History Hunts Blog

Following Louisiana's & Mississippi's Historic Railroads

My Ride Reports

Finding the Lumber Mill Railroads

Monday, July 18, 2016

Three Mississippi Branches with Connections (unfinished)

With my latest interest in the Baton Rouge to Zee route, which the paper company at Zee
might one day use, 
I set about to try to learn a little about the rails in that neck of the woods. 
Boredom at 5AM will do that.
Actually I found a page I'd saved on the Columbia and Silver Creek RR. 
From the name I envisioned yet another ancient logging railroad.
Not so. It wasn't ancient.
Little did I know that it would lead me down the line to the Zee mill.
I've fooled around with the periphery of  railroad history enough to know the 
railroads can be connected like Cajun cousins.
Just dealing with the history of this family made me dizzy.
Or maybe it was the explanations  I found that weren't so clear.
Or, my comprehension's clutch was slipping. 

Can you see the three segments which resemble viruses on a microscope slide?

In red is the Columbia and Silver Creek Railroad's first segement.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reporting mark     CLSL
Locale     Mississippi

Dates of operation     1982–1992
Predecessor     Illinois Central
Successor     Gloster Southern

Length     28.7 miles (46.2 km)
Headquarters  were in Columbia, Mississippi.

The GM&O occupied the other (west) side of the Pearl River between Columbia and Wanilla,
roughly on the same latitude as Silver Creek.
Don't ignore that statement. It will be helpful later on.

There is nothing like connecting parts of the spiderweb.
There were rails from Wanilla to the junction just above Silver Creek.
Ferguson is an important location on those old rails which now end  just east of there.
Ferguson and Wanilla can be seen on the map below.

The Columbia and Silver Creek Railroad (reporting mark CLSL) was a shortline railroad formerly operating between a connection with the Illinois Central slightly north of  Silver Creek and ran  south to Columbia,
28.7 miles. (map above).

Originally, that section  was built by the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad around 1905.
That branch was later acquired by the Illinois Central RR.
 The Illinois Central Gulf sold the old Columbia - Silver Creek stretch to the
Columbia and Silver Creek RR in 1982.
The Columbia and Silver Cr. was owned by the Marion County Railroad Authority.
This fact is little known and should be jotted down.

Traffic consisted of paper, forest products, chemicals, furniture. Service began shortly thereafter.
 It  was operated by the  Columbia & Silver Creek Railroad until 1988.
 Marion County  sold the branch on November 1, 1988 to the Gloster Southern RR.

  From November 1988 to December 1995, the Gloster Southern operated the 29 mile line from Silver Creek to Columbia, Mississippi. It was called the "Columbia Route" by Georgia Pacific

This is quoting a source and is not guaranteed.

The CLSL  got rid of its Columbia to Silver Creek Branch in 1988.
Then the CLSL shifted location from the old Columbia line to a branch from Taylorsville to Soso.

 This newer segment ran from an Illinois Central connection at Taylorsville and ended at Soso, for a distance of 10.5 miles.
That connection was a dead end which came off the main at Saratoga.
  It  was previously part of the Gulf & Ship Island  mainline between Gulfport and Memphis, Tennessee.
It ceased operations in 1992.

. (Map of the Taylorsville to Soso route,  below)

Imagine the fun you could have being from Soso.
"How's it going?"
"I'm having a Soso day", and so on and so worth.

On the reread I just remembered I'd been to Taylorsville, I think.
It was as Southern as it gets.
It was so hot and so humid.
I was in search of Ross Barnett and didn't do the town justice.
I was very far from base camp and had a long ways to go.
Excerpts below.

The quote below,  "hot sweating grueling trip through Dixie", comes from a long lost song which
reflects on some Yankee's misadventure.
 Mine was not a misadventure though I was pretty brown and wilted at the end.

 Oh but there twas more to Taylorsville which this rail investigation has unearthed.

It seems that the town really relied on the railroad.
The purple line is transferred from my tracing the rails on Google Earth.
Lumber operations south of town. No rail connections presently.

On into town.
 At first I didn't see the building at the bottom left.

This shot is to the right of the one above.

This one is northwest of town.
I hadn't seen the rails.

Then I took to the streets.
This is south of that building which was in the lower left corner of that picture.
 Why had the rails been left?

This is why. Esthetics. They fit perfectly with the Gulf and Ship Island RR Station.

From the town's great website.

Now, lets look at Soso.
 Soso was a huge disappointment.
Only the raised location of a junkyard scale marked the old route.

Let's end this investigative portion on  a positive note.
Taylorsville does have a rail connection to its north park.
Black lines are the rails that server the Georgia Pacific plant.

Yep, real rails.


Gloster Southern Railroad
Gloster, MS to Slaughter, LA
Dates of operation     1986–2008
Track gauge     4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters     Gloster, MS

The Gloster Southern Railroad began operations in August of 1986, providing shortline rail service from Gloster, Mississippi, 35 miles south to Slaughter, Louisiana
The line was owned by Georgia-Pacific which purchased and refurbished the abandoned Yazoo & Mississippi Valley  branch line to provide service to a its plywood mill operation in Gloster. 
It interchanged with the Illinois Central Gulf at Slaughter.
The ICG operated the rails from Baton Rouge to Zee where there was a paper plant.
The GLSR operated two or three freight trains per week until the Gloster Oakwood plant closed in December 2002. 
(Obviously I'm doing a lot of quoting)

 One year later, Genesee and Wyoming Inc acquired three short-line railroads from Georgia Pacific.
That sale did not  include the Gloster Southern.

In September 2004, Georgia Pacific announced that they would re-open the Gloster oakwood mill.
The railroad was not restarted.

The Gloster Southern Railroad applied to discontinue service on its entire line in December 2009.
By June 2013 all of the track had been moved from Slaughter north
He had failed to mention that the rails from Zee, crossing Big Thomson Creek
to Slaughter are still somewhat intact.
The rails from Slaughter to Baton Rouge are repairable.

And, the scavengers missed some of the rails from Gloster to Slaughter.

Gloster is where the pictures start.

Gloster, Mississippi, 1948  The railroad is in the distance

Looking from the railroad in 2015

Backing up a bit.

Looking South
The yellow line is my drawn in route finder.
Drawn from space it was not too far off.

Down there I found this.
This was amazing.
Are these now the corporate offices of a railroad that will be born again?
Or seriously, was this the depot in Gloster?

    North of the main street crossing was this.

Following the rails north out of town.

The road joins MS 33 and crosses the Homochitto River.
Those are the pilings of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley crossing the river.
The Gloster did not go north.
I had no idea what these pilings were on a previous trip.

Next, we go south from Gloster into Louisiana.

But, first, more Mississippi.

South of Gloster.
Centreville (notice the Old English spelling).



Depot area?

Excavating limestone?

2002 was not that long ago.

Yes it was.

  Into Louisiana:



The scavengers missed some of the iron in Norwood

Wilson, La.68

Below is
Gurley, La. La.963

How would  you like to be a Gurley boy and belong to the Gurley Football Team?
Being a Gurley Girl seems attractive.

Zee to come.
I could supply those shots.

Back to the Columbia to Silver Creek route.
I started thinking about how the railroad got its engines to Taylorsville and Soso.
This got huge too.

I'm starting to wear out so just this and I'll have to regain my momentum.
I'll be brief.

This is a pure guess since I don't know much about Mississippi.

This is the way I think it went.

The equipment left the Columbia Route by way of Silver Creek.
The Illinois Central Gulf ran the route of the old Mississippi Central down to Hattisburg.
This route is now the Rails to Trails Longleaf Trace.
At Hattisburg they went north to Saratoga, still an active rail route.

At Saratoga the rails went to Taylorsville.
Remember the Wiki explanation said the Taylorsville and Soso had an ICG connection at Taylorsville.

The rails are still intact and active from Saratoga to the new industrial park at Taylorsville.
The old ICG route from  Silver Springs south to Hattisburg was abandoned in 1991.
The date that is given for the Taylorsville to Soso route closing is 1992. 

But it gets thicker.

That old Mississppi Central RR had a history that ran through Wanilla.
Remember Wanilla on the GMO?


From Wiki:
Mississippi Central (1897–1967)

A line started in 1897 as the "Pearl and Leaf Rivers Railroad" was built by the J.J. Newman Lumber Company from Hattiesburg, to Sumrall. In 1904 the name was changed to the Mississippi Central Railroad (reporting mark MSC). In 1906 the Natchez and Eastern Railway was formed to build a rail line from Natchez to Brookhaven. In 1909 this line was absorbed by the Mississippi Central.

For a short time during the 1920s, the line operated a service named "The Natchez Route", running trains from Natchez to Mobile, Alabama through trackage agreements with the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad. At Natchez, freight cars were ferried across the Mississippi River to connect with the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway to institute through traffic into Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1967 the property of the Mississippi Central was sold to the Illinois Central Railroad.

The explanation above does not mention the Mississippi Central running east from Silver Springs, but it did according to the Long Leaf Trace website which sites it as being the builder prior to Illinois Central Gulf's ownership. If I could find my old MS Rails Map I wouldn't be spinning.

More later or maybe not.
This was pretty scattered, just as the branches were.
A hint. The Gloster Southern is credited with owning a lot of connecting rail in
southwest Mississippi. At least my old topo map labels those rails as "Gloster Southern".
Maybe in the next chapter I'll trace what my map calls GS and we'll se how that looks.

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