Today’s post is Chapter 8 in our series re-printing Frank Brooks’ “Travelling by Trolley in Mississippi: Stories about Streetcars,” originally published in 1983. View other posts in the series at the “Streetcars” tab.
The quaint old city of Natchez is another Mississippi city which enjoyed electric trolleys clanging up and down its hills and out its lovely shaded streets during the early decades of this century. The Natchez system eventually came to be known as the Southern Railway and Light Company. One of its routes started at the ferry lading on the Mississippi River and progresses up Silver Street to Broadway, along Broadway to Main Street, and then up Main to Pearl Street. A second line traveled to the end of St. Catherine Street. On this line, returning cars turned from St. Catherine onto Pine Street for a block, thence on Franklin to Pearl for another block to Main Street. The cars then turned east on Main Street for the short distance to Union Street, where the cars turned north and continued out Union to the popular Concord Park. Passing tracks were located on both Union and Pearl Streets.
Prior to the electrification of the lines in 1902, mule cars were run on these same routes. At the time of electrification, the trolley company in Natchez was chartered as the Natchez Electric Street Railway and Power Company. In 1907, the name was changed to the Southern Light and Traction Company. It became the Southern Railway and Light Company in 1914. The trolleys were abandoned during 1919 and 1920. Like the other Mississippi systems, which ended operations so early, data on the Natchez system is difficult to locate. However, it is said that a Mr. Ernest Jackson built the lines and that they were later managed by Mr. Frank J. Duffy.
Although Vicksburg’s trolley cars probably weren’t too much larger than those in Natchez, they must have been at least somewhat larger and a bit more modern. The reason I make this suggestion is that I remember a great-uncle of mine who was a life-long resident of Vicksburg describing the Natchez cars, on more than one occasion, as being “little dinky affairs!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank A. Brooks, Jr. has loved trains and streetcars for as long as he can remember. He and his wife Jo Anne are parents of 2 children and grandparents of 4. During his active ministry of 43 years in the Presbyterian Church he served in Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia and Arkansas. In retirement, Dr. and Mrs. Brooks live in her hometown Corinth, MS.
Categories: Architectural Research, Natchez
According to the US Census Bureau compilation for 1890, the Natchez Street R.R. Co operated 4.0 miles of line, but the number of passengers carried was not stated.
At 1902, the company had 4.5 miles of line and carried 274,702 passengers, but was in operation for just five months, from January 29 to June 30, 1902 (the end of the fiscal year). January 29, 1902, “might” have been the first day of public service for the first electric streetcars in Natchez.
At 1907, the company had 7.0 miles of line and carried 949,683 passengers.
Thereafter (1912, 1917), it was grouped together with “the rest” of Mississippi’s streetcar systems in the Census Bureau surveys. My “best guesses” for annual passenger traffic thereafter:
1912, very roughly 1 million.
1917, very roughly 800,000. The system length was down to 6.0 miles during this year.