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

EL DORADO & WESSON RAILWAY. In 1904 the Edgar Lumber Company purchased a small mill at Wesson, Ark., which delivered its manufactured product to the Arkansas Southern Railroad, a subsidiary line of the Rock Island system, by means of a branch or spur track about 5 miles in length, owned by the Arkansas Southern but operated by the lumber company. This track joined the Arkansas Southern at a point known as Cornie Junction and was built of steel weighing only 20 and 30 pounds to the yard, the individual rails being from 6 inches to 30 feet in length. The capacity of the mill was increased, and its owners incorporated the El Dorado & Wesson Railway Company and built a track from the mill northward for about 10 miles to El Dorado, where a connection is had with the Rock Island and the Iron Mountain. Before the tap line was built a contract was entered into with the Rock Island, which, in addition to providing for allowances to the tap line out of the joint rates on the one hand, and the delivery of the majority of its tonnage to the Rock Island on the other hand, contemplated that the Rock Island would contribute not to exceed $100,000 toward the construction of the tap line. As a matter of fact, its contributions aggregated $112,000, for which it demanded no note or other evidence of indebtedness from the lumber. company or tap line. This amount had been repaid to the Rock Island at the date of the hearing, with the exception of about $50,000. It was repaid in the sense that the Rock Island had retained its divisions to the aggregate of about $75,000 on the outbound product of the lumber company. These divisions range from 1-1/2 to 5 cents per 100 pounds and average more than 4 cents. The contract provided for the repayment of the sum advanced by the Rock Island within a period of four years, but this has been wholly disregarded by the parties to it. Here, then, is a case where a lumber company acquires property of large value by an allowance made to it out of the rate on its traffic. The tap line claims to have expended $50,000 for equipment. The record shows, however, that the equipment was purchased by the lumber company and turned over to the tap line in exchange for its capital stock to that amount. This is its only outstanding stock.

The equipment of the tap line consists of 1 locomotive, 1 passenger coach, 1 baggage car, 4 box and 3 flat cars. It runs one mixed train daily in each direction, on which passengers and the mail are carried. The revenue from its passenger service for the fiscal year 1910, as reported to the Commission, was $5,523.67, and a slightly less amount for the year 1911. Its total traffic for the year 1910 was 40,487 tons and its revenue thereon $37,608.28, as reported to the Commission. Of this tonnage 36,433 tons is stated of record as the weight of the lumber forwarded by the Edgar Lumber Company. The traffic in farm products and supplies for settlers is small, although the country through which it runs is said to have been occupied as a farming community before the Civil War. El Dorado, the junction point with the trunk lines, is the county seat and has a population of 7,000. Wesson is apparently a mill town with about 800 inhabitants. There is a small cotton gin at Wesson and three or four merchants.

The lumber company owns an unincorporated logging track which is operated under the name of Cornie Valley Railroad, 12 to 15 miles being described as main line and the remaining 10 or 12 miles as spurs. This track extends westward from the mill into the timber. It is not so well built as the incorporated tap line and has some grades as high as 8 per cent. In the operation of the Cornie Valley rail-road the lumber company uses 4 locomotives, 3 flat cars, 2 box cars, and 75 logging cars, with which it hauls the logs to the mill. It appears that there is another small mill and some "settlers in the vicinity of the Cornie Valley and that their freight is hauled to Wesson in about the same way that the El Dorado & Wesson hauls traffic for settlers along its lines, but the Cornie Valley claims not to hold itself out as a common carrier. It appears, however, that occasional carloads of staves are loaded along the Cornie Valley, and that its charge, amounting to about $10 per car, is shown on the waybill as advances and collected from the consignee at Memphis or other destination. It is said that construction has begun on an extension of the El Dorado & Wesson southward to Homer, La., and that the citizens of that town, which is already served by the Louisiana & Northwest, have voted a tax. We infer from the record that the lumber company owns or proposes to acquire timber holdings in that direction.

In this case we fix the maximum division that this tap line may lawfully receive out of the rate at 2 cents per 100 pounds.

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.