Mobile and Ohio Railroad

Mobile and Ohio Railroad

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The Mobile and Ohio Railroad was a railroad in the Southern U.S. The M&O was chartered in January and February 1848 by the states of Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. It was planned to span the distance between the seaport of Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

 and the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 near Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, Illinois
Cairo is the southernmost city in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the county seat of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The rivers converge at Fort Defiance State Park, an American Civil War fort that was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant...

. On September 13, 1940, it was merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad was a railroad in the Southern United States. The first World War had forced government operation upon the company; and in 1919, when it became once more a free agent, it chose Ike Tigrett to charter its new course...

 to form the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Ohio was a Class I railroad in the central United States whose primary routes extended from Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to St...

.

History


The Mobile and Ohio Railroad was conceived after hard times in Mobile following the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

. The port was no longer generating the business that it had before the panic and businessmen and citizens in the city were inspired with a plan for a railroad to restore commerce to the city. The first section of track opened for service in 1852 between Mobile and Citronelle, Alabama
Citronelle, Alabama
Citronelle is a city in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 3,659. It is included in the Mobile metropolitan statistical area.-History:This was long part of the territory of thousands of years of indigenous peoples...

. The line made it to Columbus, Kentucky
Columbus, Kentucky
Columbus is a city in Hickman County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 229 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Columbus is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

 on April 22, 1861, steamboats were then used to connect with the Illinois Central Railroad
Illinois Central Railroad
The Illinois Central Railroad , sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, is a railroad in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois with New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama. A line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa...

 at Cairo.

The occurrence of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 shortly after the completion of the line saw it converted to military use and it quickly became a military target for both sides during the war. Following the conflict the M&O had to be almost entirely rebuilt and was facing near total financial ruin due in part to an unpaid debt of $5,228,562 that had been owed by the Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 government. It was placed in receivership in 1875 and did not emerge until eight years later. By 1870, the operators had seen the need to complete the line all the way to Cairo and make it the northern terminus instead of Columbus, but financial problems stood in the way. Finally, on May 1, 1882, the new line extension to Cairo was opened. The company then acquired the St. Louis and Cairo Railroad, which was narrow gauge. They then converted it to standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 and had a line running from Mobile to St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

.

In 1896 the company decided to build a line from its Columbus, Mississippi
Columbus, Mississippi
Columbus is a city in Lowndes County, Mississippi, United States that lies above the Tombigbee River. It is approximately northeast of Jackson, north of Meridian, south of Tupelo, northwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and west of Birmingham, Alabama. The population was 25,944 at the 2000 census...

 terminal toward Florida. On June 30, 1898 the Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

 to Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

 line opened, along with two short branch lines. That same year they decided to build a 39 miles (62.8 km) line from Mobile to Alabama Port and Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Bayou La Batre is a town in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. It is included in the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. At the 2000 census, the population was 2,313. According to the 2005 U.S. Census estimates, the city had a population of 2,725....

, naming it the Mobile and Bay Shore Railway. It was completed in 1899.

The M&O's stockholders and bondholders accepted a stock exchange
Stock exchange
A stock exchange is an entity that provides services for stock brokers and traders to trade stocks, bonds, and other securities. Stock exchanges also provide facilities for issue and redemption of securities and other financial instruments, and capital events including the payment of income and...

 plan in 1901 from Southern Railway. A merger of the two was attempted in 1902 but vetoed by Mississippi governor James K. Vardaman
James K. Vardaman
James Kimble Vardaman was an American politician from the state of Mississippi, serving as Governor of Mississippi from 1904 to 1908 and in the U.S. Senate from 1913 to 1919. Vardaman, known as "The Great White Chief", advocated white supremacy...

. Thereafter the M&O continued operations under Southern's control. From 1908 the M&O was considered to be a highly prosperous railroad, but net income declined sharply after 1926 and by 1930 the M&O had a net deficit of almost $1,000,000. On June 3, 1932, the M&O went into the receivership yet again. Southern was accused of having violated the Clayton Antitrust Act
Clayton Antitrust Act
The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 , was enacted in the United States to add further substance to the U.S. antitrust law regime by seeking to prevent anticompetitive practices in their incipiency. That regime started with the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the first Federal law outlawing practices...

 by using the M&O for its own profit at the expense of the M&O, though the case was dropped in 1933. Southern sold its M&O bonds in 1940 to the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad was a railroad in the Southern United States. The first World War had forced government operation upon the company; and in 1919, when it became once more a free agent, it chose Ike Tigrett to charter its new course...

. The GM&N was then combined with the M&O to form the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
The Gulf, Mobile and Ohio was a Class I railroad in the central United States whose primary routes extended from Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to St...

.

See also

  • List of defunct Alabama railroads
  • List of defunct Illinois railroads
  • List of defunct Kentucky railroads
  • List of defunct Mississippi railroads
  • List of defunct Missouri railroads
  • List of defunct Tennessee railroads