The M&B Shortline Verbal

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Slide1:

The Marianna & Blountstown Shortline A Short History With Photos Many of these Photos downloaded and used by permission of Florida State Archives A Slideshow Created by Hugh Rountree

Slide2:

A Pictorial History of the Marianna & Blountstown R. R. Company Like many railroads chartered in the late 19th and early 20 th centuries the colorful Marianna & Blountstown shortline railroad in the Florida Panhandle was an outgrowth of the lumber industry in the South. In the early 20th century, Rufus Pennington and C. R. Evans were lumbermen operating in Nashville, Berrien County, Georgia as the Pennington & Evans Company. Before the end of the first decade of the new century, Pennington & Evans’ timber resources were nearing depletion. Looking south, the lumbermen acquired a large tract of prime timberland in Calhoun County, Florida. A major drawback for the location was the lack of a common carrier railroad to connect their timber holdings to the national rail network. Blountstown, the county seat, was 27 miles from the nearest railroad, the Louisville & Nashville, at Marianna, Florida.

Slide3:

To harvest their newly acquired timber, and ship the lumber manufactured from it, Pennington & Evans incorporated the Marianna & Blountstown Railroad Company on April 22, 1909 for the purpose of building a 27-mile common carrier railroad between the company’s namesake points with an additional two miles from Blountstown to Old Blountstown, on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Other stated pur-poses for the new corporation were to own and operate floating equipment on the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers; and to own and operate electric railroads, electric light plants, telegraph & telephone lines, and engage in general real estate and general mercantile business. The stockholders organ-ized the road on June 8, 1909.

Slide4:

Beginning at a connection with the L&N at Marianna, the M&B immediately started building southwesterly through Blountstown to Old Blountstown. The M&B officially began operations on January 1, 1910, with two daily-except-Sunday round trip mixed trains running the full 29 miles between Marianna and Old Blountstown. Besides connecting with the L&N at Marianna, the road also connected with Callahan Line steamers and Merchants & Planter Line steamers at Old Blountstown. Because the territory through which the road operated was not well developed for agriculture, logging and lumber manufac-turing were the primary industries. Beside carload shipments, the L&N delivered to the M&B at least one carload of LCL (less-than-carload) merchandise daily, mostly for receivers at Blountstown. Under a joint facilities agreement, the M&B used the passenger and freight station of the L&N at Marianna.

Slide5:

Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 81 was one of two locomotives acquired by the M&B before it started up in January 1910. The engine is at a dealer’s yard before being shipped to the M&B. The other loco-motive was a small Mogul (2-6-0) locomotive, lightweight No. 55. Unfortunately, no photograph of No. 55 is available. Russell Tedder collection

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This August 29, 1910 listing of the M&B in the Official Railway Guide shows the first schedules of the two round-trip trains operated between Marianna and Old Blountstown. Russell Tedder collection

Slide7:

On June 2, 1910, following completion of the M&B line, the Pennington & Evans Company reorganized as the Blountstown Manufacturing Company which became the legal entity for stock ownership of the M&B and the sawmill the company was building at Blountstown. The new company was also building a logging railroad south from Old Blountstown for hauling logs from the company’s timberlands to the mill at Blountstown. The 15-mile logging road was completed to Scotts Ferry, Fla., on the Chipola River, in 1912.

Slide8:

In the early years, the M&B carried passengers on two daily-except-Sunday round trips from Marianna to Blountstown and return. In this early scene, 2 couples are posing for the photographer alongside the rear of a passenger coach . Florida State Archives

Slide9:

On August 8, 1913, for the consideration of revenue earned from shipment of naval stores and for keeping the track in safe operating condition, the Blountstown Manufacturing Company granted trackage rights over the logging railroad to the Marianna & Blountstown. The lumber company included Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 113 in the deal. Thus the M&B was operating a total of 45 miles of road including the two miles between Blountstown and Old Blountstown. Besides hauling logs for the lumber company, the Scott’s Ferry line handled naval stores shipments by H. B. Gaskin, the Marysville Naval Stores Company and the Chipola Turpentine Company.

Slide10:

When it took over operations on the logging road in 1913, the M&B was operating two locomotives, one passenger coach, one combine, two boxcars and six flatcars. The road was also operating Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 113 that came with the trackage rights deal on the logging railroad. The road pro-vided passenger service on the Scott’s Ferry line with one round trip daily-except-Sunday mixed train that also handled naval stores and other freight. By August 1928, the M&B had reduced service to one daily-except-Sunday round trip on the entire line. The M&B changed the name of Old Blountstown to McNeal about 1920.

Slide11:

The M&B purchased this trim Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 70 in 1920. It is at the M&B shops at Blountstown in this September 8, 1940 scene. No. 70 replaced the old and tired No. 113 which the M&B had acquired in 1913 from the Blountstown Manufacturing Com-pany along with the trackage rights agreement to operate over the lumber company’s Scott’s Ferry line. Russell Tedder collection

Slide12:

The M&B connected with Chipola River and Dead Lakes steamers at Scott’s Ferry. On December 10, 1924, the M&B received permission from the Interstate Commerce Commission to extend its operation of the tracks of the Blountstown Manufacturing Company westward one mile across the Chipola River to the Walker-Jordan Lumber Company sawmill and naval stores operation that had been established on the west side of the river at Myron, Florida. The lumber company had already extended the logging railroad three miles west of the Chipola River. It operated the short logging road with one small steam locomotive and five or six log cars.

Slide13:

The Blountstown Manufacturing Company discon-tinued its logging and sawmill operations about 1925. About this same time, or earlier, the Neal Lumber & Manufacturing Company established a mill at Old Blountstown and operated log trains on the Scott’s Ferry line to supply timber to the sawmill. After shut-ting down its sawmill In 1925, the Blountstown Man-ufacturing Company sold a large tract of timberland to Alfred Felix DuPont of Wilmington, Delaware. Un-known to Mr. DuPont at the time, the M&B was in-cluded in the deal. When the DuPont interests be-came aware that they owned the M&B, they named J. C. Packard of Marianna as general manager of the line. Packard obtained ownership of the road later when DuPont separated the railroad from the timber-lands.

Slide14:

Blountstown Manufacturing Company’s winding down of its operations resulted in a need to dispose of the logging railroad to Scotts Ferry that the M&B had been operating under trackage rights. Naming 12 industries and numerous smaller shipping interests on the Scotts Ferry line that depended on rail trans-portation, the M&B petitioned the ICC on July 8, 1927 for per-mission to buy the logging railroad from the lumber manu-facturing company. The DuPont interests advanced funds that were used for the purchase. In addition to the industries on the Scott’s Ferry line, the Neal Lumber & Manufacturing Company at Old Blountstown had been operating its own log trains over the line at a rate of 80 cents per thousand feet of logs. The M&B expected that reve-nue from continuing log train operation would be sufficient to pay the rental on the 58.25 pound rails leased from the L&N. The ICC approved M&B’s request to buy the logging railroad on July 29, 1927.

Slide15:

The increased availability of automobiles and improved roads spelled the death knell for passenger service which the M&B abandoned on December 3, 1929. O. O. Miller became general manager of the M&B in September 1930 and was elected president on May 30, 1939. By June 23, 1947, Miller had obtained sole ownership of the M&B. The M&B had high ambitions in the early 1930s. In November of that year the railroad applied to the ICC for permission to acquire the 32 mile Alabama, Florida & Gulf Railroad that extended from Cowarts, Ala., to Greenwood Florida. The M&B planned to extend the AF&G nine miles south from Greenwood to Marianna. The road also proposed to extend the AF&G from Wilson, Ala., to Dothan, Alabama. The AF&G had earlier received permission for these two extensions but was unable to finance the new construction.

Slide16:

Lumber interests in the vicinity of Blountstown were particularly anxious for the direct line to Dothan to materialize, thus resulting in lower rates to northern points. They were also holding further developments in abeyance, awaiting the outcome of the M&B’s re-quest to the ICC. On December 8, 1932, the ICC granted the M&B’s request to buy the AF&G and make the extensions. However, the company was unable to raise the nec-essary capital to complete the transaction. In the meantime, the AF&G was insolvent and in the hands of a receiver. After the M&B purchase fell through, the receiver of the bankrupt AF&G abandoned the line in the late 1930s.

Slide17:

Alabama Florida & Gulf (AF&G) No. 14 is at Cowarts, Ala., in this 1935 scene. Russell Tedder collection

Slide18:

The Alabama Florida & Gulf Railroad had already been shut down when its rail-highway bus No. E-1 was photographed in Cowarts, Ala., on June 2, 1940. Russell Tedder collection

Slide19:

This 1933 M&B timetable shows a schedule of trains Between Marianna and Myron, across the Chipola River, one mile from Scott’s Ferry. Russell Tedder collection

Slide20:

Traffic on the Scotts Ferry line was reduced as the pine forests were depleted by the mid-1930s. The number of regular shippers dwindled to a charcoal plant that shipped approximately one car per month and a shipper of resinous waste wood commonly known as tar wood. When the tar wood shipper informed the M&B that its product along the line had been depleted, the traffic on the Scotts Ferry line did not warrant continued operation. On June 4, 1936, the M&B requested permission from the ICC to abandon the 15-mile Scotts Ferry line. The ICC granted the petition on July 18. When it dismantled the track, the M&B kept about three miles of track immediately southeast of Blountstown to service in-dustries there.

Slide21:

M & B's side-door caboose No. 102 is sandwiched between 2 box-cars at the end of a northbound freight as it leaves McNeal en route to Marianna on February 7, 1942.  The side door was used for hand-ling LCL (less-than-carload) freight or "merchandise" as it was often called. Most likely, the train will drop the boxcar behind the caboose on the mainline for loading or unloading at some point at Blounts-town or between there and McNeal. Russell Tedder collection

Slide22:

In this 1942 scene, M&B Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 101 is leaving McNeal with a northbound freight en route to Marianna and the L&N connection. Russell Tedder collection

Slide23:

During World War II, agricultural products replaced some of the revenue lost from dwindling forest products business on the M&B. In 1945, shippers loaded 632 carloads of watermelons and 92 car-loads of cucumbers on the M&B. The fertile area south of the Chipola River developed into a major truck farming area. Altha, Fla., a station on the M&B eleven miles north of Blountstown, was the ship-ping center for the agricultural products.

Slide24:

In this early 1940s scene, an FGEX (Fruit Growers Express) vent-ilated refrigerated car is spotted at a produce loading shed at Altha, the shipping center for produce on the M&B. To the far left is the end of a loaded pulpwood car which will be coupled to the FGEX car for adding to the train. Florida State Archives

Slide25:

In this early 1940s view, M&B’s northbound freight is picking up and switching produce cars at the shed in Altha. Note that the pulpwood car is now coupled to the FGEX car. Florida State Archives

Slide26:

Led by Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No.101, a northbound M&B freight is en route from Blountstown to Marianna in this 1945 scene. Russell Tedder collection

Slide27:

This circa 1945 scene shows a going away view of the northbound freight in the vicinity of Altha. Russell Tedder collection

Slide28:

In this circa 1945 scene, there seems to be a substantial flurry of activity as the daily-except-Sunday freight arrives & Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 101 runs around the train in preparation for the return trip to Marianna. Russell Tedder collection

Slide29:

M&B Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 444 is on the siding by the shop at Blountstown, Fla., in this April 28, 1940 scene. Since No. 444 was the lightest and least used of the steam engines, the M&B kept it as standby for the new 70-ton diesel-electric that the road bought in 1947. Fortunately, the 70-tonner had little down time and No. 444 continued to remain in the shop until the early 1970’s when M&B sold it. Russell Tedder collection

Slide30:

The M&B had used wood-burning steam engines from its startup in 1910 until 1944 when the com-pany converted them to coal burners. In 1945, while World War II was winding down, the General Electric Company developed a light-weight 600 horsepower diesel-electric locomotive for use on shortlines like the M&B with light rail and light axle loadings on bridges. The model was designated as a GE 70-tonner. In September 1947, the M&B bought GE 70-tonner No. 75, one of the first GE locomotives to come off the assembly line.

Slide31:

The M&B reported very favorably on its GE 70-ton diesel-electric locomotive in this 1950 GE sales brochure. Russell Tedder collection

Slide32:

This 1947 scene is a General Electric publicity shot of M&B’s brand new GE 70-tonner diesel-electric loco-motive No . 75 pulling the road’s daily-except-Sunday freight train. M&B acquired the new diesel in Sep-tember 1947. Florida State Archives

Slide33:

By the end of 1947, the M&B had scrapped two of its remaining three steam engines with the pro-ceeds going toward the purchase price of the 70-tonner. Since Ten-Wheeler No. 444 was the light-est and least used of the steam engines, the M&B kept it as standby for the new 70-tonner diesel-electric. Fortunately, the 70-tonner had little down time and No. 444 continued to remain in the shop until the M&B sold it to an individual, Dr. Albert Folds, who placed it on his Father-In-Law’s farm, The V. S. Bevis Dairy Farm, near Malone, Florida, a few miles north of Marianna.

Slide34:

In this February 1960 scene, M&B GE 70-tonner No. 75 is leading a five car southbound train through Altha, Fla., en route from Marianna to Blountstown. The caboose is No. 1. John C. Hawkins photo, Russell Tedder collection

Slide35:

In this February 1960 scene, M&B GE 70-tonner No. 75 is leading a five car southbound train through Altha, Fla., en route from Marianna to Blountstown. The caboose is No. 1. John C. Hawkins photo, Russell Tedder collection

Slide36:

In this February 1960 scene, the rear of a five car southbound train is passing through Altha, Fla., en route from Marianna to Blountstown. The caboose is No. 1. John C. Hawkins photo, Russell Tedder collection

Slide37:

M&B Caboose No. 1 is bringing up the rear of a southbound freight near Altha en route from Marianna to Blountstown in this February 1960 scene. John C. Hawkins photo, Russell Tedder collection

Slide38:

In this February 1960 going away scene, a southbound freight is near Altha en route from Marianna to Blountstown. John C. Hawkins photo, Russell Tedder collection

Slide39:

In this circa 1950s scene, M&B officials pose for a photo-graph with GE 70-tonner No. 75 and the train crew which is taking a break from switching in the Blountstown Yard. Florida State Archives

Slide40:

Following the death of O. O. Miller in 1958, his brother-in-law, Alton Denby, became general manager of the M&B. Mrs. O. O. Miller succeeded her late husband as president. In 1959, Miller’s estate sold the line to George Tapper, a state senator from the area, who was interested in developing crushed rock mines south of Marianna as a new source of revenue on the M&B. Denby continued as general manager. Tapper was successful in negotiating a contract with the Corps of Engineers to supply crushed stone and rip-rap for use in building jetties along the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers as far north as Columbus, Georgia. The heavy rock tonnage took its toll on the M&B’s tracks as the road worked nearly around-the-clock to handle the crushed stone carloads.

Slide41:

By 1963, the GE 70-tonner was in need of a complete, but expensive, overhaul. However, the M&B opted instead to buy a 45-ton Whitcomb diesel-electric with a center cab and side rods. The road assigned the No. 44 to the center cab diesel. The following year, the M&B bought another second-hand diesel, a Whitcomb 80-ton model No. 88 which, like No. 44, was already obsolete. It was also the road’s heaviest locomotive which was not good for the light rail and bridges. During the time of these acquisitions, the M&B sold No. 75 to a locomotive dealer in St. Louis.

Slide42:

In this mid 1960’s view, M&B’s 45 ton Whitcomb Diesel Engine Locomotive No. 44 appears to be “in tow” behind the Whitcomb 80-ton No. 88 on a southbound freight from Marianna to Blountstown. Bruce Roberts Collection

Slide43:

In this mid 1960’s scene, M&B’s Whitcomb diesel-electric 80-ton locomotive No. 88 is leading a southbound freight from Marianna to Blountstown. It appears that M&B’s 45-ton Whitcomb diesel-electric locomotive No. 44 is “in tow” behind No. 88. Bruce Roberts collection

Slide44:

In this mid to late 1960’s scene, M&B’s 45-ton Whitcomb diesel-electric locomotive No. 44 is switching at Blountstown. By this time the Engineer had christened No. 44 as “The Joby Line”, in honor of a grandchild. Florida State Archives

Slide45:

Signs of the end were beginning to appear in the decade of the 1960s. As carloads declined after completion of the Corps of Engineers contract, the M&B deferred maintenance of tracks and bridges, apparently in a helpless cycle. In 1969, Tapper turned the M&B over to a management team of Carl F. Fischer and Earl K. Durden, both associated at the time with the Chattahoochee Industrial Railroad in nearby Cedar Springs, Ga., near Dothan, Alabama. Despite an impeccable rep-utation for integrity and expertise, these capable railroad men could not defy the laws of economics and turn the railroad around. During this time, the M&B acquired another GE 70-tonner, No. 99, from the L&N for a very low price on a lease-purchase arrange-ment. Unfortunately, the road got what it paid for as the diesel lasted only until late 1970, after which Tapper shut the M&B down. In January 1971 Tapper petitioned the ICC for permission to abandon the road. Strong opposition from local farmers, merchants and other businessmen prompted the ICC to deny the abandonment petition .

Slide46:

The M&B acquired L&N GE 70-tonner No. 99 in the late 1960s. It is shown switching at Blountstown in this 1968 view. The M&B never renumbered or lettered this engine which was only on the roster less than two years. Russell Tedder collection

Slide47:

In this 1970 scene, the M&B shops adjacent to the station and general office building at Blountstown appear to be in a serious state of disrepair. Note the decrepit caboose and Engine No. 444 in the shadows. Russell Tedder collection

Slide48:

In this circa 1971 scene, Louisville & Nashville EMD model SW-1 600 horsepower switcher is handling a short two car freight, sans caboose, through some of the wooded area along the M&B right-of-way. M&B purchased the diesel in 1970 and later renumbered it to No. 1. Russell Tedder collection

Slide49:

Tapper found a solution in the sale of the line in 1971 to Joseph C. Bonanno, of Essex Falls, New Jersey. Due to intense pressure from public officials that created a high visibility for the M&B, the ICC approved the sale in a record time of only three days. Despite a record of questionable dealings on other shortline railroads, Bonanno was soon credited as the savior of the M&B & pictured as the man with the “white hat.” However, when the needed and promised repairs to the line and service improvements were not forthcoming, Bonanno soon lost favor with Calhoun county citizens who were formerly enamored by him. It appeared that Bonanno wanted to use the railroad as a base to paint and repair boxcars which was a lucrative business during the severe car shortages in the early 1970s. After heavy pressure from elected officials and the public, Bonanno attempted to sell the M&B on June 8, 1972 to Alexander Theoharous of Connecticut and Alfred Merolla of New Jersey. The deal was aborted when the check for the purchase priced was declined by the bank for insufficient funds. Bonanno regained possession of the M&B by default on December 6, 1972.

Slide50:

In this 1972 view, M&B’s model SW-1 600 horsepower switcher No. 1 is switching at Blountstown. The end was in sight for the struggling shortline. Russell Tedder collection

Slide51:

In this 1973 view, M&B Nos. 444, 44 and 88 are derelict on the grave-yard line at the road’s shops in Blountstown. Nos. 44 and 88 were eventually sold or scrapped. The M&B later sold No. 444 to Albert Folds. In the late 1980s, Blountstown citizens located the engine in Houston and had it returned to Blountstown. The city had the venerable old locomotive cosmetically restored and placed on dis-play near the old M&B office and shop complex. In memory of one of M&B’s cabooses, the city also acquired a steel caboose num-bered 102 which they displayed along with No. 444. Russell Tedder collection

Slide52:

In this early 1970s view, M&B’s last caboose, No. 1, has been relegated to the graveyard and awaits disposition on the siding ajacent to the shops at Blountstown. Russell Tedder collection

Slide53:

Adding the the mounting woes, flooding in 1973 did severe damage to the already decrepit bridge over the Chipola River. The photographer was facing upstream at the M&B bridge over the Chipola River in this 1973 scene. Russell Tedder collection

Slide54:

In this 1973 view is seen the top side of the Chipola River Bridge on the M&B. Russell Tedder Collection

Slide55:

In this 1973 view, the bridge over the Chipola River is in decrepit condition. Note the cables attached to trees to help support the rickety structure. Russell Tedder collection

Slide56:

As seen in this 1973 view, the Marianna & Blountstown tracks are in a critical state of disrepair. Russell Tedder collection

Slide57:

Although the M&B still handled some traffic, service was at best erratic due to the high frequency of derailments on the deteriorated tracks. On August 22, 1973, following record flooding which further damaged the already tenuous Chipola River Bridge, Bonanno petitioned the ICC for permission to abandon the M&B from the Chipola River south to the end of the line at Blountstown. On January 16, 1974, before the ICC rendered a decision on the earlier petition, Bonanno amended the petition to include abandonment of the entire line. In its first decision, rendered on June 2, 1975, the ICC rejected the petition. However, the Commission reversed its decision on November 24, 1976 and allowed Bonanno to formally abandon the entire line of the M&B.

Slide58:

In due time, the Marianna & Blountstown Railroad was relegated to history. Fortunately for posterity, citizens of Blountstown arranged to have M&B’s Ten-Wheeler (4-6-0) No. 444 returned to Blountstown in the late 1990s. Along with a bright red caboose, No. 102, the steam engine is displayed on a well kept track in Blountstown. It is a fitting memorial to the little railroad that was once the life-line of Calhoun County and served the area with pride for over 60 years.

Slide59:

Engine No. 444 as it looks now on display in Blountstown! Photo by Hugh Rountree

Slide60:

The caboose that the City of Blountstown bought and painted red to display along with Engine No. 444, was removed from it’s running gear and installed upon that of the original M&B, thus replacing the body of the Original Caboose, which was in a sad shape of disrepair. Photo by Hugh Rountree

Slide61:

In the year 2006, The City of Blountstown applied for and successfully received a grant to restore and renovate the old depot building as a Museum. Also to make im-provements to the Train and Caboose dis-play & Depot site, with added safety walk-ways using flashing red lights for slowing traffic. In addition they managed to add a convenient parking area for visitors to the Train display and to the Depot Museum. Since then the City has come up with funds to have No. 444 painted to match the original color.

Slide62:

The Renovated Depot Museum, as seen from the street side. Photo by Hugh Rountree

Slide63:

The Renovated Depot Museum, as seen from the Parking Lot. Photo By Hugh Rountree

Slide64:

In its March 1978 State Rail Plan, the State of Florida conducted a study of the Marianna & Blountstown to determine the feasibility of re-building the line. In a benefit/cost analysis, the State determined that it would cost over $6,851,316 to rehabilitate the line using heavier rail & replacing the Chipola River Bridge with a concrete and steel structure. The option of using the existing 70-pound rail would have saved $2 million, still leaving a net cost of $4,851,316. The study noted that since the cessation of the operation of the M&B, manufacturing materials and products had been moved successfully by truck, and that the trucking industry had responded quickly to the lack of rail service in the Blountstown area.

Slide65:

Construction of Interstate Highway 10 also occurred about the same time, taking a 300 foot section of the line. Rehabilitation of the M&B would have required construction of an Interstate standard overpass. The study found it difficult to quantify bene-fits for M&B shippers. Only three shippers returned questionnaires that the State had asked to be completed. The State Rail Plan concluded that the bene-fit of reconstruction the already defunct rail-road did not warrant the costs that would be incurred.

With Special Thanks To:

With Special Thanks To Russell Tedder For Providing A Great Summary History Of The Marianna & Blountstown Shortline Railway Written especially for this Photo Slideshow

Slide67:

Many Of The Photos Found In This Slideshow Were Downloaded And Used With Full Permission From Florida State Archives. Here is the URL: http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/

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