Tap Lines
  The Home Page for Southeastern Short line,
Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railroad History and Photographs.
July, 2003
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An Inspection Trip on the Gulf Ports Terminal Railway

Donald R. Hensley, Jr.

Photos copied by the author  from the original photos at the University of West Florida's
Special Collection in Pensacola, Fla.

    The Gulf Ports Terminal Railway was the last reorganization of the Pensacola, Mobile & New Orleans RR in an attempt to sell stock and bonds for an extension to Mobile, Alabama with the idea that if the old name failed to win support, change the name and try again. The PM&NO itself was an reorganization and merger between the Pensacola & Perido and the  Pensacola Alabama & Tennessee.
    The original Pensacola and Perido RR (originally incorporated in 1837 and again in 1869) operated a short 8 mile railroad from the docks and terminals of Pensacola to the  sawmill port town of Millview on Perido Bay which was built in the early 1870's.. Here at least a half a dozen sawmills operated, most receiving their logs by floating them across the bay from Baldwin County Alabama. Much of the timber sawed was also floated out to waiting ships in the deep water of the bay. The railroad mostly carried in supplies and carried out rail bound lumber shipments. An extension which was incorporated as the Pensacola Alabama and Tennessee in 1892 (formerly Pensacola & Northern RR 1892) was built 16 miles from MIllview to Muscogee, Fla where it connected with the huge sawmill of the Southern States Lumber Co. However the railroad was never pushed north to Alabama much less to Tennessee. The Gulf, Florida and Alabama beat them to the state line so again a new railroad was chartered and the Pensacola Mobile & New Orleans was established in 1907 and turned its attention to Baldwin County, building a new extension 22 mile long. This served the needs of the Southern States Lumber Co. and other loggers for many years. However as there was no other online traffic here the owner, Henry McLaughlin knew he had to expand to Mobile and to create a short line between that city and Pensacola so he consolidated all his holding into the PM&NO im 1915 and tried to interest outside investors. But the money was not for coming and he was forced again to rechartered the railroad in 1916 and merging it all into the Gulf Ports Terminal  in 1917 in hopes of fooling the investors.

This little beauty is Gulf Ports Terminal # 6, a baby Baldwin, c/n 8193 built in Oct. of 1886 for one of the predecessors of the GPT, the Pensacola & Perido Ry. Shot in Baldwin County, Alabama sometime around 1920, she is getting a drink of swamp water from a nearby standpipe, could be an artesian well. This baby Baldwin weighed 30 tons with 12x18" cylinders.

This is a caboose/coach, this forty footer was built by the Pensacola , Mobile & New Orleans in 1912, another predecessor of the Gulf Ports Terminal. Having no passenger cars this was used for carrying what little passengers there were. The front area was no doubt used for carry express or baggage. Here it is being used as an outdoor sitting area for the dignitaries judging by the chair on the porch


A nice side view of the car and loco, showing that the coach is merely a built up flat car. The GPT had another similar car, but it was a 36 footer. The porch roof  looks like an afterthought and does not match the main roof.

Here the train has stopped for fuel and the guys are throwing the wood into the tender. One piece is in mid air with it's shadow on the side.

The man in the center is Henry McLaughlin, president of the Gulf Ports terminal and he was associated with all of its predecessors. Here he is leading an inspection of the end of railroad, quite possibly trying interest investors in his scheme to build a bridge over Mobile Bay to Mobile. Good view of the end detail of the caboose.

Another view of the end of the caboose/coach. Note that even though this carried interstate passengers and freight, link and pin couplers are still in use and with no air. Don't tell the ICC boys.

The Baldwin County lands were all cut out and is the reason the GPT was looking to expand to Mobile. When they realized no money was forthcoming for a bridge, they then tried another scheme, a car ferry across the bay. But the end was in sight as no investor could be found to finance the construction. The Gulf Ports Terminal was finally abandoned in 1926 except for the terminal facilities in Pensacola. The terminal facilities were first offered to the L&N but when the negotiations broke down the Frisco purchased the property to better their facilities in Pensacola. The Frisco had purchased the Gulf Florida & Alabama in 1927 and had merged it into their Muscle Shoals, Birmingham & Pensacola RR subsidiary. This was in turn merged into the Frisco in 1928.
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