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HawkinsRails.net - Industrial and Lumber collections

T. R. Miller Mill Company

Alabama Industrial

The T R Miller Mill Company owned and operated two plants at Brewton, Al, northeast of Mobile. One plant was a standard lumber mill, while the other -- about a mile to the east -- was a telephone pole treatment plant. The company operated a short pike through the woods between the two facilities, using a pair of light Baldwins: a handsome "Prairie" and an unusual 2-4-2 tank. Although both steamers have been gone from Brewton for decades, T R Miller Mill Company is still in operation and utilizes a well-worn GE center-cab switcher.

Spotlight: Robert C. Rucker

September 2015

I was delighted to receive some online correspondence from Dr. Brian Rucker, professor of history and the grandson of a long-time Miller Mill railroader. Brian's initial note to me included these lines:

I saw your shots of the Baldwin steam Locomotive 101 that used to operate at the T. R. Miller Mill Co. in Brewton, AL. My grandfather, Robert C. Rucker, ran it up until it was sold in the late 1960s. He died in 1969, shortly thereafter. He even went up to the mill on Saturdays and offered excursion rides. I have a lot of old photos of that train; it was his favorite, and he had been an engineer since the 1920s!

But my delight shot through the roof when Brian graciously responded to my request to send along some of his grandfather's photographs of Baldwin #101. The images he sent back are wonderful, and I am grateful for his willingness to allow me to add them to my Miller collection here. Of particular interest is the photograph of #101 loaded onto a flatcar for transport to the Illinois Railway Museum (see below). Thinking about my father's several visits to the mill in the early 1960s, there is every chance that he met and conversed with Mr. Rucker, whose biography in brief is included here, thanks to his grandson:

excerpt from Steam in the Sixties - Ron Ziel and George Foster / Brian Rucker collection

HawkinsRails thanks Brian Rucker for use of the images below from his personal collection


HawkinsRails thanks railfan Charles Johns Jr. for use of these switcher and mill photographs



October 2009

Pilgrimage 101

In the fall of 2009, my family traveled to Chicago to visit close friends. This being my first visit to Chicagoland by car, I insisted upon a day in the schedule to visit the impressive Illinois Railway Museum. For many years it has been goal of mine to see their fine collection, but in truth two Deep South pieces on the site drew me on a must-see pilgrimage: Columbus & Greenville #606 and T.R. Miller Mill Co. diminutive #101. The IRM is a massive museum, covering lots of ground, so it took me the better part of the morning to find the little engine. Turns out she's stored in two parts: Her boiler and running gear are inside one of the covered buildings, while her tender resides outside in a long cut of rusting steam parts. All in all, I found the engine in rough shape, but not beyond rebuilding. At least her boiler is protected from the weather. The engine is lettered for the Tuskegee Railroad, the other Alabama shortline to own and operate her. Out in Union, Illinois, far northwest of the city, she's a long way from the humid grounds of her Southland home. Still, after spending so much time with dad's 120 negatives, and hearing his several stories of seeing her run and meeting her people, it was good to meet this little Baldwin face to face.

This page was updated on 2015-09-26