A Southwestern Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
St. Louis - Southwestern Railway
Cotton Belt


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The St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company (SSW) or (SLSW), known by its nickname of "The Cotton Belt Route" or simply "Cotton Belt", was organized on January 15, 1891, although it had its origins in a series of short lines founded in Tyler, Texas in 1877 that connected northeastern Texas to Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. The company gained trackage rights over Missouri Pacific Railroad to reach the St. Louis, Missouri area. SSW also operated a yard and locomotive servicing facility in East St. Louis, Illinois, just east of Valley Junction, and south of Alton and Southern Railroad's Gateway Yard, and north of Kansas City Southern's East St. Louis Yard. The Cotton Belt operated passenger trains out of St. Louis Union Station. They also had a freight station in Downtown St. Louis. Union Pacific Railroad now operates the yard (still named "Cotton Belt Yard"), but the engine servicing facilities have been demolished.
The St. Louis Southwestern and its subsidiaries operated a total of 1,607 miles of track in 1945; 1,555 miles of track in 1965; and 2,115 miles of track in 1981 after taking over the Rock Island's Golden State Route.
The Southern Pacific Company gained control of the Cotton Belt system on April 14, 1932 but continued to operate it as a separate company until 1992, when the SP consolidated the Cotton Belt's operations into the parent company. Cotton Belt diesel locomotives from 1959 on were painted in Southern Pacific's "bloody nose" scheme - dark gray locomotive body with a red "winged" nose. The letters "SSW" were painted on the nose and "Cotton Belt" on the sides. In 1996, the Union Pacific Railroad finished the acquisition that was effectively begun almost a century before with the purchase of the Southern Pacific by the UP in 1901, until divestiture was ordered in 1913. The merged company retains the name "Union Pacific" for all railroad operations. Former SLSW locomotives have been 'patched' with the UP logo and numbers, although a few locomotives still have the words "cotton belt" painted on the side.(wik)

Cotton Belt

Cotton Belt
June 2, 1946

Cotton Belt logo
In the 30's and 40's the Cotton Belt operated Pullman sleeper and chair car passenger trains on it's main lines from St. Louis and Memphis to Dallas, Texas, with several branch line coach trains as well. The Memphis-Dallas name train was the "Lone Star", and another name train, the "Morning Star" operated from St. Louis and Mermphis to Dallas.(rp)
Short History of the St. Louis - Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt Lines)(SLSW)

Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad
1855- New Madrid & West Prairie Railroad chartered to build a wagon toll road from New Madrid to Malden, Missouri, 27 miles.
1875 - NM&WP apparently not completed, and stockholders receive authority to use the right of way to build a railroad which is chartered as the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad.
1878 - The three foot gauge LRV&A railroad is opened from New Madrid to Malden, 27 miles.
1881 - LRV&A purchased by the Texas and St. Louis Railway.

Tyler Tap Railroad
1871- Tyler Tap Railroad incorporated to join Tyler, Texas fruit and other industry, by rail, to nearby railroads.
1875 - TT construction began as a 3 foot gauge rail line.
1877- TT railroad completed 27 miles from Tyler to Big Foot on the Texas andPacific.
1879- TT in financial trouble and founder works with St. Louis interests and the Texas & St. Louis Railway is incorporated to build from St. Louis through eastern Arkansas to Texarkana and Texas points primarily to haul cotton.
1880 - TT completes 144 miles of track from Texarkana to Big Sandy and from Tyler to Athens.
1881 - 38 miles from Athens to Corsicana completed.

Texas and St. Louis Railway Company (T&SL).
1881 - TT nameis changed to Texas and St. Louis Railway Company in Texas.
1882 - 102 miles completed Corsicana to Gatesville.
1883- T&SL line from Bird's Point, Missouri., through Waco, to Gatesville Texas is completed.

St. Louis Arkansas and Texas Railways of Arkansas/Missouri and Texas
1886- The St. Louis Arkansas and Texas Railways of Arkansas/Missouri and Texas are formed from the foreclosure sale of theT&SL and operated by the same management.
1886- Decision is made to change from narrow to standard gauge.
1887- Other lines begin to develop; the Little Rock & Eastern (Arkansas and Southern) to connect to the SLA&T main and the Shreveport & Arkansas to connect the main to Shreveport.

St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt)(SLSW)
1891- St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) formed from the old SLA&T after receivership.
1899- Kansas & Gulf Short Line and Tyler Southeastern purchased giving lines from Tyler toward the gulf. The gulf was not reached but connections to the International Great Northern were.
1903- Texas & Louisiana Railroad purchased.
1906- Eastern Texas Railroad purchased. These two lines gave the Cotton Belt access to Dallas and Lufkin, Texas.
1910-1918- Several small railroads, primarily in Arkansas and Texas, purchased or leased to form branches to local industries and agricultures.
1929-1930- Construction and short line acquisitions give Cotton Belt access to Memphis, Tn.
1930-1933- Southern Pacific obtains majority control of Cotton Belt. Cotton Belt retains its separate identity.
1942- First diesel powered switchers introduced on Cotton Belt.
1953-Cotton Belt completely dieselized.
1980- Rock Island Golden State route (Tucumcari, New Mexico-Kansas City and K.C.-St. Louis lines) acquired by Cotton Belt.(gs)
1992 - Cotton Belt absorbed into SP. Looses separate identity.
1996- SP and UP combine as Union Pacific.

Cotton Belt Map
St. Louis - Southwestern timetable Map - 1946


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
www.geocities.com/bnsffreak/history1.html (gs)
Cotton Belt Switchman, Wayne Beck, Pine Bluff Yard Contents taken from Cotton Belt News (1957) 08/21/98
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2008, revised Oct. 18 , 2011