Southern Pacific Railroad Company

Originally called the Texas Western Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad was unrelated to the later, better known Southern Pacific.

Planters in Harrison County helped to sponsor the construction of the railroad, which by 1858 connected Marshall to Swanson’s Landing on Caddo Lake. At that time it was only 25 miles long, but it “greatly aided planters east of Marshall.”1

Part of the construction on the line was done during the Civil War, according to HOT:

During 1857 the railroad constructed twenty-three miles of track between Marshall and Swanson’s Landing on Caddo Lake. During the Civil War part of the line to Caddo Lake was taken up, and the rails were relaid to Waskom where connection was made with the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railway Company, thus forming a line between Marshall and Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1869 the company completed an additional twenty-three miles from Marshall to Longview. The Southern Pacific was sold to the Texas Pacific Railroad Company on March 21, 1872.

Jeptha Fowlkes was president of the company in 1857 and 1858, when a group of trustees apparently tried to sell the road but were stopped by a judge’s injunction.

Civil War Years

During the war itself, the company was apparently ordered by Kirby Smith to connect their road to Shreveport and was granted some 200 impressed slave laborers, together with rations, to do the work. The company also apparently also controlled about 180 black construction hands, though it’s unclear whether this was the impressed team or additional hired hands.2 According to kerby1972, the effort to close the gap between Marshall and Shreveport failed when “the Southern Pacific ran out of iron” (82).

  1. campbell1997, 99-100.

  2. See Report of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to Pendleton Murrah, June 1, 1864, Records of the Governor Pendleton Murrah, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Box 301-45, Folder 34.