Research: Tram & Railroad Database

Code: 6
Corporate Name: Beaumont & Great Northern Railroad (the Onalaska and Northwestern Railroad)
Folk Name:
Ownership: Carlisle-Pennel Company, later the Carlisle-West Lumber Company
Years of Operation: 1905 to 1961
Track Type:
Standard Gauge Wooden Rails
Track Length: 48
Locations Served: Onalaska (Polk)
Counties of Operation: Trinity, Polk, Houston.
Line Connections: 1907: Houston East & West Texas at Livingston. The T & NO leased the HEWT in 1927.
Track Information:
Tram Road Logging / Industrial Common Carrier Logging Camp
Equipment: 1909: four Shay engines, seventy-five logging cars, two American log loaders, one commissary car, one tank car, three flat cars, two wood cars, one officer car, about forty-five mules and horses, and seven house cars. Keeling: five and four rod locomotives Keeling: under West Lumberfifteen miles, nine geared locomotives, thirteen rod locomotives on both narrow gauge and standard gauge tracks
History: William Carlisle and J. C. Pennel were lumber magnates in Polk County during the first decade of the twentieth century. Their company owned at least 140,000 acres of stumpage and had sawmills at Livingston and Onalaska. By 1908, the combined cut of the mills approached 300,000 feet daily. William Carlisle, forseeing the need to move lumber traffic, chartered, on June 22, 1905, the Beaumont & Great Northern Railroad, to construct a rail line from Trinity to Beaumont. C. J. Rogan superintended six Mexican crews constructing the road. By 1907, the line had been constructed from Trinity, with connections to the International & Great Northern, for a distance of thirty-three miles to Livingston, where it connected with the Texas & New Orleans. This railway passed through the sawmill sites of Pagoda, Sebastapol, Fitzvann, Luce, Carlisle, Pennell, Onalaksa, Kickapoo, Blanchard, Vreeland, and East Tempe. W. S. Brame recalled, according to Maxwell, “that much of the logging was done by tram roads and skidders west of Livingston whereas oxen and mules were principally used in the lowlands East of Livingston.” In 1906, seven miles had been constructed, according to the American Lumberman, with another thirty in the making. L. O. Jackson was the vice president and purchasing agent for the road. His rolling stock at that time included one locomotive and thirty-seven cars. The shortline was sold to Colonel R. C. Duff, a leading lawyer in Texas, who envisioned a railroad from Waco to Beaumont via Port Arthur. In 1908, he bought out Carlisle's interest in the Beaumont & Great Northern. Ensuing financial difficulties forced him to persuade Carlisle to buy the road back. James West bought into the operations in 1909. The sale deed from Carlisle to West in 1909 identified the company tram as the Onalaska & Northwestern Railroad. According to Zlatkovich and Reed, the company name officially remained the Beaumont & Northwestern. West received from Carlisle the following logging tram equipment: four Shay engines, seventy-five logging cars, two American log loaders, one commissary car, one tank car, three flat cars, two wood cars, one officer car, about forty-five mules and horses, and seven house cars. The inference of the rolling and animal stock is that skidding was done with animals, but loading was a steam-operated and self-propelled manuever. Additionally, part of the housing and logistics on the Front possessed mobility as indicated by the presence of the commissary and house cars. Carlisle built another fifteen miles of track, from Trinity to Weldson. By 1912, the depressed timber market caused Carlisle to default on his bonds. Duff persuaded Carlisle to sell the Beaumont & Great Northern back to him for $780,000. The Beaumont & Great Northern thus became the basis in 1923 for the Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine Railway Company, the last miles which would not be abandoned until 1961. Keeling notes the Beaumont and Great Northern R. R. from Trinity to Livingston. The company used five rod locomotives under his heading for the Beaumont and Great Northern and four rod locomotives under the heading for Wm. Carlisle & Co. Quarters were segregated for black (forty houses), whites (about seventy houses), and for Mexicans. For its logging camps, the company had seven “house cars” and one “commissary car.”