Research: Tram & Railroad Database

Code: 213
Corporate Name: East Line & Red River Railroad Company
Folk Name:
Ownership: W. W. Harrison, President, of East Line & Red River in 1882.
Years of Operation:
Track Type:
Standard Gauge Wooden Rails
Track Length:
Locations Served: Jefferson to Daingerfield in 1876. Sulphur Springs by 1882. Louisiana state line in 1900. Marion
Counties of Operation:
Line Connections:
Track Information:
Tram Road Logging / Industrial Common Carrier Logging Camp
History: A consortium of Jefferson City business people financed and chartered the East Texas & Red River Railroad Company in March, 1871. This was a response to the building of Houston & Texas Central toward Dallas, of the International & Great Northern pushing from Hearne to Longview, and the thrust of the Texas & Pacific toward Dallas. These railroads threatened the economic position of Jefferson: it was the only freshwater port linking northeast Texas to the Red River, and the city served as a major hub of an extensive westward wagon-trade as far as Dallas and as far south as Crockett. The citizens of Jefferson had to build a railroad or perish economically. The intent, then, was to link Jefferson to the east with Shreveport and to the northwest with Greenville. Although St. Clair G. Reed notes that, by 1876, 124 miles had been constructed to Greenville, Marion County Deed of Trust records reveal that the road had reached only from Jefferson through Orr's Switch in northwestern Marion County to Daingerfield in 1877, a total of just more than thirty miles. Charles Zlatkovich makes the same error, for his figures draw often from Reed's work. Nonetheless, both Reed and Zlatkovich remain the experts on Texas railroad history. Jefferson, Avinger, Orr's Switch, Daingerfield, and other areas in northeast Texas boomed with the resultant growth in sawmills and transportation of lumber provided by the road. By 1882, the EL& RR connected Jefferson as far as Sulphur Springs in Hopkins County. The original narrow-gauge line was converted to standard gauge during the 1880s. Reed repeated a story that illustrates the early days of travel on the EL&RR: “When this train reached a speed of fifteen miles per hour the passengers insisted that the company was tempting Providence, and if by any chance the engineer had to blow the whistle at a Texas longhorn and it was on the upgrade, the engine would stall, as it did not have sufficient boiler pressure to pull the three freight cars and passenger coach up a hill and whistle at the same time.” St. Clair G. Reed believes that the Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railway Co. acquired the road in 1881. In fact, it became the property of the Sherman, Shreveport, & Southern in 1893. The SS&SRR had built from Jefferson to the Louisiana state line in 1900. The next year the railroad became part of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (the Katy). The line would later pass into the control of the Louisiana Railway & Navigation of Texas (1923), the Louisiana, Arkansas, & Texas (1930), and finally to the Louisiana & Arkansas (1939).