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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.

See also our complete T. R. Miller Mill Industrial collection for many more images

Baldwin #101 could easily fit the definition of "classic shortline steam locomotive" -- handsome, nimble, and at home with the slow pace of shunting industrial rolling stock in Alabama. My father recalls meeting the kindly black gentleman who was 101's fireman at the mill. Everyone on the property called him "Blue". As dad took the handful of pictures of #101 shown here, the engineer offhandedly commented that many a railfan had snapped a photo of Blue with the steamer and then promised to send him a photo ... but then never did. Dad snapped the pose with a proud Blue (above, right), and upon returning home to Pensacola he promptly mailed the good fellow a copy.

Dad has always noted how he likes to imagine this photo
sitting framed on a mantle piece in old Blue's modest Alabama home.


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 boilder 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.