Report on the Condition and Prospects of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi

This report details the financial and material state of the Southern Railroad Company in 1867.

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November, 1866.

E. C. Markley & Son, Pr's,
Goldsmths Hall, 122 Library Street, Philadelphia

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November, 1866.PHILADELPHIA:
E. C. Markley & Son, Pr's,
Goldsmths Hall, 122 Library Street, Philadelphia

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Length of Route of Railroad,5
Description of County,5
Condition of Road and Property of Company,6
Iron, Cross-Ties, Chairs and Spikes,6
Bridges and Trestle Work,7
Big Black Bridge,7
Quicksands in Cuts,8
Equipment of Road—Engines and Cars,8
Business of Road,9
Causes of Small Revenue,9
Lumber and Mills,10
Freedmen's Labor,11
Injuries inflicted by War,11
Lands Owned by Company,12
Connections with other Railroads,12
Meridian and Selma Railroad,12
City of Montgomery, Alabama,13
Alabama and Tennessee Rivers Railroad,13
Railroad Westward from Vicksburg,13
Value of Proposed Connections,13
Connections with the Mississippi at Vicksburg,14
Financial Condition of Company,14
Bonded and Permanent Debt,15
Sum now Required by Company,16
Appendix,17 to 21

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W. L. Schaffer, Esq.
Cashier Girard Bank.

Dear Sir:

—In compliance with the instructions contained in your letter of October 26th, past, (a copy of which is hereunto annexed, marked Appendix A,) I have visited the Southern Railroad of Mississippi, and made the necessary examinations, the result of which is hereby submitted in the following


This Road commences in the City of Vicksburg, and extends eastward a distance of 140 miles to Meridian, a town situate 12 miles from the Alabama State Line. From this point the Meridian and Selma Railroad extends eastward to Selma, 107 miles, forming a continuous line from Vicksburg to that place. At Jackson, 44 miles from Vicksburg, the New Orleans and Northern Railroad is crossed, and at Meridian the Mobile and Ohio road, forming, at each point, both Northern and Southern connections.

From Vicksburg to Brandon, 58 1/2 miles, the land is generally cleared; it is an old settled country, though not thickly inhabited. The soil is of good quality, is capable of supporting a large population, and will produce about half a bale of cotton to the acre.

From Brandon to Meridian, 81 1/2 miles, the country is new

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and covered with timber, except perhaps 10 miles in the aggregate, improved at different points. South of the railroad, from 2 to 10 miles distant, lies a strip of rich, well-clutivated prairie land, some 30 miles in length, which is tributary to the railroad.


The Iron of Track.—From Vicksburg to Brandon, about 58 1/2 miles, the rail is light, only 41 lbs. per yard, of H pattern, and of which the greater part has been in use for more than 30 years. It is, however, in a remarkably good condition, by far too good to remove from the track. From Brandon to Selma, 81 1/2 miles, the weight of rail is 54 and 56 lbs., of H pattern; this has only been used since 1861, and but few defective bars are found on this part of the road. Three hundred tons of rails will place the iron of the road in a good condition. This quantity has been ordered by the Company from England, with heavy wrought iron chairs to fit, and is expected to reach New Orleans in January next.

Cross Ties.—To render the road safe, a great number of ties should be put in as soon as possible. Not less than 100,000 are required, chiefly on the western part of the road.

Chairs and Spikes.—The rail-fastenings upon the light iron are very defective, and must be replaced with good chairs, and the rails punched for spikes, to prevent the rails from running endwise, which is now a very serious difficulty in keeping the iron in place. The spiking is very deficient, especially on the light iron, and some 25 tons of spikes ought to be put in with the new ties.

Drainage.—Until the past year this has been much neglected, during which time, however, considerable has been done, though much yet remains to be done.

Ballasting.—Upon the east and west ends of the road then natural soil forms a very good road bed, but for some 30 miles

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in the middle part, the soil is of such a nature as to render ballasting essential to a good track. Suitable material can be obtained at points along the road, but must be transported by cars. There should be two construction trains kept constantly at work for the next six months, after which one for the ensuing year.

Bridges and Trestle Works.—Of these there are a large number. The principal are: one over Big Black, iron and wood combined, 3 spans; one over Pelahatchie, Howe Truss, 1 span 90 feet; four over Chunky River, one over Pearl River, and eleven others, all Beam Truss bridges, from 40 to 60 feet span each.

Nine trestle bridges, from 100 feet to 3,000 feet long, and of small trestle bridges, of single spans, about 400.

The bridge over Big Black is a new structure, three spans, 102, 165, and 140 feet respectively, and was built by Mr. A. Fink, of Louisville, upon the plan known as "Fink's Patent." It is a combined wood and iron bridge, the top cords and bearers being of wood (to reduce the cost,) and the remaineder of iron. Mr. Fink has built a large number of these bridges upon different roads, where they have successfully born the test of heavy traffic. It is built in a climate favorable to the use of iron, on account of the absence of sever cold weather. It is well built, and if the iron used is of good quality, the bridge will be a durable one. The trestle approach on the east is some 3,100 feet long, and is built of heart Carolina pine, in a very substantial manner.

Most of the large bridges have been rebuilt during the years 1865 and 1866; and materials have been prepared and chiefly framed for the remainder, except two, viz.: the two and four-mile trestles. Much of the trestle work should be replaced by brick culverts and permanent embankments. This substitution should commence at once, and go on systematically until most of these structures disappear from the road. The two and four-mile trestles are long and high, and must be rebuilt at once.

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Quicksand in Cuts.—In quite a number of deep cuts there is found a material that, in wet weather, becomes semi-fluid, running and sliding into the excavations, and, covering the rails, renders the use of the road impossible. It has been found necessary to plank or trunk these. The one at Pelahatchie, 800 feet in length, is the most troublesome. In this a good new trunk has just been completed, and it not probable that the passing of trains will again be stopped from this cause. Quite a number of these will require renewal next summer, but they are not of any magnitude.


Engines.—There are in all, old and new, 21.

Of these are new,3—good order.
Built, 1859, 1860, 1861,10 "
Built, 1850 to 1856,4—fair order.
In running order,17

The condition of the motive power, particularly in view of the bad state of the track, is very good.

Cars.—Of these there are,Passenger, First Class,3
" Second Class,5

The cars are in fair condition, but are kept running only at great expense, by reason of frequent accidents, occasioned by the unsafe condition of the track.

Nearly all the Platform Cars are engaged in ditching and in hauling lumber and ties.

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To do the business now on the road promptly, the Company ought to have 50 more platform and 30 more box cars. The greater portion of these should be purchased at once, in place of waiting till the Company can build them at their own shops.

Depots.—At the close of the war, five depot buildings were left upon the road. Soon after, two were consumed by fire, leaving three only standing, viz.: one at Vicksburg, one at Pelahatchie, and one at Forest Stations. At five stations provision has been made sufficient for present purposes. At most of the stations, however, buildings must be erected. At Jackson and Meridian, the crossing of the New Orleans and Mobile Railroad, it is proposed to erect Union Depots.


During the past six months, the receipts of the road have been as follows:—

From Passengers,$95,334 83
" Freight,96,619 36
" Express and Miscellaneous,4,499 66
Total,$196,453 85
Averaging, say, per month,$32,742

This is a very small business, being less than at the rate of $2,900 per mile per annum for 140 miles, the length of the road. This amount is but little more than sufficient to pay the current expense of conducting the road's operations. The causes which have limited the revenue to this small amount are very evident. They are to be found, first, in the effects of the war paralyzing business, impoverishing the people and disorganizing labor, thus in a great measure stopping production and preventing trade and travel. Next, in the entire failure, this season, of the crops planted in the vicinity of the road. Perhaps one-fourth of the usual extent of cotton and corn was planted, and

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the produce was not more than one-fourth of a crop; the land has not, in fact, paid the acutal expense of cultivation. This failure, caused mainly by unfavorable weather, has aggravted the evil results entailed by the war, and postponed the time of recovery from their effects. And further, the small income has in part been caused by the unsafe condition of the road itself, and its insufficient equipment. Transportation has not been provided for the freight along the road; while business to and from more remote points has been driven from its natural channel.

In exemplification of this, I would mention the single article of lumber. There is found between Brandon and Meridian, within five miles and on each side of the road, a body of timber land of not less than 400 square miles. Three-fourths of this is covered with a large growth of the long-leafed Georgia pine; the other fourth is heavily timbered with white oak, beech, and other deciduous trees. For the pine and oak lumber there is great demand upon the waters of the Mississippi, Vicksburg being the distributing point. There have been ten small sawmills erected in this lumber region, most of them since the war. Nearly all are now idle, because the Railroad Company does not furnish transportation for their products. If these mills were put actively into operation, the business afforded to the Road by them would yield about $250 per day.

If the public could see your Road in a good, safe condition, properly equipped and the present business promptly done, the mills would soon be tripled in number, and more than tripled in capacity. A single mill, such as abound in the lumber regions at the North, would make as much lumber as five of these saw mills. To sustain this opinion, I would mention that at the present time there are about sixty mills in active operation within a distance of sixty miles along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, south of Meridian. In view of the foregoing facts, with fair average crops, such as can be raised with the labor of the freedmen now on the land, with the travel that will necessarily follow the sale of these crops, with the business now

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on the Road promptly done, and with the present railroad connections, I believe it entirely safe to estmiate the receipts at fifty thousand dollars per month.

By way of reply to a question which may be raised here in reference to freedmen's labor, it may be well to state a few facts. All the track hands employed upon the Meridian and Selma Railroad are colored men. About one-third of those upon the Southern Railroad employed in similar work are also colored men, and it is the intention of the officers of the Company in future to use the freedmen principally for that labor. At three saw-mills, where seventy freedmen were employed, the owner of the mills stated that he had no difficulty in having the work well done. All the work upon the plantations this year was done by the freedmen. In short, the feeling is gradually becoming more general, that in another year the difficulties supposed to attend this question will very materially lessen, if not entirely disappear.

When your Road shall have been placed in the condition contemplated by this report, and be provided with sufficient equipment, it can earn $50,000 per month. The expenditures for the past year have been, and are now, greatly in excess of this sum. It is impossible to separate those that relate strictly to operating the Road from those that relate to its reconstruction. During the war nothing was done to the Road or machinery beyond what was absolutely necessary to keep it in operation, though it was taxed to its utmost capacity for transportation. Most of the materials furnished during this time were of an inferior quality, and the work done was of the most temporary character.

Without going into a detailed statement of the injuries inflicted upon this Company by the war, suffice it to say that most of the depots, bridges, and large trestle works were destroyed; that the iron upon about thirty miles of Road was torn up, bent and twisted, the ties and forty of the cars burned, and the whole rolling stock rendered almost unfit for use.

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The lands of the Company consist of about 130,000 acres, which were granted by the Government to aid in the construction of the road. Those lying along the streams are mostly covered with heavy timber, of oak, beech, gum and other deciduous trees—those back from the streams with a heavy growth of the long-leafed Georgia pine. The United States and private parties own large tracts of similar land in the vicinity of the road. Heretofore there has been but little demand for these lands, and at present they cannot be sold. The only feasible plan of rendering them productive to the Company is to foster the lumber trade.


Thus far the Southern Railroad has been considered only with reference to its local business, its present population and connections. It remains to examine the proposed connections and their probable effect upon its buisness and prospects. These connections will be be understood by a reference to a railroad map.

The Southern Railroad, uniting with the Meridian and Selma Road, forms a direct and continuous line from the Mississippi river to the central part of the State of Alabama. From Selma to Montgomery a railroad has been projected to connect these two points, the grading on which is more than half done. This piece of road is being built by the Montgomery and West Point Road—a rich and prosperous Company—the President of which, Mr. Pollard, not long since, informed Dr. Emanuel that he confidently expected that it would be finished in the year 1867. I am assured by the President and by the Superintendent of the Meridian and Selma Road, that "there is every probability of its being completed during 1867, and that when completed they believe it will double the business of their road, and prove equally advantageous to the Southern Railroad Company."

The city of Montgomery, the capital of the State of Alabama, is 44 miles east of Selma. It has railway connections with the

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Atlantic seaboard, by a line very direct and in good condition to Savannah and to Charleston. It has also extensive interior connections by Atlanta, Dalton and Chattanooga. Therefore, when this link of 44 miles shall be completed, Vicksburg will be placed within 670 miles of Savannah and her lines of steamers, by an unbroken railroad connection. That the extensive region thus opened will supply a large amount of new business to the Southern Railroad, cannot be doubted.

From Selma the Alabama and Tennessee Rivers Railroad runs in a northeasterly direction 135 miles, to near Jacksonville, where it terminates. It is 60 miles from this terminus to Rome, Georgia, between which points a road has been located, contracts made for its construction, and two-thirds of the grading already done. The work is in the hands of enterprising men, and no doubt is entertained of its early completion. At Rome a connection is made with the system of roads running in a very direct line, in a northeasterly direct, to Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia. When completed, this route, using the Southern Railroad east of Jackson, will be much the shortest between New Orleans and the great cities of the North and East; and it is proposed to shorten this route still more by building a road in direct line from Rome to Dalton, instead of permanently using the road from Rome to Kingston.

From Vicksburg westward a line of railroad was located and considerable portion of the work done before the war. Starting from the west bank of the Mississippi, opposite Vicksburg, it passes, by way of Monroe and Shrieveport [sic] , Louisiana, into Texas. The work upon it has again been commenced, and is being actively pressed forward. At the present time trains are run some 20 miles westward of Monroe. This road will be the means of throwing a very large accession of business over the whole length of the Southern Railroad.

Taking into view the geographical position of the Southern Railroad, the three connections herein mentioned, the progress already made, and the large interests combined to complete them, there does not seem room for reasonable doubt but that

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your road will command a very great increase of business—that it will become part of a main trunk line for traffic passing East and West, Northeast and Southwest—and that it will thus become a valuable and productive property.


The present terminus of the road at Vicksburg is about half a mile back from the river, and above it about one hundred feet. The cost of transferring freight between the river and the road is about $1 per ton. In view of a large business connected with the river and the Vicksburg, Shrieveport [sic] and Texas Railroad, it would be of great advantage to extend a track to the river. The distance would be less than a mile, and the cost probably about $80,000, depending mainly upon the right of way and depot grounds. Its construction may, however, properly be postponed until its necessity becomes more pressing by the increase of business.


The Company has not been able from the receipts of the Road to pay current expenses and make the necessary repairs to track, rebuild the bridges and trestle works, purchase engines and tools for shops, etc. The officers of the Company have shown great confidence in the value and productiveness of the Road to attempt its reconstruction, with the resources derived alone from its business. In their efforts to accomplish so large a work with means comparatively so small, they have exhibited great energy, perseverance and ability. The result is that the Company now has a large floating debt due for labor, materials and supplies.

It amounted on 10th of November, as stated by
the Treasurer of the Company, to
(For details see Appendix B.)
The cost of placing the Road and Works in fit
condition for economical operation, and of providing
the necessary equipment, will be. (See Appendix C.)

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Amount brought forward,$441,000
In case the entire receipts of the Road during the
year 1867 shall be applied to reconstruction, and
additional funds shall be provided sufficient to secure
that object promptly, then it may be safely assumed
that there will be realized from that sourced, to be so
applied, say,
Which, deducted from the above, would leave, to
come from other sources,
Amount of principal,$2,182,106 98
The interest upon this not having been paid
since 1861, would on 1st of January 1868,
amount to about
844,610 61
(See Appendix D.)
It has been shown in this report that there is good reason to
believe the receipts of the Road, without the competion of any
of the proposed connections can be made to average per
or per annum,$600,000
Deduct the proper expenses $30,000 per
month, or per annum,
Leaving net revenue per annum,$240,000

That some of these connections will be built at an early day cannot be doubted; and when that shall be realized with any one of them, the business of the Southern Railroad must be thereby largely increased, its financial condition improved, and its value as a Railroad property materially enhanced.

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In view of these considerations it is most evident that the sum now required by the Company, $300,000 ought to be immediately provided.

At your request and that of the President of the Company, Dr. Emanuel, I made quite a number of suggestions in regard to the management of the Road. The more important ones in writing, a copy of which is submitted in a supplemental report. I take pleasure in stating that every facility was given me by the officers of the Road to make the investigation you desired. The President of the Company, Dr. Emanuel accompanied me over the Road, and together we extended our trip to Selma, Alabama.

R. C. Slaughter, Esq., was until recently, the Cheif Engineer and General Superintendent, and all the work done since the war, was accomplished, and all the operations of the Road were conducted under his supervision. He had a most difficult and trying position, and deserves credit for the ability and energy shown in the discharge of its duties.

His successor is E. F. Raworth, Esq., who comes very highly recommended to the Company as an experienced and efficient Railroad Superintendent.

Civil Engineer.

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The experience of the Road since my visit in November, gives further evidence of the necessity of additional cars, and of immediate advantage that would result to the Company, if they were supplied.

Dr. Emanuel, the President of the Company, under date of December 24th, 1866, writes: "The receipts of the Road for the month of November were nearly $43,000. The Freight Depots of the Company at Vicksburg, the wharf boats, and some of the city warehouses, are filled with freight, waiting transportation over our Road. I am pursuaded that 80 to 100 additional cars could now be actively employed, and if supplied and the Road placed in good order, our receipts would immediately be very largely increased."

In a letter of more recent date, he says: "Our frieght continues to increase; the receipts for December will exceed $50,000, and if we had 100 more cars, would reach $75,000."

This accumulation of freight at Vicksburg added to that waiting along the Road, most fully shows the condition and requirements of the Road; while the business now done is at great cost, and at the neglect of the Road itself.

C. E.

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William E. Morris, Esq.

Dear Sir:

—We desire you to proceed to Mississippi in order to inspect thoroughly the condition of the Southern rail road extending from Vicksburg east to Meridian, and report to us, for the use of the bondholders, the result of your investigations. We wish you to pay particular attention to the state of the different depots, the track, the bridges, particularly that over the Big Black, the rolling stock, and the capacity of the whole for the accommodation of the business of the country through which it passes.

We also wish you to inquire into the economy of the road, and to make such suggestions for its improvement, both to the officers of the road and to us, as may present themselves to your mind. We should also like you to make inquiry as to the increased business likely to be derived from the connecting roads now built and being built, making this part of your report.

Also procure from the officers of the Company, a full and detailed statement of its finances, receipts, expenses, debts due, existing contracts, &c., up to as recent a date as practicable, giving, in detail, the large items of expenditure.

The President of the Road, Dr. M. Emanuel, and the other gentlemen connected with it, will, I doubt not, render you all the assistance they can in prosecuting your researches.

Very truly yours,

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Made by Treasurer of Company, Nov. 10, 1866.
Fuel, oil and waste,$2,600
Stock killed, and damages,900
Boarding and provisions,4,000
Supplies and shops,5,000
Big Black bridge and timber,4,500
U. S. taxes,2,800
Memphis and Ohio Rail Road,9,000
Bills payable,97,800
Pay rolls,52,700
Memphis and Charleston Rail Road claim,14,000

In addition to this sum, there is a debt due the National Bank of Vicksburg of $17,600, which it is expected will be paid out of unadjusted claims against the United States Government, which have been assigned to the Bank for its security.

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Estimated cost to repair Road, and furnish Equipment.
300 tons new iron, @ $85,$25,500
1,500 chairs for new iron, @ $11,500
100,000 ties, @ 50c.50,000
25 tons spikes, @ $160 per ton,4,000
30,000 chairs, @ 70c. each,21,000
Two and four mile trestles—rebuilding,15,000
Other trestles and bridges,5,000
30 miles ballasting, @ $750 per mile,22,500
20 miles ditching, @ $1002,000
New trunks in sliding cuts,1,500
50 platform cars, @ $850,$42,500
30 box cars, @ $1,00030,000
Total expenditure required to place road in good
condition and purchase equpiment,

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Bonded and permanent debt of the Southern Railroad Company, up to January 1st, 1868.The interest on the sterling income bonds is omitted on account of the expectation thta the same will be paid by the sale of cotton in England.There was issued by the Company $130,000 of ntoes to circulate as money, which is also omitted here, there not being a necessity at present to provide for their redemption.
Jan'y, 1867.
Interest to 1st
Jany', 1868.
Total amount due
1st Jan'y, 1868.
Bonds to Girard Bank$200,000 0073,000 0087,000 00$287 000 00
Bonds to Trustees United States Bank850,000 00327,500 00387,000 001,237,000 00
Bonds to James Magee, Trustee280,000 00101,190 00121,455 00410,955 00
Income Bonds278,895 00124,440 00143,962 65422,857 65
Sterling Income Bonds250,000 00250,000 00
Contractors' Bonds128,786 9629,255 7838,270 81167,057 77
Bills Payable172,780 9349,642 0061,736 66234,517 59
Robert McDowell12,144 094,335 415,185 4917,829 58
Totals$2,182,106 98709,363 14844,610 61$3,026,717 59

About this Document

  • Source: Report on the Condition and Prospects of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi
  • Author: William E. Morris
  • Publisher: E. C. Markley & Son
  • Published: Philadelphia
  • Date: 1867