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Louisiana's Logging Railroads, A History


Last revised: April 16, 2023

By: Adam Burns

It is quite surprising that there were so many Louisiana logging railroads for a two reasons: first, that the southeast is not generally thought of as an important timber region; and second, that railroads could be laid in an area so rich with swampland.

Despite this there were dozens and dozens of logging railroads dotting the state during the early 20th century.

The earliest of Louisiana's lines dated back to the 1890s while remained in use for only 30 or so years and were gone by the early 1930s due to both the Great Depression and the fact that trucks were then reliable enough to be used in heavy industrial applications.

The overall operations in Louisiana were about one would expect of logging railroads; crudely built track and that was a few miles in length serving a local mill and interchange point with a main line system.

Interestingly, most of Louisiana's logging lines were built to standard-gauge although a few were various narrow-gauge operations (36 or 42 inch).

Red River & Rocky Mount Railway

The Red River & Rocky Mount Railway was chartered in May, 1904 by the Antrim Lumber Company.

During peak operations the railroad utilized about 14 miles of track with the sawmill located at Antrim, which was also the location of an interchange with the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt).

It was a standard gauged line and had a fleet of four locomotives. The railroad was abandoned by 1913.

Natchez, Ball & Shreveport Railway/Big Creek Railroad

These logging lines were owned by the Ball & Brother Lumber Company.

They began operations in the early 1900s and at their peak operated about 40 miles of trackage, which served two mills (one at Pollock and the other at Ball, both of which were located at interchanges with the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway a Missouri Pacific subsidiary) and a vast acreage of virgin timber.

The railroads had a total fleet of 4 locomotives and remained in use until about 1913.

Bernice & Northwestern Railway

The Bernice & Northwestern Railway was owned by the Bernice Lumber Company and originally chartered in 1902.

It was a standard-gauge line that began from a connection at Bernice, Louisiana with the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Railroad (the Rock Island) and reached Summerfield, 15 miles away.

From this point the company owned about nine miles of logging spurs to haul timber back to the mill at Bernice.

Black Bayou Railroad

The Black Bayou Railroad was owned by the lumber company of the same name and incorporated in 1904. The financial panic of 1907 resulted in the property being purchased by the Southern Lumber Company that year.

Overall, the railroad owned some seven miles of track, starting from a connection with the Kansas City Southern at Myrtistown and heading west to the Texas state line.

From this point the railroad operated about eight miles of logging branches and hauled the timber to the company mill about half-way along its main line. The logging railroad remained in use until about 1925.

Oakdale & Gulf Railway

The Oakdale & Gulf Railway was incorporated in February, 1916 as a line that primarily served the interests of the Bowman-Hicks and Forest lumber companies.

It operated from a connection with the Missouri Pacific at Oakdale and ran nearly 12 miles to Ward where another connection with the MP was located.

The O&G served the lumber mills of Forest and Bowman-Hicks at Oakdale and also another mill at Wards owned by the Rice interests.

Additionally, it served the Independent Naval Stores Company near Adams. The logging line was a short-lived affair and operations were abandoned by November, 1927.

Kentwood & Eastern Railway

The Kentwood & Eastern Railway was incorporated in 1905 and owned by the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company. It operated a three-foot narrow-gauge line and at its peak owned around 35 miles of track.

The railroad had a connection with the Illinois Central at Kentwood where the company's mill was also located. Much of its trackage was used simply to tap nearby timber reserves.

Louisiana & Pacific Railway

The Louisiana & Pacific Railway was a complicated logging line that primarily was owned by the Calcasieu Long Leaf Lumber Company.

It was chartered on June 6, 1904 and built to standard gauge. At its peak the system operated well over 130 miles of track reaching such towns as De Ridder, Lake Charles, Bundicks, Lilly Junction, Walla, Longville, Fayette, and other small lumber camps.

Early on the company sold about 44 miles of track to the Southern Pacific which renamed the line as the Lake Charles & Northern Railroad.

This left the L&P with five disconnected branches all of which interchanged with the LC&N and the railroad was able to acquire trackage rights over much of the line to serve the numerous mills along its properties. Additionally, the company had interchanges with the Santa Fe, Frisco, and Kansas City Southern.

Central Coal & Coke Company

The Central Coal & Coke Company operated its own railroad beginning in 1897 to serve its mills in Neame and Carson, Louisiana.

In 1902 it created the Missouri & Louisiana Railroad to serve its timber reserves in southern Missouri and the line also connected to its Louisiana property.

In September, 1914 the Central Coal & Coke changed its name as the Neame, Carson & Southern Railroad and created a separate company for its timber operations, the Delta Land & Timber Company.

The NC&S operated about 81 miles of track while the M&L operated another 44 or so miles, all of which was standard gauge. In 1925 a major mill was destroyed by fire in Neame and by November, 1926 the entire property and operations were abandoned.

Red River & Gulf Railroad

The Red River & Gulf Railroad was owned by the Crowell & Spencer Lumber Company and its history dated as far back as 1892.

It was a standard gauge line radiating from Long Leaf Junction (where there was a connection with the Missouri Pacific) in three directions.

It reached such communities as Forest Hill, Holdup, Togo, LeCompte, Louisiana Junction, Audebert, Cocodrie, Causey, Big Cut, Melder, Bliss, Elmelhine, Lewiston, Walding, Stille, Hood, Comrade, Mathis, Hutton, Alco, Dusenbury, and Kurthwood.

The primary mill was located in Long Leaf while a secondary mill was located in Meridian where the railroad also had a connection with the Rock Island. The RR&G remained in use until the early 1940s.

Mansfield Railway & Transportation Company

This railroad dated back to 1881 when the town of Mansfield, Louisiana built a small two-mile railroad to connect with the Texas & Pacific Railway at Mansfield Junction.

In 1905 the railroad was purchased by the DeSoto Land & Lumber Company, which constructed a mill at nearby Oak Hill and a large tract of timber.

The company extended the railroad about eight miles to reach these reserves and at its peak stretched 16 miles to the logging camp of Hunter.

The railroad and logging operation were later purchased by the Frost-Johnson Lumber Company. Interestingly, the Mansfield Railway was unique in that it did not actually transfer the cut logs directly to the mill but did so via the Kansas City Southern Railway.

Bodcaw Valley Railway

The Bodcaw Valley Railway was chartered in 1904 and owned by the Frost-Johnson Lumber Company. The history of the property dated back to ownership under the Whited & Wheless Lumber Company until Frost-Johnson purchased the property.

In any event, the railroad, built to three-foot narrow-gauge, operated from a connection with the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) at Alden Bridge and extended 24 miles eastward to tap nearby timber reserves.

Log loads were transferred to the Cotton Belt, which then hauled them the short distance to the company mill. The railroad remained in use until about the mid-1920s.

Sibley, Lake Bisteneau & Southern Railway

This railroad was originally built by the Long-Bell Lumber Company in 1899. At its peak it connected Yellow Pine, where the company mill was located with Sibley where it interchanged with main line railroads.

A standard-gauge operation the SLB&S operated about 30 miles of track and owned a fleet of six locomotives. Along with its logging operations the railroad also provided some mixed freight and passenger services. In 1942 the railroad and entire timber operation was abandoned after reserves played out.

Monroe & Southwestern Railway

The Monroe & Southwestern Railway was owned by the Grayling Lumber Company and chartered in 1904 to tap its timber reserves located on the west bank of the Ouachita River.

To reach the company mill at Monroe the railroad transferred its loads of logs to the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway (Missouri Pacific), which carried them the short distance to the mill.

Overall, the standard-gauged railroad operated about 10 miles of main line trackage and owned a fleet of four locomotives.

New Orleans Great Northern Railroad

The New Orleans Great Northern Railroad, famously remembered as the Nogan, was incorporated in early January, 1905 and owned by the Great Southern Lumber Company.

The entire timber operation was well funded and the railroad served the company mill at Bogalusa, Louisiana. It was built to standard gauge and was quite large for being predominantly a logging railroad, operating some 70 miles of track.

By the early 1930s the line was in financial trouble given that much of the area's timber had been depleted. By July, 1933 the railroad was sold to the Gulf, Mobile & Northern.

Gulf & Sabine River Railroad

The G&SR was chartered in 1906 and was owned by the Gulf Lumber Company.

It operated two primary branches; one at Stables connected with the KCS and extended about 16 miles altogether to reach nearby by timber reserves while another operated between Nitram (and a connection with the AT&SF) and Fullerton covering about 10 miles.

Between the two branches and additional logging spurs the G&SR operated about 40 miles of track.

Alexandria & Western Railway

The A&W was chartered in 1909 and owned by the Bayou Rapides Lumber Company. At its peak the railroad was just under 5 miles in length and operated between Alexandria and Gardner, Louisiana.

Actual service of the railroad started in 1914 but it was a short-lived operation. After being sued the entire operation was abandoned by 1925.

North Louisiana & Gulf Railroad

The NL&G was owned by the Huie-Hodge Lumber Company and officially incorporated in late January, 1906.

Originally, the railroad operated about 14 miles of two unconnected branches; a 10-mile section between Hodge (where it interchanged with the Rock and the town was also the location of the company mill) and Danville as well as a 4-mile section between Bienville and Walsh.

However, after taking over the latter branch in 1909 the NL&G went on to complete a 16-mile new section of railroad to link both lines, opening in the route in 1911.

After 1916 the NL&G's original charter expired and the railroad was eventually reincorporated in 1927 under the same name. Interestingly, it remained a viable short line until the late 1970s continuing to carry pulpwood to the paper mill at Hodge.

Kentwood, Greensburg & South Western Railroad

The KG&SW was owned by the Kent Lumber & Brick Company and was first chartered in early February, 1905. It was a narrow-gauge line and originally operated about 22 miles of track from Kentwood (where the company mill was located) to Nettles.

A few years after opening the operation was purchased by the Natalbany Lumber Company and extended an additional five miles to reach more timber reserves. In the spring of 1921 the mill caught fire and by that summer operations were suspended.

Arkansas & Gulf Railroad

The Arkansas & Gulf was a very crude operation, originally chartered in 1905 and owned by the Kimball Lumber & Manufacturing Company.

The railroad was just a short operation, extending from Kimball, Arkansas (where the mill was located along with an interchange with the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern/Missouri Pacific) to Laark, Louisiana.

Overall, it was only seven miles in length although in all it owned about 17 miles of lines, including logging spurs and sidings.

Tioga & Southeastern Railway

The Tioga & Southeastern Railway was controlled by the Lee Lumber Company who incorporated the line in 1905 to serve its logging operation around Tioga, Louisiana where the mill was located (and there was also a connection with the StLIM&S).

The history of the operation dated back to the Louis Werner Sawmill Company who had already built 10 miles of railroad around Tioga.

At the T&S's height it operated a system of about 15 miles of main line trackage between Tioga and Violet, as well as additional logging spurs (all of which were standard-gauge). The railroad remained in use until about the mid-1920s.

Mill Creek & Little River Railway

This logging line was owned by the Little River Lumber Company and was incorporated in 1905. It was a very small operation, although it was built to standard gauge, and hauled logs on a three mile main line to Manistee, Louisiana where the mill was located.

It's connection to the national network was via the StLIM&S and along with its main line the railroad operated several miles of logging spurs.

Woodworth & Louisiana Central Railway

The W&LC was chartered in 1900 and owned by the Rapides Lumber Company to serve its mill at Woodworth, Louisiana. The location also included an interchange to the StLIM&S.

The railroad also extended six miles to La Moria where additional connections were located with the Rock Island, Southern Pacific, and Texas & Pacific (MP).

The W&LC was a combination of both narrow-gauge and standard-gauge lines and operated, in total, about 24 miles of main line and several additional miles of logging spurs.

Victoria, Fisher & Western Railroad

The VF&W was owned by the Louisiana Long Leaf Lumber Company and initially incorporated in November, 1902. It was a rather large logging line, operating 31 main line miles between Victoria (and a connection with the T&P) and Cain. Including logging spurs the railroad operated about 60 miles of track.

The VF&W both hauled logs from the timber reserves as well as finished timber to interchange points. The lumber company operated two mills during peak operations, one at Victoria and the other at Fisher.

Christie & Eastern Railway

This logging line was owned by the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company and was a late operation for the industry, as it was not officially incorporated until February, 1917.

It was a standard gauge railroad that operated between Sandel to Peason; the former town held an interchange with the Kansas City Southern while the latter was home to the company mill.

Overall, the C&E was just over 10 miles in length. By February, 1934 the timber reserve had been depleted and the mill closed. As a result, by that June rail operations were abandoned as well.

Louisiana Central Railroad

The Louisiana Central Railroad was owned by the Pickering Land & Timber Company and officially incorporated in 1905.

The railroad operated two branch lines that were not connected:

  • The first extended from a connection with the KCS at Barham (where the mill was also located) to Bayou Toro, nearly 10 miles away (this line also operated about 10 miles of logging spurs).

  • The second branch operated between Pickering (where an additional connection with the KCS was located) and Cravens where another interchange was located with the Santa Fe.

This line also hosted two online mills. Altogether, the LC operated about 75 miles of track (including all spurs) and was entirely standard gauge.

Dorcheat Valley Railroad

This little logging line was just six miles in length from Cotton Valley to Gleason.

Owned by the Porter-Wadley Lumber Company and chartered in 1905 the railroad hauled logs to the mill near Cotton Valley where there was also a connection with the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway.

Overall the logging railroad owned a total of 26 miles of track, including spurs.  For additional information about Louisiana logging railroads please click here.

Dorcheat Valley Railroad

The Zwolle & Eastern Railway was owned by the Sabine Lumber Company, who initially did not feel the need for a railroad to serve its needs when it first opened in 1899.

The railroad was incorporated in 1904 and built to standard gauge, eventually completing a 14-mile main line connecting Zwolle with Blue Lake.

The line connected with the KCS near Zwolle while the mill itself was located at nearby Gibson. The logs were hauled from the lumber camp of Blue Lake, previously mentioned.

Roosevelt & Western Railroad

The R&W was a logging line primarily owned by the J. B. Schuh Lumber Company. The railroad was chartered in 1909 and operated from a connection with the StLIM&S at Roosevelt, eight miles away to nearby timber reserves.

The online mill was situated near Roosevelt at a location known as Lynchville. 


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