sc_state The little road was incorporated in Alabama in July of 1904 to acquire the railroad of the Allison Lumber Company, extending from Lilita to Whitfield, AL, and to construct and operate a railroad from Bellamy in a southerly direction to Steiner. There was interchange with the Southern Railway at Lilita, Alabama. The country traversed from Lilita to Choctaw City was rolling and the longest trestle on the line was 1,500 feet. The line was built primarily to serve the parent Allison Lumber Company. In addition to freight service to the lumber mills, passengers, mail, and express were hauled. The mill operated a pair of handsome Baldwin steamers as late as the early 1960s. Remarkably, both locomotives exist today in storge in two different railroad museums in the north. The SC also operated a small motorcar when passenger service was provided.


sc103_inset Reincarnation of a Southland short line engine added much to the total of the afficionado's happiness when Middletown & New Jersey, a tourist line, rehabilitated Sumter & Choctaw's 2-6-2 #103 which thereby was spared from accumulating more rust and vines at its storage track at the Bellamy, Alabama, yards of American Can Company. Jersey rejuvenators thoughtfully included floppy white extra flags, once in vogue for unscheduled runs.

John Krause, Rails Through Dixie, 1965

Steam Motive Power

Sumter & Choctaw #102

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:2-8-2 Mikado
  • built:Apr 1924, Baldwin #57778
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • 17x24" cylinders, 44" drivers
  • new to Allison Lumber Co. for $23,330
    Baldwin class 12-28 1/4 E 26
    retired 1962 with cracked boiler
    to National Railway Museum, Wisconsin
  • Sumter & Choctaw #103

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:2-6-2 Prairie
  • built:Nov 1925, Baldwin #58754
  • fuel:wood or coal / water
  • notes:
  • 15x20" cylinders, 44" drivers
  • new to Allison Lumber Co. for $16,900
    Baldwin class 10-24 1/4 D 160
    to Empire State Rwy Museum,1962
    to Valley Railroad, 1970
    to Railway Museum of New England
  • tag_quote

    103 Leaves Essex for a New Home

    Howard Pincus | Railway Preservation News | 2009

    sc103_move1After spending the last 38 years at the Valley Railroad in Essex, Connecticut, steam locomotive #103 moved to its new home on Thursday June 25. At 9:15 pm that evening, 103 touched down on the rails of the Naugatuck Railroad in Waterville, Connecticut. The "Naugy" is the operating heritage railroad of the Railroad Museum of New England (RMNE).

    For many years, 103 was at the head of the "display track" at Essex, with some older freight cars behind her. She would be in this spot for another two weeks, before preparations for moving started. June 4, 2009 photo. 103 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in November 1925, for the Sumter & Choctaw Railroad, a small logging railway in northern Alabama. It has a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement. The engine worked there for over 30 years, and was sold in 1962 to the Empire State Railway Museum of Middletown, NY. 103 operated at Middletown until late 1966, and was moved to the new Valley Railroad at Essex in early 1971. As the crews worked to get ready for the Valley’s opening day in the summer of 1971, 103 was readied for her role as the first steam locomotive of the new railroad. After a midnight test run (the first operation of 103 at VRR), 103 triumphantly pulled the first 3-car VRR train into the Essex depot on the morning of July 29, 1971 - 100 years to the day of the first run on that very line.

    In 1972 and early 73, 103 had to work harder to move the 4 and then 5 car trains needed to carry the growing passenger load, and work commenced on a larger steam locomotive at Essex, 2-8-0 #97. First steamed up in March 1973, 97 entered regular service that summer and quickly replaced little 103. 103 last operated in 1975, and had been on display at Essex ever since.

    sc103_move2Ownership of 103 was transferred in 1986 by Empire State to the Railroad Museum of New England. RMNE started operation of the Naugatuck Railroad in 1996 and has been transferring RMNE locomotives and cars from VRR to the Naugy. For the last 8 or 9 years, an RMNE crew has gone to Essex annually, to oil and grease 103's moving parts. The move of 103 was done under the supervision of Bob Eberheim, an RMNE member who has decades of professional rigging and heavy hauling experience. Bob coordinated the cranes and the heavy-haul tractor-trailers that loaded, moved and unloaded 103. Starting the loading process in the Essex station parking lot at 3 pm, 103 and tender were loaded and ready to go at 4:30 pm, and they rolled out of Essex for the last time.

    Railway Preservation News

    Diesel Motive Power

    Rolling Stock



    sc103_journal My father has fond memories of visiting the still-operating little Sumter & Choctaw in 1960. How could he not, with two operating small Baldwins and a retired motocar on the property? Though I missed the SC by two decades, I've enjoyed making scans of these terrific photographs. The black and white 120 negatives of #102 produced great results, and even though dad's color postcard camera obviously has some light leaks in 1960 when he snapped the color photos of #103, they still make for nice postcard prints in the end.

    September 2010

    In September of 2010, I received a terrific note from two brothers who found HawkinsRails:

    In researching the Allison Lumber Company in Bellamy, AL, I came across your website. My grandfather M.C. was a customer of the sawmill and visited there many times. He had two photographs he very much prized, and the one I’ve attached is of a White Motorcar (probably 1915-1918), which the lumber company built to use to transport guests. I thought you might like to have it for your collection. We greatly admire the time and effort you have put into your website, and commend you for putting all of this together for so many to enjoy for generations to come. Thank you! S.C.

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2015-10-31