Remember that post a while back about streetcars and how they came and went in Mississippi with hardly any physical reminders or even decent maps to show where they had been? Well, over the holidays, I picked up a publication that I’ve used as a reference but have never actually read straight through, “From Frontier Capital to Modern City: A history of Jackson, Mississippi’s built environment.” Actually I still haven’t read it all the way through, but I’m getting there. I guess I should call it a book, except that it doesn’t seem it was ever actually published as a book. The title page says it was “prepared for” the City of Jackson, Mississippi under Mayor Harvey Johnson by The Jaeger Company of Gainesville, Georgia. It also states that it was “financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service . . . through the Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.”
Unfortunately, and somewhat surprising given that it’s a historical document focusing on historical development, there’s no date of publication. I’m guessing it was produced during Mayor Johnson’s first or second term, which would be between 1997 and 2005. The MDAH catalog gives it an estimated date of 2000.
Anyway, the reason I’m going on about it is that inside, on page 51, is a map of Jackson’s streetcar lines in 1912, around the peak of the trolley system.
It’s no surprise that the trolley ran up State Street and out West Capitol, but I at least was taken aback by the other lines up Bailey and West Streets, down Gallatin, and even down South State Street. This information will definitely give me new eyes as I drive around Jackson and see patterns of development from that period.
Here’s a little of what “Frontier Capital to Modern City” has to say about the streetcars (pp.52-53):
By 1912, the Jackson Light and Traction Company has purchased the original Jackson Electric Railway, Light and Power Company, and in 1916 the company operated twenty-two cars over sixteen miles of track. The cars could accommodate between thirty and thirty-five people and were usually manned by a motorman and a conductor; top speed averaged twenty miles per hour. This period appears to have been the peak of the street railway’s usefulness in Jackson; by the mid-1920s, track mileage and the numbers of streetcars declined due to the popularity of the automobile.
As Kenneth Jackson so thoroughly explained in his Crabgrass Frontier, the streetcars and suburban development were tied together during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and I would have liked this publication to give us some details about which, if any, suburbs were developed under the auspices of the railway lines. But even so, this map is invaluable, and gives us all something to go on during jaunts out into wild wild West (and northwest and south) Jackson.
Surely there must be maps of the lines in each of the cities that had them, so keep your eyes peeled, and if you find one, I hope you’ll share it with the rest of us!