"Tap Line Case" Summary of Sabine & Northern 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.  

SABINE & NORTHERN RAILROAD. The Sabine & Northern Railroad Company is controlled, through the ownership of its entire capital stock, by a lumber company known as the Sabine Tram Company, which has a mill at Juanita, La., and another at Deweyville, Tex. The lumber company has some 23,000 acres of timberland in Louisiana which is reached by the tap line, and a tract of approximately 60,000 acres in Texas. The mill at Deweyville has been in operation since 1899, but the mill at Juanita was built more recently.

The Sabine & Northern connects with the Kansas City Southern at Smyth Junction and extends westward for about 5 miles to a camp or logging town known as Blewett and having a population of about 500. From Juanita Junction, which is about 1 mile west of Smyth Junction, a track runs northward for a distance of 32 miles parallel to and joining the Kansas City Southern at Juanita. These tracks are laid with 35 and 50 pound steel rails, and the right of way is apparently owned by the tap line.

The tap line enjoys trackage rights over the Kansas City Southern from Smyth Junction southward for 8 miles to De Quincy, and westward about 21 miles to Ruliff, on the west bank of the Sabine River in the state of Texas. From Ruliff it operates over a track 11 miles long owned jointly by the Texarkana & Fort Smith, a part of the Kansas City Southern system, and the Sabine Tram Company, to the mill at Deweyville. It is of interest to observe that the trackage rights in question originated in a contract entered into between the Kansas City Southern and the Sabine Tram Company, before the opening of the mill at Juanita and the building of the tracks into that point; that this contract was subsequently assigned to the tap line when organized; and that it is limited to the movement by the tap line over the Kansas City Southern of trainloads, of logs belonging to the Sabine Tram Company. The joint track from Ruliff to Deweyville was laid in 1899 and is used by the Sabine & Northern simply for the movement of logs to the lumber company's mill at that point; the Texarkana & Fort Smith apparently furnishes a general freight service for Deweyville, a town of 1,500 inhabitants. The right of way for the joint track, was furnished by the lumber company, which did the grading and furnished the ties, while the Texarkana & Fort Smith supplied and laid the steel.

The tap line was incorporated in February, 1906, for the purpose, as is admitted of record, of legalizing divisions from the Kansas City Southern. Its equipment consists of one locomotive, one flat car, and a caboose, together with a second locomotive and 70 log cars which it rents from the lumber company. The locomotives have proper safety appliances.

The lumber company has unincorporated logging spurs aggregating in length about 16 miles and extending into the timber from the terminus of the incorporated tap line at the logging camp known as Blewett. The lumber company operates these spurs and with its own power moves the logs to Blewett. They are then taken by the locomotive of the tap line to the mill at Juanita, no charge being made against the lumber company for this service. The lumber produced at the Juanita mill is loaded directly on the tracks of the Kansas City Southern, which switches the cars to and from the mill. The tap line also takes carloads of logs at Blewett and hauls them over its own rails to Smyth Junction, and thence, under the trackage rights heretofore referred to, over the Kansas City Southern to Ruliff and the joint track to Deweyville. It pays the Kansas City Southern $1.75 per car for the trackage right and makes a charge against the lumber company of $5.25 per car for the entire movement of the logs from Blewett to Deweyville. This charge, however, is subsequently refunded by the tap line on four carloads of logs for each carload of lumber shipped out, the rates established by the Kansas City Southern and participated in by the tap line being on the milling-in-transit plan. The lumber produced at the Deweyville mill is moved by the Texarkana & Fort Smith from the mill. It will be seen therefore that in the case of each of the two mills the tap line hauls the logs but does not haul the lumber. It receives an allowance from the Kansas City Southern of from three-fourths cent to 3 cents per 100 pounds, except to destinations in the state of Texas, and to certain other territories where no division is allowed. It is claimed that the bulk of the business goes to points where the Sabine & Northern has no allowances, but the proof is not definite on this point.

The traffic of the Sabine & Northern consists almost entirely of the logs of the Sabine Tram Company and supplies for its logging camp and employees. Its whole tonnage for the year 1910, exclusive of forest products, was 1,435 tons, of which 235 tons was coal and 279 tons iron and steel. All of this freight was inbound, nothing being moved out except logs. No charge is made for such few passengers as are carried, and it has no special facilities for the handling of traffic for the public if any were offered.

It files annual reports with the Commission, from which it appears that the operating expenses shown on its books are slightly in excess of the revenues.

The Kansas City Southern or its subsidiary line, the Texarkana & Fort Smith, takes the manufactured lumber from both of the mills of the proprietary company. Upon the facts of the case, therefore, no allowance may lawfully be made out of the rates on the traffic of these mills. The trackage right acquired over the Kansas City Southern crosses the state line; although assigned by the lumber company to its tap line, the agreement limits the right to the logs of the controlling lumber company. This we regard as of doubtful validity.

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.