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Columbus & Greenville Railway
In the spring of 1917, agents of the Interstate Commerce Commission travelled the Southern Railway in Mississippi (precursor to the C&G) from end to end. Going town to town on nothing more than a small 2-axle gasoline motorcar, the agents took pictures of almost every structure along the line. This Mississippi tour was part of a larger ICC effort of the time to evaluate the state of the nation's railroads. These inspection images are indicated below by the notation "1917 inspection," and we are grateful to be able to have in our C&G collection copies of these historic prints.
Company letterhead in the post-ICG era of the Columbus & Greenville boasted that the little road offered "unparalleled service from the Delta to the hills." In terms of geographical competition, at least, that statement remained accurate throughout its corporate history.
Contributing to its eccentricity, the C&G lived its entire life as an east-west shortline in a north-south mainline world. Including its namesake terminals, the Delta Route crossed other, bigger railroads eight times in its 170-mile trek from the vicinity of Alabama in the east to the mighty Mississippi River in the west. Before the era of Class 1 consolidations, these numerous diamonds in the line represted a rich variety of Deep South railroads -- Southern, the Frisco, Mobile & Ohio, Gulf Mobile & Northern, Illinois Central, Yazoo & Mississippi Valley and the like.
In terms of physical profile, the C&G climbed 255' in elevation over 45 miles as it moved westward from the foothills of the Tombigbee River basin near Columbus. From Mathiston through Eupora and on to Winona, the right-of-way plied the highest points on the line--the highest, still a mere 447' feet above sea level. After Winona, the line come down from the hills to the banks of the Big Sand Creek and Greenwood, dropping some 307' in 30 miles. From Greenwood to Greenville, the Delta Route profile lived up to its nickname--traveling 55 miles over the flat Delta lands with little rise and fall along the way.
See our Columbus page for the entire gallery.
Waverly depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Moving westward from Columbus along the railroad, the town of West Point was the first major community after the Tombigbee River and the first interchange point en route. Here the C&G met the Mobile & Ohio mainline (later GM&O) and an Illinois Central secondary route between Kosciusko and Aberdeen. Prior to 1980, C&G trains leaving Columbus approached West Point directly from the east. But the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway project put an end to the railroad's use of the bridge over the Tombigbee. After the bridge was decommissioned, C&G movements detoured through Artesia then northward to West Point on the old M&O main. The depot in West Point, built by the Southern Rwy in Mississippi, was demolished by the ICG in the early 1970s.
Cedar Bluff depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Pheba depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Maben depot / 1917 inspection / collection
In the summer of 1989, Ralph and I were on U.S. 82 following the C&G between West Point and Eupora, and I remarked to Ralph that Charles Lindbergh, in his book We, related how he ran out of gas in his "Jenny" biplane and landed in a field somewhere near our location. He was lost, but had been following the C&G mainline. He managed to land in a field near the railroad, but damaged his propellor and was forced to spend a week in nearby Maben until he could get a replacement prop. Ralph shrugged off my remark as mere trivia. Just then we crested a hill and saw a historical marker up ahead. We stopped, and it told about that particular incident. Needless to say, I crowed about that sign for a long time. The spot very likely looked then like it had back in 1927 when it happened.
In the early years of the C&G, Mathiston, Mississippi was the Delta Route's only connection to the Gulf, Mobile & Northern railroad. The GM&N mainline stretched north-south from Mobile on the coast to Jackson, Tennessee and finally Paducah, Kentucky, crossing the C&G nearly 50 miles west of Columbus. The interchange featured an impressive wooden interlocking tower, but after the formation of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio in 1940, the Mathiston crossing become redundant alongside former M&O junction at West Point. In the Illinois Central Gulf era, the former GM&O mainline was downgraded to a segmented branchline and the Mathiston interchange was removed.
Mathiston depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Interlocking tower / 1917 inspection
Eupora freight house / 1917 inspection
Eupora depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Train #11 / 1944 / Witbeck photo / collection
Eupora depot / Jul 1989 / RWH
Looking east from CF7 #810 cab / Dec 1989 / RWH
Depot, team track side / Jul 1989 / JCH
Looking east from depot / Jul 1989 / JCH
Tomnolen depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Stewart depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Kilmichael depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Just one mile shy of being the halfway point on the C&G, the town of Winona, Mississippi, in Montgomery County, was for decades a major interchange point with the Illinois Central Railroad. The IC mainline from Jackson to Memphis crossed the Delta Route here, and in the early steam era the IC maintained a handsome wooden interlocking tower and a water plug. At 359' above sea level, Winona was the last town westward before the C&G made its moderate descent to the Mississippi Delta. Greenwood, the next community westbound of any size, sits at 127' in elevation. Winona was the site of summertime accident in 1946. Mixed train #109 and Mikado #506 picked a switch that had been left open in the small yard area. The train lurched down the spur at track speed, with the large Mike plowing off the end of the siding. The veteran engineer was killed in the wreckage.
Illinois Central depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Illinois Central depot / Jul 1989 / JCH
Interlocking tower / 1917 inspection
Looking west on CAGY at crossing / Jul 1989 / JCH
Winona section house / 1917 inspection / collection
Looking east at crossing / Dec 1989 / RWH
Interchange track / Jul 1989 / JCH
Looking south down IC mainline / Jul 1989 / JCH
McCarley depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Situated along the Big Sand Creek almost 100 miles from Columbus, the community of Carrollton, Mississippi boasted a handsome Southern Rwy in Mississippi station and freight house fashioned with bricks and morter -- in contrast to the numerous diminutive wooden depots that dotted the mainline. In 1912, in the Sou Rwy era, train #51 with two locomotives and numerous cars struck a gathering of cattle and left a pile of wreckage and three crewman deaths in its wake.
Carrollton depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Looking east / Dec 1989 / RWH
Excursion extra paused in town / Dec 1989 / JCH
Malmaison depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Situated near the Tallahatchie River, Greenwood, Mississippi was the location for the C&G's second primary interchange with the Illinois Central, this time crossing the more western (through Yazoo City) of the two Jackson-Memphis mainlines. In the passenger era, both railroads maintained a passenger station in town and both structures are still standing. The ex Illinois Central depot remains active today (although without an agent), a flag stop for Amtrak's City of New Orleans. Currently, Greenwood is the eastern terminus of the remaining C&G operations on the Delta end of the line, making it the major interchange point with the Canadian National. The line east of Greenwood has been mothballed due to decreased traffic and deteriorating track and bridge conditions.
Greenwood depot, looking west / c. 1970 / JCH
Former C&G depot / July 1989 / JCH
Greenwood yard office / July 1989 / RWH
Illinois Central depot / July 1989 / RWH
Looking east across diamond / Jul 1989 / RWH
ICG rebuilds near diamond / Jul 1989 / RWH
Looking west across diamond / Jul 1989 / RWH
View of interchange track / 1989 / RWH
Greenwood Municipal Generating Station / JCH
Excursion extra in Greenwood / Dec 1989 / JCH
The north-south line that crossed the C&G at Moorhead, Mississippi was originally constructed by the Yazoo Delta Railway, incorporated in 1895. Among turn-of-the-century Sunflower County locals, the little pike was referred to as the "Yellow Dog" -- a play on the "Y. D." initials on the Yazoo Delta equipment. Five years after incorporation, the Yellow Dog was purchased by the larger Yazoo & Mississippi Valley. Fifteen years later, having travelled through the Mississippi Delta, W. C. Handy published a song entitled "The Yellow Dog Rag," noting that "he's gone where the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog." "Southern" here refers to the Southern Rwy in Mississippi, parent to the C&G. The depot at the Moorhead interchange lasted until 1957.
Paul Moon drawing / 1976 / collection
Moorhead depot / 1917 inspection / collection
"Yellow Dog" historical marker / 1972 / JCH
John at the "Yellow Dog" marker / Jul 1989 / RWH
Looking west to crossing / Jul 1989 / JCH
Looking east across crossing / Jul 1989 / JCH
Looking north up Y&MV mainline / Jul 1989 / JCH
Ralph with historical marker / Jul 1989 / JCH
Restaurant near mainline / Jul 1989 / RWH
Mileage marker at Moorhead / Jul 1989 / RWH
Baird depot / 1917 inspection / collection
Stoneville depot / 1917 inspection / collection
See our Greenville page for the entire gallery.
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