Isaac C. Enochs of Crystal
Springs was one of Mississippi's
pioneer lumber men. In
the late 19th Century he along with his brothers erected at Fernwood what was to
become one of South Mississippi's large lumber mills. A steam locomotive operating
over wooden rails to transport logs from cutting areas to the mill became the first
railroad operated by the Fernwood Lumber Company. A 30" narrow-gauge line with
steel rails replaced the wood-rail tram road. I.C. Enochs was to become a leader in
the vast lumbering enterprise in Mississippi. By 1910 the Fernwood saw mill had
reached a production capacity of 100,000 board feet daily. A standard gauge logging
railroad with 45 pound rails and sixteen miles in length had replaced the narrow gauge
line. The company in 1910 rostered nine steam locomotives, seventy-five cars and
two American log loaders. By 1917 the mill had been increased in capacity to 175,000
board feet daily.
2-8-0 #11 receives attention at the FC&G shops, Fernwood, Mississippi, September, 1940. C. W. Witbeck photo.
Original negative in the collection of David S. Price
Like many lumber companies in
the South, the Fernwood Lumber
Company found it
their advantage to organize their main line logging railroad as a technically separate
common carrier. Thus, the Fernwood & Gulf Railroad was incorporated as a common
carrier under Mississippi law on March 31, 1906. The railroad was actually formed to
take over the Fernwood Lumber Company's main line trackage which was then in
operation eastward out of Fernwood, Mississippi where the lumber company's large
sawmill plant was located and interchange was made with the Illinois Central's
mainline. The common carrier initially extended to Tylertown, Mississippi, 20.3 miles
east of Fernwood. Branches and extensions were operated as part of the Fernwood
Lumber Company. In 1907 the New Orleans Great Northern's Bogue Chitto branch
was completed into Tylertown from the NOGN main line at Rio, Louisiana (a short
distance south of Bogulusa) and made connection with the F&G.
The Fernwood Lumber Company
extended it's main line in an
from Tylertown. This line was completed to Kokomo, 11.59 miles from Tylertown in
December 1910 where a headquarters lumber camp was established. The extension
was turned over to the Fernwood & Gulf Railroad.
The Fernwood & Gulf
undertook a final eastward extension
under its own corporate
identity to reach the New Orleans Great Northern main line at Foxworth in the fall of
1919, a distance of 9.55 miles from Kokomo. This completed the main line of 41.44
miles essentially as it was to be operated for the next fifty plus years.
On May 1, 1920, the Fernwood
& Gulf Railroad became the
Fernwood, Columbia &
Gulf Railroad. At the same time trackage rights were obtained from the New Orleans
Great Northern using that road's 2.68 mile branch to enter Columbia, Mississippi. This
involved use of the NOGN bridge across the Pearl River at Columbia. The FC&G
constructed a station and .36 miles of terminal trackage in Columbia. Over the next
decades the FC&G discussed the prospect of a further extension eastward to
Hattiesburg. This was especially so after the Enochs family who owned both Fernwood
Lumber Company and the FC&G purchased the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern
operating out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi for 27 miles to connect with the Gulf, Mobile &
Ohio at Beaumont. Nothing ever came of the proposed Columbia-Hattiesburg
Engine #12 prepares to leave the Illinois Central R.R. interchange at Fernwood, Mississippi with the daily FC&G freight in the late 1930's or early 1940's.
Original negative in the collection of David S. Price
Over the course of its history
the F&G/FC&G utilized
a variety of steam locomotives.
Most of them were typical of the Moguls, Ten Wheelers and Consolidations used by
shortlines the country over. Early locomotives came from the Fernwood Lumber
Company and the numbering system was intermingled. Several were used locomotives
purchased second-hand. Numbers 9 and 10 were 2-6-0's purchased new from Baldwin
by the Fernwood Lumber Company. Numbers 11 and 12 were Baldwin 2-8-0's also
built for FLCo. Number 15 acquired by the F&G in 1919 was most unusual in that it
was a 4-4-2 originally built as Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh #161. One wonders just
how a high-drivered passenger locomotive could have been much use on a shortline
with limited passenger traffic and necessarily slow speed operation. Number 15 was
gone by 1936.
FC&G rail bus M-3 at the Fernwood, Mississippi depot on September 28, 1937.
C. W. Witbeck photo from the David S. Price collection
In 1930 the
FC&G acquired a new Brill Model
30 rail bus. This became FC&G
Number M-1. The economy of such a small, internal combustion machine over steam
trains for mail and passenger service let to the addition of Ford V-8 powered Number
M-3 built by Kalamazoo in 1936. M-4 soon followed. The gasoline rail busses became
a common sight and is one of the most remembered features of FC&G operation by the
many people who lived along the line and took advantage of the transportation they
provided. Wood combine passenger car Number 6, no longer needed, was set out on
a siding at Fernwood and allowed to deteriorate. This was a "Jim Crow" car with a
baggage compartment in the center allowing passenger compartments at each end for
segregation of the races in true Old South style.