Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The "Hoodlum"

Recent discussion of the "Hoodlum" on the Memphis Railfans FaceBook Page prompted me to dig out this article from the March 2008 "Memphis Buff": 

Hoodlum Update
By Tom Parker
(Reprinted from the April "2008 "Memphis Buff")

Following the publication of the article about the IC's “Hoodlum” in the November 2, 2007, Commercial Appeal and the December, 2007, Buff, I decided to follow the story up with some of my fellow members of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees. While most were too young to recall, I did manage to find a couple of members that were able to provide some additional information. The first comment I got was “They used to have some whale of a card games on there!”
According to retired General Yardmaster Charles Dowdy, the “Hoodlum” made its last run on October 31, 1955. He recalls because it was right after he “hired out” on the railroad.
Retired machinist A. J Grandi recalls that before World War II, the “Hoodlum” consisted of a 1000 series 4-6-2 “Pacific” locomotive, a box car equipped with steps at the doorway and benches along the walls for the “passengers” and a caboose. Occasionally an 8000 series 2-8-4 Lima fresh out of the shop following repairs would be road tested on the “Hoodlum” before being released back into service. The “Hoodlum” ran once an hour between South Yard and Johnston Yard and made stops at Trigg Avenue and Mallory Avenue. Grandi lived in the area around McLemore and Third and would ride his bicycle to South Yard and leave his bike under the McLemore viaduct and catch the “Hoodlum” to Johnston Yard. It was only after WWII that they started using a passenger coach instead of the boxcar, he recalls. The car was an ordinary heavyweight coach painted in typical Pullman green. It was probably only the surplus of passenger equipment after the war that afforded the employees such an upgrade.
The GE 44 Ton 9275 replaced the steam engines in 1947 and was used until the “Hoodlum”'s last run in 1955 and it was used for a time as a “mule” at the Johnston Roundhouse shuffling the steam engines around.
While no one knows for sure, it's probable the “Hoodlum” started running in the early 1900's, almost assuredly by 1914 when the Johnston Roundhouse was built. Johnston Yard was way out in the country back then and there was little or no public trans-portation. The average person didn't own an automobile and the railroad's pool of skilled shop employees such as machinists, steamfitters, blacksmiths and boilermakers would have all been located within walking distance of the Memphis Roundhouse at South Yard.

Like many other passenger trains, the “Hoodlum” was killed by the automobile. When it was abolished, employees were given an allowance in their paycheck as compensation for driving their cars to work and messengers were provided with company vehicles to handle the company mail.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans"

 “Ridin' on the City of New Orleans”

By Tom Parker

(Reprinted from the June 2012 Memphis Buff

(who borrowed liberally from other sources)

Perhaps the most popular train song ever written is “City of New Orleans” by Steve Goodman. A hit for Arlo Guthrie in 1972 on his album “Hobo's Lullaby”, it has remained an all time favorite some forty years later, joining such train songs as the “Chattanooga Choo Choo”(Benny Goodman, 1941) and the “Wabash Cannonball”(Roy Acuff, 1936) as a classic railroad song.
Steve Goodman - Photo by David Gans
- licensed under "Creative Commons "
I have imagined Steve Goodman aboard the southbound “City of New Orleans” shortly before Amtrak took over, in the observation/lounge car, busily observing and writing, capturing on paper the feeling of a train having “the disappearing railroad blues”. The real story is not that simple.
In 1965 Goodman, a native of Chicago, enrolled at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Il. Like a lot of other Chicago area U of I students, he regularly used the Illinois Central to commute between Chicago and Champaign. In 1967, towards the end of his two year off and on career as a student, he decided to skip class and remained on the “City of New Orleans” until it reached its namesake destination.
Shortly afterward, in a club in Chicago's Old Town, he related his adventure to Howard Primer, a high school chum, and was particularly animated when he talked about falling asleep on the return trip. “When he woke up”, as Primer relates Goodman’s story, “it was like he was in a surreal world: The sound of the train, the rhythm of the train, the swaying of the train, looking out the windows at the misty morning on the delta country. And he was talking about ‘Good morning, America.’” The two wrote the first lyrics of the “City of New Orleans” on a napkin that night, including the phrase “don't you know me, I'm your native son”. Some time later, Goodman would add “Good morning America, how are you”.
It wasn't until some three years later that the rest of the song came together. Goodman had dropped out of school to pursue his musical career, gotten married and in 1969 was diagnosed with leukemia. In April of 1970, he and his wife boarded the “City of New Orleans” on a chilly Monday morning to visit her grandmother in a nursing home near Mattoon, Il.
Nancy was sleeping in the seat next to me. I just took out a sketchpad, and I looked out the window and wrote down everything I saw: junkyards, little towns that didn’t even have a sign to say what they were. Just out of Chicago, there was a bunch of old men standing around tin cans, warming themselves and waving. Nancy was still asleep after about an hour and a half, so I went down to the club car and ended up playing cards with a couple of old men.”
On that train ride, Goodman wrote two verses to add to the chorus he had written three years earlier. After his return to Chicago he added a third verse describing life inside the train; “pass he paper bag that holds the bottle” and “feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor”, etc.
Goodman first recorded the song on March 3, 1970 and was released on his album “Gathering at the Earl of Old Town”. John Denver had a version on his album “Aerie” released on December 4, 1971, just a few weeks after the train was cancelled by Amtrak. Neither version went anywhere.
At this point in his life Goodman was eking out a living recording jingles for TV ads (Dial Deodorant and Maybelline Blushing Eye Shadow were two of his accounts) and performing at local Chicago clubs. It was at one of these clubs that as fate would have it, Goodman met Arlo Guthrie.
Guthrie was sitting at the bar after doing a show, trying not to be noticed. The club owner approached Guthrie and said he would like him to listen to a “train” song in which might be interested. Guthrie replied angrily that he didn't like train songs, but the club owner assured him he wouldn't be disappointed and introduced Goodman to Guthrie.
Guthrie told Goodman to give him the tape, he would listen to it. Goodman replied that he didn't have a tape, but could sing it for him. This angered Guthrie even more, but he agreed with the stipulation that Goodman buy him a beer and finish the song before Arlo finished the beer. Guthrie would later say “one of the finer beers of my life”.
Arlo Guthrie's recording of “City of New Orleans” peaked at number 18 nationally and the rest, as they say, is history. The song has been recorded by at least eighty artists. Darcie Sanders, co-founder of Amazingrace, a cooperative in the Chicago suburb of Evanston that often hosted Goodman in concert, keenly observed that the song
goes beyond classic into something archetypal that hooks into people so deeply that they’re moved, and they join in. . . . It’s the best outsider anthem anyone has ever written for America. We were the native sons and daughters, but maybe America didn’t know us or recognize us. Who has not felt that their life is disappearing? It’s the questioning, the trying to get closer, and yet the train is speeding away, the sense of the lost moment. That’s how a whole generation felt about their relationship with America and themselves as Americans.”

Original Lyrics by Steve Goodman
City of New Orleans© Turnpike Tom Music 1970

Original Lyrics by Steve Goodman
City of New Orleans© Turnpike Tom Music 1970

Riding on the City of New Orleans
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields
Passin' towns that have no names
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles
Good morning, America, how are you
Don't you know me, I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Dealin' cards with the old men in the club car
Penny a point, ain't no one keepin' score
Won't you pass the paper bag that holds the bottle
Feel the wheels rumblin' 'neath the floor
And the sons of pullman porters
And the sons of engineers
Ride their father's magic carpet made of steam
Mothers with their babes asleep
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they dream
Night time on The City of New Orleans
Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee
Half way home, and we'll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea

And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rails still ain't heard the news
The conductor sings his song again
The passengers will please refrain
This train's got the disappearing railroad blues
Final Chorus
Good night, America, how are you
Don't you know me, I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Repeat First Chorus
Good morning, America, how are you
Don't you know me, I'm your native son
I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

Free Admission

Free admission to Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum during River Arts Fest.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Rock Island Terminal at Memphis

(Reprinted from March 1915 Rock Island Employees Magazine)

New Memphis Freight House
The business at the new Memphis Freight Station has shown steady and healthy increase since its opening on July 6th, 1914, notwithstanding the unusual depression due to conditions abroad. The location of this station at Calhoun Fourth Sts. is an admirable one, despite the fact the territory was acquired after practically all other lines in Memphis had been established for years, and places us in closer touch with the wholesale district naturally shortening the haul from the warehouses to the station, and has made it possible for us to handle through carload traffic to and from other lines with greater promptness and satisfaction, due to points of interchange being closer together. The records will show that the new facilities have made it possible to handle greater volume of business more promptly, much cheaper, with greater ease, and apparently to the entire satisfaction of our patrons (the last claim being borne out by the absence of complaint).

New Memphis Freight House, Showing Driveway and Team Tracks.
Our old freight house facilities were located at the bottom of the hill just south of the Poplar street depot of the Illinois Central. While this was close to portion of the business district of Memphis for all incoming freight, it required hauling up this steep hill, which could only be accomplished by tacking, as in sail boat. The new freight house is very complete in every detail. It is one and two story building, the two story portion is of brick. The building is 46 feet wide, 484 feet long. The two story part is 155 feet long, the second floor being used for offices. The building has concrete foundation all exterior posts are of cast iron. The one story portion is covered with corrugated American ingot iron, which is especially pure iron.

The building is lighted with electric lights installed by our company force under Mr. Frank Roblin.

The working floors of the freight house are of asphalt mastic laid on subfloor of concrete, thus giving us floor that ought to last great many years with practically no expense. The space between the foundation walls 
being filled in, the floors can carry any load without thought of failure.

Office and Force, Memphis Freight House.
Total cost of the building was about $84,000. Parallel with the building is one of our standard transfer platforms 12 feet wide, 468 feet long. This cost $2,200. The office portion of the building is heated by steam which was installed by local contractors, the Fisher Heating Co.

W. L. Stout, Agent, Memphis, in His Private Office at New Freight House.

 Approximately the total expenditure in connection with this freight terminal was million dollars, including every thing from the purchase of property to the completed building and terminal yard, which covers more than three average city blocks, and which were originally occupied by cottages, ninety of which had to be removed to construct this facility. All of these houses were either moved off the property to new locations or razed. It required some 750 yards of grading to complete this work. The freight house is at the present time in and out bound. Later on when required we will build strictly out bound freight house on the other side of the teamway, which is 46 feet wide.

The first floor contains the cashier's office and cold storage room for storing perishable shipments in either hot or cold weather. The freight room floor contains freight room scales, two of which are equipped with the automatic dial scales. There are continuous vertical sliding doors on the team side so that the teams can line up continuously the full length of the house if necessary. On the track side the doors are parallel sliding doors so that an opening can be made any where the full length of the house to come opposite car door. All these doors are made of steel covered with corrugated ingot iron. Team driveway on the east side of the building is 46 feet wide and 1,100 feet long, is of paving blocks set on concrete base with pitch filler.

City Office, Rock Island Lines, at Memphis.
To protect teams standing at the freight house either taking or delivering loads, we have permanent 12 feet wide canopy the full length of the house as protection during stormy weather. This is great advantage, especially where it rains so continuously at times as it does in Memphis, and should be considerable help in securing business, as no other any freight house in Memphis has similar protection.

On the track side we have also another permanent canopy the full length of the house extending out to the center line of the car, which gives considerable protection to minimize the damaging of goods by weather elements.

One feature of this work was the sewage and drainage system that had to be installed in order to take care of the changed condition of grades caused by the track grading. This latter part of the work cost approximately $10,000. The railroad tracks leading into the freight yard had to cross Georgia avenue between Fourth and Wellington streets. At that point the street was lowered many feet, and concrete bridge had to be constructed. Special high steel towers had to be constructed at this point in order to elevate over our tracks the power wires from the power house that is located block distant.

Koehler Bros.-Fowler Construction Co. of Memphis laid all of the paving under the viaduct and for the teamways for the freight house.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Memphis and the Tennessee Midland

Memphis and the Tennessee Midland
by Tom Parker
(Reprinted from the December 2007 Memphis Buff)
Tennessee Midland # 201 at Parsons, TN

The Richmond and West Point Terminal

To understand the history of the Tennessee Midland, it's necessary to know a little bit about the Richmond and West Point Terminal Company. The “Terminal Company” was a holding company incorporated in 1880 to promote the interests of the Richmond and Danville Railroad. The R&D was prohibited in its charter from owning stock in any railroad with which it did not have a direct connection. The Terminal Company was created to circumvent this restriction.

By 1887 the Terminal Company controlled 4,500 miles of railroad but by 1892 the company had gone broke and entered receivership. It was re-incorporated in 1894 as the Southern Railway Company.

Both the Virginia Construction Company, who constructed the Tennessee Midland and the Tennessee Midland shared a number of officers and directors with The Richmond and West Point Terminal Company and were possibly separate entities only on paper.

For example, when the Tennessee Midland was sold, the majority stockholder was the Virginia Construction Company. James C. Pace a wealthy Virginian, President of the Planters Bank of Richmond, VA and tobacco company owner, was the President of the Virgina Construction Company and a director of the Terminal Company. A. S. Buford, a former president of the Terminal Company, was a director of the Tennessee Midland and was later the president of Virginia Construction. The Tennessee Midland was sold in 1892, the same year the Terminal Company entered receivership.

The Short History of the Tennessee Midland

The New York Times reported that on December 21, 1886, the Virginia Construction Company, under the auspices of the Pace Railway Syndicate had dispatched surveying parties from Jackson Tennessee on December 13, 1886, to map out the proposed Memphis and Nashville Road, which Mr. J.C. Pace and other owners of the Richmond and Danville intend to build. Two surveying parties left Jackson, one going toward the Tennessee River, the other towards Memphis.

No provision had yet been made to survey beyond the Tennessee River, but it was expected that such work would be done as soon as the work in West Tennessee was completed. Chief engineer was Mr. R.H. Temple of Richmond, Va. It was the intent of the Case Syndicate to extend the tracks as far as Knoxville, TN, thereby making direct connection with their Atlantic roads. Mr T. C. Leake, Jr. was to be in charge of construction.1

On December 29, 1886, the Tennessee Midland Railway received a charter to build a railroad from Memphis, TN, to the Virginia state line.2 A meeting of Memphis citizens was held on January 5, 1887, where it was agreed that Memphis should agree to a subscription of $100,000 of capital stock of the proposed “Memphis & Nashville” railroad. The action was endorsed by the Merchants' Exchange and six prominent men were selected to solicit subscriptions. Fifty percent of the subscription was payable when the road was completed to the connection with the Illinois Central at Jackson, TN, and the remaining fifty percent when the road was completed to the Tennessee River. 3

On February 18, 1887, A meeting was held in Memphis concerning the new railroad. Tennessee Midland President A. S. Buford said that the railroad would extend 700 miles from Memphis to Bristol at a cost of fifteen to twenty million dollars and would be completed in two years. It would connect to the Atlantic seaboard via the Richmond and Danville and the Baltimore and Ohio systems.4

The Tennessee Midland secured $350,000 in private, town and county money and on July 19, 1887, contracted the Virginia Construction Company to build the railroad. Virginia Construction issued $2,000,000 worth of stock for this purpose.5 On May 14, 1888, the Tennessee Midland was authorized to build a bridge across the Tennessee River “on any point on a line between the counties of Decatur and Perry” by the United States Congress.6

Tennessee Midland extended 135 miles from 
Memphis to Perryville, TN. The Paducah, Tennessee
and Alabama Railroad built the connecting track 
between Hollow Rock Junction and Lexington. 
(1906 Railway Guide)
The track from Memphis to Jackson was completed on June 1, 1888.7 The next year the track was completed to Perryville on the Tennessee River and on June 30, 1889, the first train operated from Memphis to Perryville. It consisted of a baggage car, two passenger cars and three freight cars. Perryville's importance was due to the transfer of passengers and freight between boats on the Tennessee River and the railroad8.

The company continued to solicit financing from individuals and government entities along its proposed route. The fledgling railroad hit a brick wall, however, when, it sought subscriptions from Davidson County. Powerful interests in Nashville blocked the subscription, backed by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, who, along with its subsidiary, the Nashville and Chattanooga (the future NC&StL), held a monopoly on rail traffic to and from Nashville. Advocates of the Tennessee Midland continued to seek a referendum on the public subsidy of the railroad through 1892, but were unsuccessful. Later, the Tennessee Central would also be thwarted for many years by the L&N in their attempt to enter Nashville.9

It was reported in February, 1892, that the Illinois Central was in negotiations with the Tennessee Midland to acquire the track between Jackson and Memphis, TN. At the time the IC did not have tracks to Memphis from the North but reached Memphis from the south through Grenada, MS. While it had no interest in the forty five miles east of Jackson, the IC offered to arrange through a third party to complete the road beyond the Tennessee River to Nashville and to guarantee the bonds for its construction.10

The deal with the Illinois Central evidently fell through and on April 2, 1892, the Tennessee Midland was sold for $2,350,000 to Mr. T. J. Mors of St. Louis, the principal owner of the Paducah, Tennessee and Alabama Railroad. The PT&A operated from Paducah, Ky., to Hollow Rock, Tenn., with a connection under construction between Hollow Rock to the Tennessee Midland at Lexington, Tenn.11

In 1893 both the PT&A and the Tennessee Midland went into receivership. The Trustee was the St. Louis Trust Company and John Overton, of Memphis and W. L. Huse of St. Louis were named joint receivers. There was no change in the operation of the two lines.12 In 1895 both lines were sold at foreclosure to the L&N Railroad. The L&N in turn leased both lines to its subsidiary, the NC&StL, for 99 years.13


With the sale of the Tennessee Midland in 1892, the former mainline between Lexington and Perryville became a branch line. Highway improvements and the construction of the Alvin C. York Bridge over the Tennessee River at Perryville in 1930 diverted traffic from the railroad. Revenue suffered and service was discontinued on October 31, 1936.

Around 1968 the remainder of the Tennessee Midland was abandoned east of Cordova with the exception of some track in Jackson, Tennessee. On September 6, 2001, the line between Aulon and Cordova was embargoed. The CSXT received discontinuance authority in 2002 and 2003 and has now requested full abandonment authority from the Surface Transportation Board. In the last couple of months the CSXT has had brush removed from the right of way to facilitate removal of the track when final approval is received. Except for trackage within Memphis and Jackson, TN, what once was the Tennessee Midland will be gone forever when this track is removed.

1“The Pace Syndicate”, New York Times, 12/22/1886
3“A New Road to be Built, New York Times , 1/5/87
4“Planing a New Road”, New York Times, 2/19/87
6Statutes at Large, USA,12/87-3/89, Chapter 249
7H. V. Poor, Poor's Manual (New York) 1889, P. 707
10“To Buy the Tennessee Midland”, New York Times, 2/14/92
11New York Times, April 3, 1892
12New York Times, November 1, 1893

13Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, Richard E. Prince, p 60.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Casey's Railroad - - Gone?

Posted as background to Iowa Pacific Holdings recent acquisition of the Grenada Railway.

Casey's Railroad - - - - GONE?
By Tom Parker
(Reprinted from June  2009 Memphis Buff)

“HOMEWOOD, Ill., May 13, 2009 – CN (TSX: CNR)(NYSE: CNI) today announced the completion of agreements to sell three Mississippi line segments to Grenada Railway, LLC and Natchez Railway, LLC both non-carrier affiliates of V&S Railway and A&K Railroad Materials. This deal transfers ownership of 252 miles of track and preserves rail service on the two longest of these rail lines for at least the next two years. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.CN is pleased that this deal with Grenada Railway and Natchez Railway will allow these rail lines to remain in place serving Mississippi business,” said Jim Vena, CN's senior vice president, Southern Region. “CN will continue to offer interchange service to the new short lines, maintaining every customer's seamless access to the broader CN network.
Red: Lines Sold, Green: CN, Blue: KCS .
V&S Railway LLC operates successful short lines in Kansas and Colorado.”

This news release by the Canadian National Railroad probably signals the end of the line for the track that carried Casey Jones to his fabled end. The demise probably can be traced back to September 10th, 1995. when Amtrak, due to the Illinois Central's reluctance to maintain passenger train standards over the district, rerouted the “City of New Orleans” over the IC's track through Greenwood, MS, leaving only local service for the line's dwindling customer base. The final blow for the Natchez line was the closing of International Paper's mill at Natchez.
Despite assurances in the news release that the new railroads “ will allow these lines to remain in place serving Mississippi business”, the parent of Grenada Railway and Natchez Railway is A&K Railway Materials, “the nation's leading supplier of new and used track materials” according to their website.
A&K's founder, president and majority shareholder, Kern W. Schumacher, began his career at the age of nineteen when he organized A&K Tie Company to salvage thousands of used railway ties being removed from the lower deck of the Oakland Bay Bridge in Oakland California. A&K purchased the redwood ties at .60 each and resold them to landscapers for $6.00 each.
In papers filed with the Surface Transportation Board, both the Grenada Railway and Natchez Railway are shown as “controlled by Mr. Schumacher”.
V&S Railway, is cited in the news release as operating “successful” short line railroads in Kansas and Colorado.
The Facts
In December of 2000 the V&S petitioned the STB to purchase a 41 mile segment of former ATSF trackage between Sun City and Attica, KS from the Central Kansas Railway. In May of 2003, the V&S petitioned to abandon 20 miles of the line between Sun City and Medicine Lodge. The remaining 22 miles of the line is still in use between a connection with the BNSF at Attica, KS, and Medicine Lodge where National Gypsum has a facility.

The V&S also operates a 5 mile switching line at Hutchinson KS, which it purchased from the Hutchinson and Northern Railway in 2006.

Another venture of the V&S is the Kern Valley Railroad. On October 31, 2001, The Kern Valley purchased the 30 mile line of the Trinidad Railway on Colorado with the express purpose of salvage, the Trinidad Railway already having filed for abandonment. Latest filings with the STB indicate that two miles of the line remain.

In 2008, V&S purchased the Gloster & Southern Railroad between Gloster, MS, and Slaughter, LA, from Georgia Pacific which owns an idled paper mill at Gloster.
In 1992, in conjunction with Michael Van Wagenen of Kyle Railways, Schumacher and Morris Kulmer, CFO of A&K, formed the Tulare Valley Railroad Company. TVR's original 158 miles has shrunk to 6.1 miles, with the rest of the line either being abandoned or sold to the San Joquin Valley Railroad. On March 12, 2009, TVR petitioned the STB to abandon the remainder of the railroad.

In 1999, the Canadian National Railroad transferred 145 miles of track to the Southern Manitoba Railway, an affiliate of the TVR. In March of 2006, the Southern Manitoba Railway applied to Manitoba's Motor Transport Board to discontinue operations over the last 78.6 miles of its line between Morris and Mariapolis, MB.

The 122 mile Colorado, Kansas and Pacific Railway was sold to V&S by the state of Colorado in December, 2005, for 10.35 million dollars, with a down payment of one million dollars with the remainder to be paid over a six year period.

In August of 2007 grain shippers were complaining of having to use trucks due to the railroads inability to supply cars and Colorado reported that it no payments had been received after the initial down payment. In 2006 a rail fan reported finding only two locomotives on the entire line, neither running and with rusty wheels and only five rail cars on line, four flats and a “5 Pack” intermodal spine car.

There are numerous other acquisitions and attempts at acquisitions by Schumacher and friends in filings with the STB, and also numerous abandonments. While it is difficult to match acquisitions with abandonments, presumably these earlier “V&S” lines no longer exist. Unless some action is taken by communities and industries along the line, the Grenada and Natchez Railways will probably join its former corporate brothers as short lived “Fallen Flags”.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Walk Down Whitehaven Lane

Some history on the line recently acquired by Iowa Pacific Holdings

A Walk Down Whitehaven Lane

by Tom Parker

(Reprinted from the July 2008 Memphis Buff)

Looking North from Whitehaven Lane. Vacant area 
West of track was depot location.
There are probably a number  of old railroad stations in the Memphis area that have been lost to history. One station that almost  fits that description is “White's Station” in what is now Whitehaven.

In February, 1846, a group of cotton planters in Northern Mississippi were granted a charter by the state of Mississippi to build a railroad for the transportation of cotton to the Mississippi River. The charter was renewed in 1852, but  ther was no progress made until  July 4, 1953 when a  meeting of planters occurred at the plantation of Colonel Francis M. White in Como, MS.

Colonel White took charge and by the spring of 1855 severeal miles of track had ben laid southward from Memphis and on May 5, 1855, the first engine, the “DeSoto”, arrived in Memphis. One year later, on May 1, 1856,  a celebration was held in Hernando, Mississippi, marking the completion of the rails to that city. One year later the tracks reached  Sardis, Mississippi, the halfway point between Memphis and Grenada, MS. It was not until 1861 however that the track was completed to a connection with the Mississippi Central Railroad at Grenada, Mississippi.

A station was established  just north of the Mississippi/Tennessee state line at what is now the intersection of Whithaven Lane and  Amey Road. The station was originally named “White's Station” in honor of Col. White. The community surronding the station became known as “White Haven” and eventually  “Whitehaven”.  Although the depot has been gone for for many decades, the house track survived through the 1970's.     

This 1891 plat shows location of Depot (highlighted in red)

As late as 1979 the house track still appeared on IC's Track Profiles