Tyler, Texas, shops in 1889.
[Photo caption}: The John Krauss in 1884, with tender full of wood. Changed to standard gauge in 1887.
[Photo caption]: The 0. B. Filley, o 2-6-0 woodburner, purchased in 1882 from Grant Locomotive Works. Note tender filled with wood cut from forests through which the road ran. Also note tree stump within 2 feet of tracks.
[Photo caption]: On opposite page is an advertisement published in 1883. At that time Cotton Belt had no branch lines which, it argued, prevented cars from "getting astray". Also note how the narrow gauge road handled the vexing problem of interchange with standard gauge connections.
[Photo caption]: Spike-driving ceremony held at Rob Roy, Ark., in 1883 in celebration of the completion of the Cotton Belt (then extending from the west bank of the Mississippi River at Bird's Point, Mo., to Gatesville, Texas).
[Photo caption]: This photo, made in 1903, shows old No. 97 pulling a train off the rail ferry at Bird's Point, Mo. For many years the Cotton Belt ferried its trains across the river between that point and Cairo, III.
[Photo caption]: Mississippi river in 1904 on a rampage, flooding Cotton Belt yards at Bird's Point, Mo., where cars were ferried across river. Displaced families of the area took refuge on railroad's transfer shed platform.
[Photo caption]: Advertisement published in 1883 announced completion of Cotton Belt. In those days interchange was made with the Illinois Central Railroad and Cairo Short Line at Cairo, Ill., after trains were ferried across the Mississippi River.
[Photo caption]: Building with tower occupying right-hand portion of this picture was built in early 1880's at Tyler, Texas, by Kansas & Gulf Short Line and Texas & St. Louis for depot and offices. Structure on left was added by St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad for office building. Guide book published in 1883 commented: "James Lyon, who has the management of the dining rooms at the T&StL Railway depot, Tyler, sets an elegant table, and passengers are allowed time to get meals before trains leave, at the moderate charge of fifty cents."
[Photo caption]: Train robber Shang Doland and Colonel Fordyce
[Photo caption]: On a memorable day, October 18, 1886, a remarkable performance made railroad history. In a race against time, that part of the line from Bird's Point, Missouri to Texarkana, Ark.-Tex.—419 miles—was converted from narrow to standard gauge in 24 hours.
[Photo caption]: Driving the golden spike, April 6, 1888, in ceremonies marking the entrance of the Cotton Belt into Shreveport, La.
[Photo caption]: No. 4, used by Kansas & Gulf Short Line Railroad (now Cotton Belt's Lufkin Branch). Built in 1880 by Brooks Locomotive Works. Sold in 1886.
[Photo caption]: Nestling in the piney woods of East Texas, the original Cotton Belt hospital (above) was completed at Tyler in 1888. Needing a more centrally located hospital, a new site was selected in 1904 at Texarkana, Ark., where a hospital (below) was built on a 37-acre tract. Standing majestically on a hill, the structure is surrounded by park-like grounds. Its facilities and services have kept pace with the times. In 1927, a nurses' home was erected on the grounds.
[Photo caption]: This 4-4-0 Rome-built locomotive sank to the bottom of the Red River in 1887 when a bridge gave way. Several years later it was raised and pulled to the Pine Bluff, Ark., shops. One week later, after an overhaul, it was again in service.
[Photo caption]: The CHARLES MERRIAM, a ten-car railroad transfer boat used to ferry Cotton Belt trains across the Mississippi River between Gray's Point, Mo., and Thebes, III. It frequently hauled as many as 200 cars a day. When the Thebes bridge was completed in April, 1905, it threw the Merriam out of work.
[Photo caption]: No. 1, used by Paragould Southeastern Railway—now a branch line of the Cotton Belt.
[Photo caption]: This photo, taken a couple of years before the turn of the century, shows horse-drawn plows and graders being used in preparing site of shops at Tyler, Texas. Shortly before World War I the wooden water tank and supports caught fire and presented a unique sight as flames shot upward and water poured downward.
[Photo caption]: Taken from the seat of a wagon, this picture shows flag-raising ceremonies at Tyler, Texas on the occasion of the opening of new shops in 1898.
[Photo caption]: No. 107, built by Dickson Locomotive Works in 1886, shown pulling passenger train at Tyler station. Flues atop cars indicate train was heated with coal stoves.
[Photo caption]: Cotton Belt crosses Mississippi River ot Memphis over Harahan bridge.
[Photo caption]: No. 54, built by Rogers Locomotive Works in 1903, was scrapped in 1932.
[Photo caption]: Baldwin built this Mogul-type freight locomotive in 1906. After 43 years' work it was still useful when sold to a smaller railroad.
[Photo caption]: This 10-wheeler Baldwin worked 36 years before being scrapped in 1946.
[Photo caption]: No. 196 was built by Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1888.
[Photo caption]: Span on Cotton Belt bridge across the Red River at Shreveport, La., opens to allow dredge boat of U.S. Corps of Engineers to pass.
[Photo caption]: Reproduction of newspaper article published in 1905 upon completion of Thebes (Illinois) bridge spanning the Mississippi River. The structure, considered an engineering marvel, was designed by Ralph Modjeski. Conductor of first train over bridge was W. G. Conyers, shown in insert photo.
[Photo caption]: During the 1920's the Agricultural Department used this bus equipped with loud speakers to bring its educational program to the farmers along the railroad.
[Photo caption]: As part of its educational work among farmers, the Agricultural and Industrial Department operated a special demonstration train over the railroad during 1914-15. The train, carrying livestock and sample agricultural products, was visited by 90,000 people.
[Photo caption]: In the Cotton Belt's highly successful fight against malaria along its line, this car (named after the Anopheles mosquito—carrier of the disease), filled with exhibits, and with a lecturer aboard, moved over the railroad in the educational part of the program.
[Photo caption]: On the former 300-acre experimental farm near Alto, Texas, Cotton Belt now grows trees from seedlings. Primary purpose is to show farmers the advantages of planting uncultivated land to prevent soil erosion as well as for the profitable production of timber.
[Photo caption]: Although primarily a freight line from its inception, the Cotton Belt has experimented with different types of rail passenger service. Gasoline-electric combination locomotive - baggage - passenger units, such as shown in photo at right, were used on branch lines as early as 1914. The ever-increasing use of private and common carrier motor vehicles, however, has forced it to discontinue all of its branch line and much of its main line passenger train service.
[Photo caption]: In its war on malaria, railroad field crews dug drainage ditches to eliminate stagnant pools of water—breeding places of mosquitoes.
[Photo caption]: This Mogul-type freight locomotive had served the Cotton Belt well for 31 years when it was sold in 1946.
[Photo caption]: Early in 1922 the industries of this country appeared to be marking time, and the prospect of an early return to industrial activity seemed slight. Twenty freight locomotives, each weighing 441,900 pounds, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Southern Pacific Lines, were moved over Cotton Belt rails in a solid train from East St. Louis, Illinois, to Corsicana, Texas. The train was appropriately called the "Prosperity Special" in the hope the name would symbolize happy days ahead. The twenty-locomotive train is shown at Illmo, Missouri, as it crossed the Mississippi River on the Thebes Bridge.
[Photo caption]: Coordinated rail-highway service is effected by joint efforts of the railroad and its trucking subsidiary, Southwestern Transportation Company.
[Photo caption]: Southwestern Transportation Company originally operated highway passenger service; later sold this part of its business to the Southwestern Greyhound Lines, Inc.
[Photo caption:] This high-speed merchandise train, pulled by a passenger-type locomotive, and carded as a first-class train, was inaugurated in 1931. For several years it was regarded as the "world's fastest freight train". It set the pattern for "hot shot" freights.
[Photo caption:] Pickup and delivery service is afforded by trucks of Southwestern Transportation Company.
[Photo caption:] No. 570, Consolidation-type freight locomotive, weighed 151 tons. Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1913. Dismantled in 1950.
[Photo caption:] 4-8-4 type oil-burning locomotive built by Cotton Belt at Pine Bluff, Ark., shops in 1937.
[Photo caption:] One of five 4-8-2 locomotives purchased from Florida East Coast Railway in 1936. Built by American in 1924; scrapped in 1953.
[Photo caption:] On the opposite page are pictured three types of diesel-electric locomotives in Cotton Belt service. At top is a 1,000-h.p. switch engine, at center is 1,600-h.p. road switcher, and at bottom is a 2-unit road freight engine with 1,350-h.p. per unit.
[Photo caption:] Electrical impulses created by train wheels actuate lights on a track board, thus indicating exact location of all trains. Dispatcher can control train movement for hundreds of miles. With levers and push buttons he opens and closes switches, signals trains to go on sidings, and greatly expedites train movement. A single-track railroad can, with centralized traffic control, handle up to 80 per cent more traffic with greater speed, efficiency and safety.
[Photo caption:] Preventive medicine for diesel engines consists of scientific testing of water, fuel and lubricating oil in company laboratory at Pine Bluff, Ark.
[Photo caption:] Florida Street station, St. Louis, Mo. The five-story building on left is the freight station and warehouse opened in 1913. Buildings on right were added in 1945 and 1949.
[Photo caption:] Diesel service shed at Pine Bluff, Ark., built in 1952, houses four 200-ft.-long service pits and overhead monorail crane.
[Photo caption:] Shown on opposite page, lower photo, is a 50-foot yardmaster tower, complete with air-conditioning, paneled walls, tile floor, drinking fountain, rest room, tinted glass windows, venetion blinds, fluorescent lighting and a two-man electric elevator. Photo at top shows yardmaster in full view of yard operations speaking over a two-way communication system to man in yard (center photo).
[Photo caption:] Cotton Belt experimented with "piggyback" service back in 1930 in cooperation with Southwestern Transportation Company.
[Photo caption:] Cotton Belt's presently expanding piggyback service, in which truck trailers are handled by rail, began September 1, 1954.
[Photo caption:] Cotton Belt's air-conditioned general office building at Tyler, Texas, dedicated March, 1955. Costing $1-1/2 million with equipment, it contains three acres of floor space and boasts a 500-seat auditorium.
[Photo caption:] The 1100-acre Trinity Industrial District, nestling at the feet of downtown Dallas Tex was opened in 1946. It is served by the T&P, CRI&P and Cotton Belt.
[Photo caption:] On the opposite page, from top to bottom, are shown a boxcar for merchandise, a covered hopper car for bulk commodities, and a rack car for pulpwood—three of the many types of cars needed to fill shipper requirements.
[Photo caption:] Part of diesel-electric locomotive shop at Pine Bluff, Ark., showing modern machine shop section with its drills, lathes and other machinery.
[Photo caption:] Highest safety award, the E. H. Harriman Gold Medal, was presented to the Cotton Belt for its outstanding safety performance during 1952.
[Photo caption:] Use of a cotton bale as an emblem or trade mark in the 1880's gave impression the railroad traversed nothing but cotton-growing country, thus deterring needed immigration from the north and east. Emblem on the right, designed at that time, is still in use.
[Photo caption:] Inside back cover shows artist's sketch of $5-1/2 million electronic gravity yard being built by Cotton Belt at Pine Bluff, Ark. It is anticipated that the entire facility will be in operation by mid-1959.
[Text balloon]: FIRST in the Southwest to use oil as locomotive fuel .
[Text balloon]: FIRST to organize a sanitary engineering department to improve health conditions
[Text balloon]: FIRST to feature coordinated train-truck service.
[Text balloon]: FIRST to give shippers passenger-train freight schedules.
[Text balloon]: FIRST to offer consignees progress reports of freight enroute.
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.