Travelling by Trolley in Mississippi: Pascagoula

Today’s post is Chapter 9 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.

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Some contemporary residents of Pascagoula and Moss Point may be surprised to learn that streetcars formerly provided their area with a very fine system of public transportation! However, there are still people who live in this coastal setting who remember what fun it was to board the trolley at the Louisville and Nashville Railroad station and ride it to a summer picnic at Beach Park. Others can recall the pleasant ride all the way to the neighboring town of Moss Point.

Pascagoula’s Beach Park provided a site for marvelous holiday gatherings as well as the setting for plays performed by a summer stock company, and, from time to time, for magnificent fireworks displays. On such occasions, to accommodate the large crowds, trailers were added to the streetcars with motors. A very special car which always appeared on festive occasions was the “Longfellow.” It was an old coach from the “Most Point steam road,” that was subsequently renovated and fitted with electricity. According to the fond memories of Mr. Mac M. Morgan of Pascagoula, the “Longfellow” was also frequently rented for children’s birthday parties, as are the trolleys today on New Orleans’ St. Charles line.

PASCAGOULA. Freight motor “Jumbo” which faithfully hauled passengers, mail and express between Pascagoula and Moss Point.

The Pascagoula Street Railway and Power Company was incorporated on January 27, 1903. It was a successor to the previously mentioned steam line connecting Pascagoula and Moss Point. The longest line of the P.S.R.&P. Co. started at Dantzler’s Saw Mill northwest of Moss Point, proceeded through downtown Moss Point, entered private right of way on the electrified segment of the Moss Point & Pascagoula R.R. (present day Mississippi Export R.R.), and continued into Pascagoula on Pascagoula Street. On this line, passengers, mail and express were carried on the same trip. The familiar big freight motor which plied its way up and down the “Moss Point” line was known affectionately by local folk as “Jumbo.”

Before the Pascagoula system ceased operations in 1925, it owned and operated a total of nine passenger cars, three of which were trailers, and four freight-related vehicles. They operated on 9.7 miles of track.

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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, Pascagoula

2 replies

  1. Wow “Jumbo” the freight motor is so cool looking! With that big bell and what look like big lanterns on each end.

    Like

  2. More information is available today for the Pascagoula Street Railway and Power Company than for most other Mississippi street car companies. One source – available online – is the McGraw Electric Railway Manual. The 1913 edition lists officers and directors (most of them from Louisville, KY), and describes track and equipment:

    “Miles of track (electric), 9.7; 1 double and 5 single truck passenger motor cars, 2 passenger trail cars, 1 electric locomotive, 5 freight and express trail cars, 1 service car.”

    Another important source are the annual reports filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and now held by the National Archives research center in College Park, MD. Electric railways in general were exempt from reporting to the ICC because they did not engage in “interstate commerce.” However, certain companies were required to report – those that crossed state lines and those that interchanged freight with “steam railroads.” The Pascagoula company was part of the latter category.

    According to the US Census Bureau compilation for 1907, the Pascagoula Street Railway and Power Company company had 8.07 miles of line and carried 787,231 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 400,000.
    1917: very roughly 300,000.

    The company’s reports to the ICC for 1912, 1914 and 1915 state passenger revenues as $19,514.65, $24,098.32 and $17,056.78, respectively. But the company did not report the number of passengers it carried. At least one of the reports states that the company did not keep track of the number of passengers carried, and could not afford the office staff necessary to do this because it was losing money. (I don’t recall the exact wording.)

    The ICC reports also contain a terse obituary: “Sold for junk 1919.”

    The 1919 closure date is confirmed by the “List of electric railway companies which have abandoned entire rail service in United States, 1915 to 1931, inclusive.” This was published by the American Electric Railway Association (AERA) in 1932. Another confirmation: the US Census Bureau counted seven (7) Mississippi electric railway systems in operation at 1922, and those would have been Greenville, Gulfport & Mississippi Coast, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Laurel, Meridian and Vicksburg.

    (The AERA list is not 100 percent correct – it lists the Columbus, MS, system as having closed in 1915 – but it’s reasonably accurate.)

    So it would appear that the post-1919 closure dates, mentioned by various sources, are not correct.
    Among the unanswered questions related to the history of Pascagoula streetcars: why did passenger traffic levels decline so quickly after 1907? I’ve read that the 1906 hurricane “devastated” the longleaf pine forests that the Moss Point sawmills relied upon.

    The Mississippi Export Railroad website has a history page, and this makes no mention of the Pascagoula Street Railway. The streetcar company reported to the Census Bureau and the ICC that it owned all of its track (except for a short spur owned jointly with “a lumber company”), and did not report any leased track. Hmm.

    Also, the 1913 McGraw entry states that that the company “Connects Pascagoula, South Pascagoula, East Side and Moss Point.” Was there a streetcar line, not on the map, to eastern Pascagoula? (I doubt this: line from the railway station to the beach was 2.0 miles, and the line from Krebs Avenue to Moss Point was about 5.5 miles. That leaves just 0.6 mile “unaccounted” for.)

    Most interesting: an abandoned railroad track in Catalpa Avenue, Pascagoula, extends westward from the MERR to the Pascagoula River. This once crossed the river – apparently – to serve Pavco Industries (or its predecessor), may be viewed online (“Google Street View”). This might have been part of the Moss Point streetcar line.

    Liked by 1 person

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