Jay Gould

Historic Railroad Document! Jay Gould’s signed First Mortgage to fund construction of the Memphis Branch of his St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company – the 93 miles of track connecting Bald Knob, Arkansas, to West Memphis on the Mississippi River, opened 2½ years later!

Partly Printed Document Signed “Jay Gould” as President of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company, 24 pages, 8.5” x 11”. New York, December 15, 1885. Countersigned “Louis Fitzgerald” as President of the Mercantile Trust Company and two witnesses; all four signatures and blind embossed seals are on the 20th page of the booklet bound together by string. The signed statement of Notary Public “W.W. Norton” is on pages 21-22, followed on pages 22-24 by four manuscript statements and embossed seals of the clerks of White, Woodruff, Cross, and Crittenden counties, Arkansas.

A first mortgage bond to fund construction of the Memphis Branch of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company. The Railway Company, in part, “has determined to build a branch of its road on the most eligible route to be determined by survey, extending from or near the town of Bald Knob, in White County, Arkansas, or such other point on the main line of its railway in said County, as the directors or Executive Committee of said company may select or approve, eastwardly through White, Woodruff, Cross and Crittenden or other Counties, in the State of Arkansas, to Hopefield or West Memphis, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, opposite Memphis, Tennessee, or to such other point in Crittenden County as the said Railway Company may select or approve, which said branch is hereinafter called the Memphis Branch…” Luckily, Gould chose West Memphis. In 1912, Hopefield was destroyed by flooding when the mighty Mississippi changed its course.

The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company was created on March 3, 1851, by a special act of the Missouri Legislature. Running from St. Louis to Texarkana, the railway was acquired by Jay Gould in 1880. He began the development of a southwestern system built around the Missouri Pacific. It was at that time that the company first reached Texas. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway and its line from Kansas to Texas was leased on December 1, 1880. Gould also acquired control of the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and the International and Great Northern Railroad Company, as well as other railroads in Texas. By December 1883, Gould had control of 9,547 miles of railroad lines nationwide.

Excerpt from “Arkansas, Railroads” on page 47 of “The Report on the Internal Commerce of the United States for the Fiscal Year 1889” by William F. Switzler, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, Treasury Department (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1889): “Jay Gould and associates purchased this property and completed the line from St. Louis to Texarkana in 1873. This railroad, under the name of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company, has been one of the principal factors in the development of the State. It was the first railway built through the State, connecting at St. Louis with all the lines of railroad centering at that point, and at Texarkana with the railroads of Texas. It yet retains its position as the most important line of railroad in the State, as it passes diagonally through the State from northeast to southwest, and has constructed branches from the main stem to many of the important towns of the State off the main line. Some of these branches are over 90 miles in length.

“In 1883 it purchased the Little Rock, Mississippi River and Texas Railroad, extending from Little Rock to Arkansas City, with a branch from Tripp to Warren, 163 miles. The total mileage of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company in this State, including its branches, is 790.5 miles, and it furnishes transportation facilities to 29 counties of the State. This corporation is a part of the Missouri Pacific system, which also controls the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad, extending from Little Rock to Fort Smith, 170 miles. Thus, under one management are two lines of road, one extending from Memphis west by way of Little Rock to Fort Smith, on the western border of the State; the other from Moark, on the line of the State of Missouri, to Texarkana, on the Texas line. This system furnishes railroad facilities to 36 counties of the State.

“The zealous and intelligent labors of the land department of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company in advertising the capabilities and resources of Arkansas have resulted in much benefit to the State, as by the exhibition of specimens of the timber, minerals, cereals, grapes, and fruits at the great centers of trade and population by this department capital and labor have been brought in. The lumber business and growing fruit for export originated along the line of this road.”

Concluding his description of the present line of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company, in his 1889 report, Switzler notes that the “Memphis Branch, Bald Knob to West Memphis, 93 miles, opened May 13, 1888.”


Item: 53645

Price: $5,000.00
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Jay Gould
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