Chickasaw spur near Mobile, about 4 miles in length, was started in
1918, during the wartime shipbuilding boom.
The GM&N purchased the right of way from its Frascati shops
to the town of Chickasaw on the Mobile River, north of the city.
This line curved to the west around Mobile.
While the road was under government control, the federal managers
refused to allow funds for completion of this line because it was
ďunneeded duplication of existing facilities.Ē
The Mobile and Ohio and the Southern Railway already served this
area with their lines which were in the northern section of Mobile.
Because the road lacked funds of its own, the project was not
pushed to completion while the government controlled the Companyís
operations. After the road
reverted to private control, the immediate value of the project
decreased greatly because of the decline in shipbuilding activity at
1924, however, when the state of Alabama began plans to build its
state-owned docks along the waterfront just north of Mobile, the
GM&N immediately made arrangements to complete the Chickasaw spur to
serve the new docks and other industrial development in that area.
The Louisville and Nashville also desired to use the spur along
with the GM&N so it, too, could serve this new activity. Work was begun in December 1924, and the spur put in service
during the following year.
the time that Mr. Tigrett became President of the GM&N, the already
close ties between the Birmingham and Northwestern and the GM&N
became stronger. The
GM&N decided not to build its own terminal in Jackson, Tennessee,
but to lease facilities from the B&NW, which had adequate space in
its station for both roads. In
June, 1922, the Board of Directors of the GM&N drafted a plan to
purchase the Birmingham and Northwestern; but because the plan proposed
to issue 3,000 shares of stock in the GM&N to the stockholders of
the B&NW, the Interstate Commerce Commission refused to approve the
plan. The N&NW refused
the GM&Nís next offer, and the idea of purchase was dropped
decision not to purchase did not destroy the working arrangements
between the two roads. In
July, 1923, Mr. Tigrett was authorized to negotiate for new terminal
facilities, with the GM&N paying a fair share of all costs on a
lease basis. A new purchase plan was proposed in 1924, and this time all
parties agreed to the transaction.
The GM&N bought the bonds of the B&NW and took an option
on 2,000 of the 3,000 shares of the B&NW stock.
These shares were to be bought for the nominal sum of $5,000.
The GM&N assumed complete control over operations in 1924 but
did not change its corporate setup at this time.
In April 1927, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized the
GM&N to buy 2,090 shares of Birmingham and Northwestern stock.
After this purchase, the B&NW was operated under a lease
agreement until 1929. Finally,
in 1929, the GM&N was allowed to merge the B&NW into the larger
Meridian and Memphis Railway was for all practical purposes a part of
the GM&N in 1920, since control of the M&M had been acquired by
purchase of all stocks and bonds in 1918.
The two roads were operated so much in common that in 1920 they
issued joint tariffs, but no legal merger had taken place.
In 1921 the Board of the GM&N was advised that approximately
$1,000 could be saved each month if a merger were completed.
Approval for the merger could not be obtained from the Interstate
Commerce Commission, however, because the ICC was not allowing any
mergers until the national rail consolidation plan was completed.
In 1923, separate operation of the Meridian and Memphis ceased
and the GM&N operated this mileage under lease as a direct part of
its own lines. Finally, in
1929 the Interstate Commerce Commission gave its approval, and this
small company was merged into the GM&N along with the Birmingham and
Northwestern and the Jackson and Eastern.
A. Neville, leader of the group of Meridian citizens who had developed
the Meridian and Memphis, was also interested in the formation of the
Jackson and Eastern. A
charter was secured to build from Union, Mississippi, to Jackson,
Mississippi, and by November, 1916, the road had built the first 13
miles to the sawmill town of Sebastapol.
This short line served valuable timber interests, but it could
not really be classed as a common carrier.
Sporadic efforts were made from time to time to extend the line,
but little was accomplished before 1920.
As early as April, 1922, however, the Board of the GM&N
showed its interest in seeing the Jackson and Eastern extended.
Because of this, the officers of the GM&N were authorized by
the Board in September 1923, to lend the Jackson and Eastern up to
$25,000 for building purposes.
GM&N continued to advance funds for building and to buy Jackson and
Eastern bonds up to a new maximum of $100,000.
In the first part of 1926 the GM&N worked out a purchase plan
with the owners of the Jackson and Eastern to assume complete control of
their road with its franchise to build into Jackson.
The objective of the GM&N was to rebuild the mileage already
constructed and also to extend the line to Jackson, some 40 miles from
the end of the Jackson and Eastern at Lena, Mississippi. With this entry into Jackson, Mississippi, secured, the
GM&N would be able to open up an entirely new phase of its
operations. Jackson was the
northern terminus of the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad, which
extended south to the city for which it was named.
The NOGN was eager to enter into a reciprocal traffic agreement
to allow its freight to be hauled on north of Mississippiís capital
city by a partner other than the Illinois Central.
Through this combination, the GM&N expected, finally, to
reach New Orleans and its extensive north-south freight movement.
with this extension to Jackson, Mississippi, and the New Orleans
arrangement, was a plan to effectively extend the road northward beyond
Jackson, Tennessee. An
agreement was reached with the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis
Railway which permitted GM&N trains to operate into Paducah,
Kentucky. The GM&N was
to pay a specified price for each car of freight moved over this
145-mile stretch of NC&StL line.
GM&Nís own engines and crews would make this run.
Thus, the service capacity of the road would extend north to
Paducah, even though the GM&N did not own or lease the trackage over
which it was to operate.
provision for freight movement to Paducah was only part of the story.
The new service pattern was to reach much farther because one of
the Midwestís stronger carriers, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
had a line into Paducah which reached St. Louis, Chicago and almost all
of the central Midwest. A
cooperative preferential traffic agreement would thus open New Orleans
and the south to the CB&Q and the midwest to the burgeoning
GM&N. The struggling
lumber carrier of 1920 thus would became a junior partner but still a
major player in the rail systems of the great Midwestern part of the
United States by these activities at the end of 1926.
of these arrangements for expansion of the operations of the GM&N
were made prior to approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Actually, none of them could go into effect until the commission
gave its assent to the plans. Fortunately, the approval of the ICC was forthcoming and at
the same time the Commission approved the acquisition and rebuilding of
the Jackson and Eastern.
GM&NóN&STLóCB&Q arrangement went into effect on August
1, 1926. Operations to
Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans were authorized to begin on July
1,1927. Because of
construction difficulties, it was July 17 before regularly scheduled
freight service began over the new part of this line.
GM&Nís last major acquisition during the period 1920-30 came very
close to the end of the decade. In
September 1929, the Board of the GM&N decided to try to acquire
control of the New Orleans Great Northern through an exchange of stock. ICC approval was secured and on December 30, the transaction
took place. No immediate
changes in operations were planned for the two lines, except that the
top GM&N officials were named to similar positions for the New
Orleans Great Northern without any increase in pay, reflecting in part
the reason for this change. This
move brought under one management approximately 1,000 miles of main
line, which was well over twice the 409 miles the GM&N had in 1920.