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

FREEO VALLEY RAILROAD. The record indicates that the sawmill and planing mill of the Eagle Lumber Company at Eagle Mills, La., have been in operation more than 25 years and are served by short spur tracks connecting with the rails of the Cotton Belt. The logs are brought into the mill over a track about 22 miles in length, most of which was constructed a few years after the building of the mills, and which was incorporated in 1904 as the Freeo Valley Railroad Company. When this corporation was formed the lumber company declared a dividend that was utilized by its stockholders in securing shares in the tap line. The two corporations are identical in interest, and with one exception their officers are the same. Beyond the incorporated track already referred to, which terminates at a point known as Princeton junction, there is about 17 miles of unincorporated tracks owned by the lumber company itself. The first 21 miles of this track, however, seems to be treated as a part of the incorporated line to the extent that the tap line runs logging trains for that distance to a town known as Princeton, which had a population of about 400, and seems once to have been a county seat. The first 3 miles of the line out of Eagle Mills extends through pine land, the next 7 miles through a farming country that has been cut over by the lumber company, and the remainder through timber which when cut over will be available only for orchard purposes. The tap line has no equipment of its own, but uses 2 locomotives, 61 logging cars, and 1 other car that belong to the lumber company, no charge being made therefore.

The tap line moves the logs over the unincorporated track from Princeton to Princeton junction, and thence over its own rails to the mill, where they are unloaded by the trainmen. For the service over the unincorporated track from Princeton to Princeton Junction, and the unloading, the lumber company pays the tap line $2 per car. The trunk line spots the empties at the mill and takes away the loaded cars of lumber. It pays the tap line a division of from 1 to 24 cents per 100 pounds out of the joint rates on yellow-pine lumber, which are the same from Princeton junction as from Eagle Mills.

The tap line does not carry passengers and it has very little traffic other than forest products. During the year 1910 it is estimated that the logs moved for the lumber company aggregated in weight about 108,000 tons. Mention is made on the record of 15 carloads of fertilizer hauled for various farmers during that year, and it is said that the merchandise and miscellaneous freight, including this fertilizer, amounted to 5,524 tons. Its report to the Commission, however, shows only 718 tons of agricultural products, of which 589 tons were inbound hay and grain, 1,220 tons of coal and other mine products, and 115 tons of merchandise and manufactured articles. Its report for the year 1911 shows a total traffic exclusive of forest products of 2,0153 tons.

There is one yellow-pine mill on the line and a small hardwood mill which is engaged exclusively in cutting ties, but their tonnage added to the traffic of the farmers and settlers on the line was so small, as compared with the tonnage of the lumber company, as to make during the year covered by the record less than 10 per cent of the total movement of the tap line. Moreover, it will be noted that the hardwood mill pays a flat rate of $15 per car to the tap line in addition to the rate of the Cotton Belt from the junction point. There are no joint through rates on class and commodity freight.

The annual reports to the Commission indicate substantial net operating revenues and a surplus on June 30, 1910, of nearly $50,000, a large portion of which had been actually expended in extensions and betterments. Previous to February, 1911, no charge was made for less- than-carload movements of merchandise.

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.