Zwolle & Eastern Railway, Historical Notes, 1899-1922  
  Brief History  
The Zwolle & Eastern Railway (Z&E) was incorporated in 1904 to take over the tram road of the Sabine Lumber Company, who had established a mill in 1899 at Zwolle in Sabine Parish. The Z&E traversed a heavily timbered territory southwest of Zwolle to the Sabine River, then in a northerly direction to a point called Blue Lake. By the early 1920s the line was extended across Bayou San Miguel to Sanderson. The railroad carried freight throughout its extistance, and operated passenger service until 1917. According to ICC records, a number of smaller mills were also built along the line, but forest resources were largely depleted by 1921 and the Zwolle & Eastern was formally discontinued in early 1922. -- Murry Hammond
Maps (1913-1922)
Zwolle & Eastern Map
Zwolle & Eastern Map
The Zwolle & Eastern as it looked on the 1913 map issued by the Railroad Commission of Louisiana. [Click image to go to map page]   The Zwolle & Eastern as it looked near the end of operations on the 1922 map issued by the Public Service Commission of Louisiana. [Click image to go to map page]
  The Sabine Lumber Company built a sawmill at Zwolle in Sabine Parish, Louisiana in 1899, extending a tram road a number of miles into the company's timber lands west and southwest of the mill. [ICC, 1911]  
  On September 1, 1904, Sabine Lumber's incorporated 14 miles of its industrial trackage between the mill and a point called "Blue Lake" as the "Zwolle & Eastern Railway Company." [Railroad Commission of Louisiana, 1906]  
Zwolle & Eastern Map
Zwolle & Eastern Map
The Zwolle & Eastern took out this advertisement in the 1906 Official Guide of Railways. The line is noted as "freight service only."   Mixed trains operated over the line of the Z&E, on which the company issued complimentary trip passes, as evidenced by this example used in 1910.
  A good description of the history and operations of the Zwolle & Eastern was published in 1911 as part of the Interstate Commerce Commission's "Tap Line" Case:  

ZWOLLE & EASTERN RAILWAY. In the year 1899 the Sabine Lumber Company built a sawmill for the manufacture of yellow-pine lumber at Zwolle, La., within one-half mile of the tracks of the Kansas City Southern, and a planing mill immediately on those tracks. At the same time, and for the purpose of bringing the logs to its mill, the lumber company constructed several miles of track which it transferred in 1904 to a corporation then organized by it and known as the Zwolle & Eastern Railway Company. The capital stock of the new corporation, amounting to $20,000, was taken in part exchange for the track and equipment, and the balance of its value, amounting to $75,000, has since been paid for out of the earnings of the tap line. The stock-holders of the lumber company own practically the entire capital stock of the tap line; and the two companies are not only identical in interest, but have the same officers and several joint employees.

The main track of the Zwolle & Eastern is 14 miles in length and extends in a southwesterly direction from Zwolle to a point known as Blue Lake. There are about 4 miles of spurs and sidetrack. The equipment consists of 3 locomotives, 1 combination passenger and baggage car, a box car, and about 60 logging cars. There are no station structures, although there are said to be several small towns or settlements along the line. Blue Lake is a logging camp. The only independent industry on the line is a small hardwood mill at a point known as Gibson, about 1 mile from the junction with the Kansas City Southern..

The logs are loaded on the cars by employees of the tap line and are hauled by it over the logging spurs and thence over its main line to the mill, a charge of $1.75 per 1,000 feet, log scale, being debited against the lumber company for the services on the logging spurs. For hauling logs over the main track from Blue Lake to Gibson the tap line charges the hardwood mill $2 per 1,000 feet, log scale. The tap line switches shipments of lumber from the sawmill to the trunk line, a distance of about one-half mile; but nearly 90 per cent of the shipments of the proprietary company are dressed lumber, which is taken by the trunk line directly from the loading track. The lumber shipments of the hardwood mill at Gibson are moved by the tap line a distance of 1 mile to the Kansas City Southern. The divisions allowed by the trunk line are from one-half cent to 4 cents per 100 pounds, averaging about 2 cents.

The statement made on the record is that the passenger revenue of the tap line amounts to $60 per month, and that there are two mixed trains moving daily in each direction on which passengers are carried. The annual reports to the Commission do not bear out this claim, however, for the fiscal year 1911, the revenue being shown thereon as $365.15, with no revenues from passenger traffic for the preceding fiscal year. The volume of forest products exceeded 110,000 tons for the year 1910, while the inbound and outbound movements of miscellaneous material and supplies aggregated only 510 tons. The tap line has been operated at a substantial profit, its accumulated surplus on June 30, 1910, amounting to $114,516.67, the major portion of which has been utilized in the payment of its indebtedness of $75,000 to the lumber company, of which mention has already been made.

The Kansas City Southern itself removes the dressed lumber from the planing mill and we should regard any allowance on such traffic either to the tap line or to the lumber company as clearly unlawful. While about 10 per cent of the shipments are rough lumber, which is actually switched by the tap line for a distance of nearly one-half mile, we infer that the loading track of the sawmill is within a very much less distance of the rails of the Kansas City Southern, and that if that company cared to remove the cars from the sawmill it could do so with a switching movement of less than 1,000 feet. If this understanding is not correct, under the principle stated in the original report, the lumber company may have an allowance from the Kansas City Southern under section 15 for switching the rough lumber to the trunk line.

  In March, 1914 it was reported by the Railway Gazette that the road had been extended from Blue Lake to Sanderson, Louisiana, a distance of 5 miles.  
  On February 28, 1922 the Z&E applied for abandonment, which was formally granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission on March 6. In its decision to approve of abandonment, the ICC noted the following:  

The line of the applicant consists of two segments, one extending from Beck to a connection with the Kansas City Southern Railway at Zwolle, a distance of 0.5 mile, and the other extending from a connection with the Kansas City Southern Railway at a point 0.5 mile north of Converse, in a general westerly direction to Elliot, a distance of approximately 9.5 miles. Between Zwolle and the connection north of Converse, a distance of approximately 12 miles, the applicant operates over the Kansas City Southern Railway through trackage rights.

The applicant's line was built in 1904 primarily for the purpose of developing the timber resources in the territory served, and particularly for the purpose of serving the Sabine Lumber Company, located at Zwolle. A number of industries engaged in the production of forest products were established along the road. It is stated that the industries served by the line have closed and dismantled their plants owing to the exhaustion of the forests, that no traffic of any kind is being offered, and that there is no possibility of any being developed. There has been no passenger traffic on the road in the last five years. The only towns on the line are Zwolle, with a population of approximately 900, and Converse, with a population of approximately 400. Both of these towns are served by the Kansas City Southern Railway. There are few settlers in the tributary territory and these are also served by the Kansas City Southern Railway. Affidavits signed by 10 residents of Sabine Parish have been filed with us stating, in effect, that no community, firm, or individual will suffer any damage or inconvenience by reason of the abandonment of the line. Applicant states that there are no bonds, notes, or other indebtedness that will be affected by the abandonment.

  The Z&E was known to have had at least one bad accident. The December 5, 1905 edition of the Palestine (Tex.) Daily Herald reported on the wreck:  
Negro Girl Dead and Five Persons Injured Owing to Wreck.

Zwolle, La., Dec. 4. A disastrous wreck occurred on the Zwolle and Eastern Railway, in which six people were injured, one fatally, three seriously and the others slightly. The main line log train ran into a tree that had fallen across the track, smashing up the locomotive, a box car behind it and five loaded cars. Engineer Simpson and Foreman Hayes remained in the cab and escaped. A negro girl whose name could not be learned had one leg completely torn from her body and died shortly afterward. Her mother had a leg broken. Serapho Galvin, a Mexican, had his thigh broken; Louis B. Gay, Jr. was bruised about the face and two unknown men were injured on the body and head.
  Bibliography and Further Reading  
  "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.  
  Interstate Commerce Commission. Finance Docket No. 1985, In The Matter Of The Application Of The Zwolle & Eastern Railway Company For A Certificate Of Public Convenience And Necessity Authorizing It To Abandon Its Line Of Railroad. Wash., D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Off. 1923.  
  The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Vol. 38, No. 6 (June 1906). New York, N.Y.: National Railway Publication Co, 1906.  
  Palestine (Tex.) Daily Herald. December 5, 1905.  
  Pass, digital image in collection of Murry Hammond. Courtesy Lester Haines.  
  Railroad Commission of Louisiana, and George Franklin Cram. 1913 Map of the State of Louisiana. Chicago, Ill: George F. Cram, 1914.  
  Railroad Commission of Louisiana, and George Franklin Cram. 1922 Map of the State of Louisiana. Chicago, Ill: George F. Cram, 1923.  
  State of Louisiana. 1906. Zwolle & Eastern Railway. "Historical Sketches, Alphabetically of Railroad in Louisiana", Seventh Annual Report of the Railroad Commission of Louisiana (January 1, 1906). Baton Rouge: The Times, 1906.  
Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.