legacy page
New responsive screen layout coming soon!
Mississippi shortline

hawkinsrails.net / shortlines / msv

Mississippi & Skuna Valley Railroad

It had been the dream of the people in Pittsboro and the Northern section of the county that someday they would see the building of a railroad into that section. Along about 1921, it became known that the Butterfield interests would sell their holdings in Calhoun, and hope began to be revived as to the possibilities of a railroad being built out into our section in order to carry the timber. It will be remembered that this was in the days when the huge log trucks powered by gasoline and used over concrete roads were utterly unknown in our section. Much discussion was had between various citizens and firms seeking some plan to accomplish the result desired. Acting on instructions from an organization of Calhoun County business men, a meeting was arranged whereby representatives would go to Chicago and there meet with Mr. Markham, President of the Illinois Central Railroad, and seek to interest him and his railroad in the idea of building a short line of railroad either from Coffeeville or Bryant out to Pittsboro.

Made In Mississippi blog

The Mississippi & Skuna Valley operated shortline freight service from a connection with the Illinois Central (later Illinois Central Gulf) at Bruce Junction, Mississippi, (near Coffeeville) eastward to Bruce, 21 miles. Incorporated in June 1925, the line hauled hardwood products for the E. L. Bruce hardwood mille but was purchased by the Weyerhaeuser Company in 1973. The enginehouse was at Bruce. Patriot Rail purchased the line in 2010, but a 2008 bridge failure on connecting railroad (then Canadian National) forced an end to operations. In 2012 the right of way was donated to Calhoun and Yalobusha counties to become a walking trail.

Spotlight: Cab Ride with Mr. Miller

While railfanning on the MSV in June of 1970, I parked at a grade crossing to snap some photos of the passing 70 tonner. Unexpectedly, a scrap of paper fell down to the road from the cab window, asking "Do you want to ride to Coffeeville?  Get ahead and flag me."

Engineer George Miller became a fast friend, and from the cab I snapped numerous photos of the line as the 70-tonner worked its train over the Mississippi hills. I rode about 10 miles in the cab, while the brakeman drove my car back to town for me.

George Miller invited me to come back and visit the MSV again, and needless to say I took him up on the offer! On the second trip, I rode the entire length of the line in the cab. The MSV is hilly little railroad, and I will never forget the strange sensations in the cab with that long train behind us, stretched out over the hills. #3 would still be working hard even downhill, but then seemed to be pushed right up the next hill by the momentum of the train.

It was great to ride the entire line. When we finished up the run about 1:00pm, George invited me to his house for lunch. His wife fixed us a country plate lunch I'll never forget.

December 2015

If railroads ran on sentiment, they'd certainly carry on forever. Unfortunately, they run on tracks. And those tracks cross bridges. And when bridges wash out that sometimes means the end of a railroad. So it was for the Mississippi & Skuna Valley -- one of my father's favorite shortlines to visit. Having never seen the MSV in operation, I took advantage of a December day of travel through the Magnolia State to retrace the MSV from west to east. In the back of my mind I think I knew that the Skuna Valley was no longer in operation; I was not prepared to find the road entirely removed and the trackage completely salvaged. Other than a few rotting wooden bridge piers and a some rails still stuck in a few asphalt crossings, the pike that once hauled all that wood flooring has now gone the way of too many other Deep South shorts. Even a vistor to bustling little Bruce, not knowing any better about the railroad's history there, would today not suspect a thing in the way of all those switches and tracks that used to work the flooring mills. All gone. I had trouble even finding a spike in the weeds to stick in my pocket, a possible keepsake in honor of my old man's ride along this route with his friend Mr. Miller and his rambling 70 tonner.

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2015-12-07