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Mississippian Railway

The Route of the Bentonite Baldwins

While legally owned by the Itawamba County Port, the railroad is wholly funded and operated through the Mississippian Railway Cooperative, a third-party nonprofit group created in the 1980s to oversee its operations. Although not as active as it once was, the railroad is still used regularly by three local companies: Tri-State Lumber, Mueller Brass and Ferguson Enterprises. Additionally, several out-of-county customers use the railroad to unload shipments at Itawamba County Port on a semi-regular basis.

The Itawamba County Times, 2014

Mississippi shortline

The 24-mile Mississippian Railway was often dubbed the "Bentonite Road," named for the clay bonding material produced by a bentonite plant in Smithville built in 1944 that generated much of the line's traffic in the 1950s and 60s. The Mississippian was built in 1924 for hauling lumber products from Fulton, Mississippi, south to a connection with the Frisco Railway at Amory. For decades, the pike relied on a pair of ex-Frisco Baldwin steamers for motive power -- both of which survive today in museum and tourist hauling service. In the 1986 the road was sold to the Itawamba County Development Council, which transferred operation over to the Mississippian Railway Cooperative -- a non-profit entity directly representing industries that relied on the railroad to transport their products. Today interchange is made at Amory with Frisco and Burlington Northern successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe.


route map / from Mississippi Rails

Steam Locomotives

See also our Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern shortline collection for more Baldwin #76 photos