McCloud River Subsidiaries and Affiliates
Moscow, Camden & San Augustine Railroad




An interesting vestige of the McCloud River Railroad still exists in the pine forests of eastern Texas, 175 miles southeast of Dallas, eighty-five miles northeast of Houston, and about 1,700 miles southeast of McCloud. East Texas is covered by thick stands of pine and hardwood forests, which supported the development of a nascient timber industry by the 1850s. The industry really started to flourish in the years after the Civil War as railroads built into the region provided economical transportation to distant markets. Similar to many other geographical regions, the timber industry in eastern Texas started with small sawmills that would exist in one spot for only as long as the surrounding timber lasted, at which point the sawmill would be moved to the next stand of trees. Lumber moved to either the market or the nearest railhead in wagons drawn by teams of oxen. Horses and high wheels almost identical to those used in the McCloud woods skidded logs out of the forest, with wagons used in longer log hauls.

Twenty year old W.T. Carter incorporated the W.T. Carter & Brother Lumber Company in 1876, which got its start buying out his father's bankrupt sawmill operation in Trinity, Texas. The Carter company at first followed the typical operational pattern in the region, building and operating a succession of small mills into the early 1880s. By that point W.T. Carter had started to rethink the entire operational structure of the industry, correctly foreseeing the efficiencies that could be gained by operating one larger sawmill built on a railroad line and supplied by vast stands of timberlands for extended periods of time. Carter first put this concept into practice around 1882 when he broke ground on a new sawmill on a main line of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (M-K-T) railroad at what would shortly become the new town of Barnum, Texas. Carter plowed every penny he could spare into buying timberlands lying to the south of the new sawmill, and by 1885 the company broke ground on a narrow gauge logging railroad- known locally as trams- to better handle the ever increasing log haul distance to the mill, using a pair of small Shay type locomotives for power.

Carter was among a large number of Texas lumber producers that had reaped the benefits of secret shipping rebates from railroads until the state created the Texas Railroad Commission and adopted new laws and an amendment to the state constitution that, among many other actions, prohibited such rebates. Carter had realized that building and owning his own shortline railroad between his sawmill and a mainline connection would allow him to participate in, and benefit from, the freight rates he was paying to ship the lumber he produced. A fire ignited by sparks from a M-K-T steam locomotive that destroyed the Barnum mill on 1 September 1897 gave Carter the opening he needed to put these thoughts into practice. Carter shortly selected a new sawmill site four miles southwest of Barnum, to which his crews extended the narrow gauge tram. Construction of the new sawmill and the adjacent company town of Camden commenced as soon as ground could be cleared. The new sawmill site lay roughly four miles south of the M-K-T line along which the Barnum mill had been built and a little over six miles east of Moscow, Texas, on the north-south mainline of the Houston East & West Texas Railway, and Carter opened negotiations with both carriers. The HE&WT offered Carter the better terms, and on 23 June 1898 Carter and his associates incorporated the Moscow, Camden & San Augustine Railroad "to construct the proposed railroad from Moscow in Polk County, thence through Tyler and Angelina Counties to San Augustine in San Augustine County a distance of fifty miles. The corporate headquarters were established at Camden, Texas". Construction commenced quickly, with the 6.87 miles between Moscow and Camden, the only part of the projected line ever built, placed into operation on 19 November 1898. The Carter company promptly scrapped out the old narrow gauge tram and sold the Shays, but started building standard gauge tram lines to bring logs out of the woods to the new Camden mill.

The MC&SA quickly settled down to its bucolic existence. Available records suggest the MC&SA relied on a single 4-4-0 for most of its early power, supplanted by a 2-6-0 and a second 4-4-0 used in some of the first decades. The railroad existed only to serve the needs of the W.T. Carter & Brother company, which largely meant hauling empty cars from the HE&WT interchange at Moscow to the Camden mills and then returning the cars to Moscow once loaded. Passengers and express traffic, which in the early years included almost all goods sold in the company store at Camden, rode in a caboose until the railroad purchased a combination passenger and baggage car in 1906. The Southern Pacific acquired control of the HE&WT in 1899, though the road would not be fully merged into SP's Texas & New Orleans subsidiary until the 1920s. Meanwhile, the Carter company continued pushing a vast network of logging tram railroads into the woods every direction from Camden, which it powered with a roster of at least 18 standard gauge steam locomotives the company acquired through the years. Many of these worked for the Carter-Kelley Lumber Company, a collaboration between W.T. Carter and G.A. Kelley in Manning, Texas, located ninteen and a half miles northeast of Camden that itself was served by the company owned Shreveport, Houston & Gulf Railroad Company. The two operations became increasingly intermixed after the Carter company completed a tram line connecting Camden and Manning in 1928, though the Manning mill was not rebuilt after a fire destroyed the facilities in January 1935.


Baldwin built this 2-8-0 new for Carter in 1911, and in 1929 they transferred it to the MC&SA as its #6. This locomotive is now on display at the Texas Transportation Museum. Jeff Moore collection.


MC&SA's other primary steam locomotive in the late steam era was this 2-6-0, originally built by Alco in 1906 for the Isthmian Canal Commission for use in building the Panama Canal. The Equitable Equipment Company of New Orleans purchased a large number of these Moguls after the canal had been completed and brought them back to the U.S., where they had to be regauged from 5-foot to American standard gauge. They were especially popular with southeastern logging railroads and shortlines. Carter purchased this machine from Equitable in 1922 and then transferred it to the MC&SA in 1929. It's seen in this photo in Moscow on 15 July 1937. In the last years the railroad rotated every other week between the #6 and #201. Ray Whitaker photo, Jeff Moore collection.


Another view of the #201, this one in Camden, with one of the Carter Lumber locomotives visible behind it in the enginehouse. Ivan W. Saunders photo.


An undated rear 3/4 view of the #201, probably switching in Camden late in its career. After retirement the Carters donated it to the Grisby Foundation, who subsequently sold it to the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas tourist railroad, where it powered excursion trains into the late 1980s. The ES&NA sold the locomotive in 2019 to the city of Anna, Texas, which is cosmetically restoring the #201 for display in their Shereley Heritage Park.

The MC&SA became well known by the later 1960s for several reasons, principally that Camden was the last company timber town in Texas; the MC&SA had remained 100% steam powered until 1961; the road still offered regularly scheduled passenger service using an 1898-built wooden combination car the railroad had purchased used in 1927 attached to the end of freight trains; and that the Carter company had accumulated eight or nine steam locomotives from its various operations around the region in a field adjacent to the sawmill. The passenger service initially survived due to provisions in Texas state law that seemed to require every common carrier railroad operating in the state provide passenger service, but as the years progressed some railfans and even larger crowds of regular tourists driving up from Houston or other population centers in the region sometimes filled the old combination car to the bursting point. The train left Camden every weekday at 10:40 A.M. sharp, arriving in Moscow at 11:10 A.M. Once in Moscow the locomotive would be turned on the Armstrong turntable, the outbound loads would be spotted, and the inbound cars rounded up from the interchange tracks. The return trip was scheduled out of Moscow at 11:55 A.M., with arrival back in Camden set for 12:25 P.M. Fare to ride the train stood at twenty-five cents for a one way trip or fifty cents for the round trip for decadees. Once back in Camden many passengers would flock from the train to the company cookhouse, where a dollar could buy one of the best noon meal available for many miles in any direction.


MC&SA's Camden depot as it appeared on 7 July 1960. As a reminder that this was the Jim Crow south, the signs over the two doors denote separate entrances for "Whites" and "Colored"; the combination car had similarly segregated compartments. Jeff Moore collection.


A view of some of the steam locomotives stored in Camden in the 1960s.


Among the Carter locomotives stored in Camden by the early 1960s was this Baldwin 2-6-0, seen here as Carter-Kelley Lumber #2 in Manning, Texas, in June 1939. R.H. Carlson.


The #2 as it appeared later in its life. The Carters sold it to the Reader Railroad in Arkansas. The locomotive last operated in tourist service from 2011-2017 on the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad, operating on the Florida Central Railroad out of Tavares, Florida. R.H. Carlson.


Carter-Kelley #3, also seen here in Manning in June 1939, would also spend decades in storage at Camden. It now resides at the Texas Forest Museum in Lufkin, Texas. R.H. Carlson.


Carter-Kelley #4 in Camden, Texas, in July 1938. The Reader Railroad also acquired this locomotive, and it operated in the early 2000s on the Orlando & Mt. Dora Railroad out of Orlando, Florida. This locomotive also appeared in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? R.H. Carlson.

Steam on the MC&SA lasted until 1961, when the railroad finally acquired a used General Electric 44-ton switcher and the two steam locomotives joined the rest of the Carter ghost fleet in the field next to the sawmill. The Carter company abandoned the last of the tram railroads out of Camden at about this same time, as trucks took over all log deliveries to the mills. Otherwise operations continued as they always had, as the switch from steam to diesel power didn't substantially affect ridership. The one exception came in January 1965 when the diesel would be undergoing a scheduled rebuild, which prompted the Carter company to return its steam locomotive #14 to service to handle trains on the MC&SA. Several railroad magazines got news of the brief return of steam, and many railfans flocked to the piney woods of east Texas for one last look at what had become a long forgotten anachronism, a steam powered shortline mixed freight.


MC&SA #17, the 44-ton General Electric switcher from the Southern Pacific that ended most steam operations. The locomotive had quite a history; GE built it in November 1944 as their Construction Number 18183 for SP subsidiary Pacific Electric, where it carried road number 1654. On 1 November 1958 SP transferred the locomotive to another subsidiary, the Texas & New Orleans, who numbered it 17. The T&NO retired the #17 on 30 June 1960 and then sold it to the W.T. Carter & Brothers Lumber Company on 4 January 1961. Carter rented the locomotive to the MC&SA a week later, and then sold it to the railroad another week after that. It handled all MC&SA trains from 1961-1971 except for the month or so the #14 filled in for it as described above. The #17 is seen here in Camden in 1968; the wooden platform on the roof once supported the trolley poles required to activate the signal system on the electrified Pacific Electric. P.D. Custer Jr. photo, Jeff Moore collection.


Another view of the #17 in Camden, this time coupled to the road's passenger car. The MC&SA sold the #17 to locomotive dealer George Silcott in 1971; Silcott resold the locomotive to Transcar Service Company, Logansport, Indiana, in 1973, where it operated for many years until scrapped following a fire. Unknown photographer, Jeff Moore collection.


Last steam locomotive to operate on the MC&SA was the large 2-8-2 #14. Baldwin built the locomotive in 1923 for the Rock Creek Lumber Company of Trinity, Texas. It later passed through the hand of the Texas Long Leaf Lumber Company, from whom Carter bought it in 1940. The #14 was too big to fit on the turntable in Moscow, which caused it to run tender first back to Camden during the month it filled in for the diesel.

The era of corporate consolidations finally caught up with the Camden operations at the end of the 1960s. The Camden mills and their associated 180,000 acres of prime Texas timberlands stood out as extremely attractive acquisition targets for expansion minded companies, and in 1969 U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers (Ply-Champ for short) made the Carter family an offer they couldn't refuse. Much like U.S. Plywood's purchase of the McCloud River operations the sale marked the abrupt end of the company town of Camden, though in this case it meant the end of the entire town as Ply-Champ relocated all of the employees to nearby Corrigan, Texas, and razed almost all of the buildings in Camden save for those associated with the sawmill. The Carters retained the old steam locomotive collection, which they distributed to various museums and tourist railroads in Texas and Arkansas. The MC&SA passenger business continued under the new ownership, as by this point it had become a popular tourist attraction.

Ply-Champ initially considered abandoning the MC&SA, but elected to continue its operations, which paid off as rail traffic substantially increased due to a new plywood plant Ply-Champ built in Camden. Woodchip traffic shipped to a Ply-Champ paper mill in Houston further swelled the traffic base, and the new owner rebuilt the entire length of the railroad to handle the increased traffic. The heavier trains also severely taxed the small 44-ton General Electrict switcher that constituted the MC&SA's entire motive power fleet, and in 1971 Ply-Champ elected to replace it. As detailed on the Ahnapee & Western page in this section, Ply-Champ had just acquired the A&W in Wisconsin and made it an operating division of the McCloud River Railroad. The A&W purchase included two 70-ton General Electric locomotives, which Ply-Champ had cycled through the Green Bay & Western shops for repainting into McCloud River orange and white. The A&W #601 was the second to be painted, and as it was in the shop Ply-Champ decided the A&W only needed one of the 70-tonners. Ply-Champ instructed the GB&W to letter the #601 for the MC&SA, and to ship it south to Texas instead of back to the A&W upon completion.

The #601 replaced the old 44-tonner upon its arrival and remained the primary power on the MC&SA until replaced by newer and larger locomotives in the late 1970s. The MC&SA repainted its old combination car orange and white to match the #601 shortly after its arrival, but the passenger operations only lasted another two years. In July 1973 a runaway log truck crashed into a loaded woodchip hopper in a MC&SA freight at the Highway 59 grade crossing just east of Moscow, resulting in a spectacular flaming wreck; the combination car and its 57 passengers had only been seconds away from being in the crossing at the time of the collision, and the old car was saved from being engulfed in flames by a quick thinking brakeman who uncoupled the car from the burning woodchip hopper and allowed it to roll freely away from the wreck. The MC&SA cancelled all passenger service effective the next day and sold the combination car off shortly afterwards, but freight operations continued.


The former AHW #601, seen here on 14 July 1971 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has been lettered for the Moscow, Camden & San Augustine and is about to depart for its new Texas home. Ronald A. Plazzotta photo, Jeff Moore collection.


Immediately after the #601 arrived on the property the MC&SA repainted its combination car #512 to match the new locomotive. The car was built in 1898 for the Long Island Rail Road and had been on the MC&SA since 1927. The car survives today in private hands somewhere in the Southeast; it's seen here in Camden on 26 November 1971.


The #601 switching in Camden on 29 August 1974. Conniff Railroadiana photo.


Moscow, Camden & San Augustine's former AHW #601 in September 1977. G.J. Bolinsky photo, Jeff Moore collection.


Another view of the MC&SA #601, this one in September 1978. Conniff Railroadiana Collection photo.


An uncredited black and white photo of the #601 in Camden on 15 November 1980.


One last photo of the #601 in Camden, this one dated 13 January 1982.

Unlike the McCloud River operations, Champion International retained the Camden mill and the MC&SA. The railroad also got into incentive per diem boxcars with a fleet of at least 249 cars leased from BRAE corporation, one of Itel's chief competitors in the boxcar leasing business. Champion merged into International Paper in 2000, who in turn sold the Camden plywood plant and the MC&SA to Georgia Pacific in 2007. While the #601 is long gone from Camden and all plants there except for the plywood plant have closed, the MC&SA has continued painting its locomotives and other equipment in a simplified version of the McCloud River orange and white ever since, and the railroad appears to have a secure future hauling carloads of plywood from Camden out to the Union Pacific connection at Moscow.


One of MC&SA's boxcars, now stenciled for the Mississippian Railway, in Tacoma, Washington, in December 1988. Keith E. Ardinger photo.


The #601 was the sole power on the MC&SA until 1978, when Champion International ordered a new 110-ton centercab switcher from General Electric, GE Construction Number 41132. Champion promptly either leased or sold the locomotive to the MC&SA, which assigned it #1 on the roster. The locomotive is seen here in its factory paint scheme passing through St. Louis, Illinois, on 5 November 1978. Mark Carron photo, Keith E. Ardinger collection.


The MC&SA added a white stripe around the #1 shortly after its arrival, resulting in a simplified version of the McCloud River paint scheme. The #1 is seen here at Camden in 1981. Conniff Railroadiana Collection photo.


One more shot of the large GE, this time in Moscow about 1982. The #1 is also credited as carrying the road number 548 on some printed rosters in the middle 1980s. G.J. Bolinsky photo.


Around 1982 or 1983 Champion International transferred its EMD SW900 switcher #3, built new for Champion Papers in April 1957 as EMD's Construction Number 23304, to the MC&SA. The newly arrived #3 is seen here getting some mechanical work in Camden shortly after arriving on the property. Bill Calmes photo.


MC&SA painted the #3 into the simplified McCloud River scheme shortly after its arrival, and it is seen here at rest with the #601 in front of the Camden enginehouse. Note the #601 has also been repainted into the simplified version of the scheme by this point as well. MC&SA sold the #601 to Tex-Trax-Econorail Division of Port Arthur, Texas, in May 1984, where it worked until scrapped in 2001. Bill Calmes photo.


MC&SA #3 in Camden on 17 February 1985. George Morna photo, Jeff Moore collection.


The #3 switching in Camden on 5 May 1989. Ken Annett photo.


Another view of the #3, this one by James C. Herold and shot on 29 November 2002. Jeff Moore collection.


The GE centercab served the MC&SA until late 1990, when Champion International sent it to switch their big paper mill in Lufkin, Texas. The big GE continued working for corporate successors Donohue, Abitbi Consolidated, and AbitibiBowater at the Lufkin plant until it shut down permanently in 2007, at which time Texas Timberjack, a local equipment dealer, bought the locomotive. To replace the GE the MC&SA bought an EMD SW1200 switcher. EMD built this locomotive in February 1954 as their Construction Number 19491 new for Southern Pacific's subsidiary Texas & New Orleans, where it carried road number #118. The locomotive became SP #2218 in a 1965 general renumbering, then was renumbered again to SP #2311 following and upgrading completed in Houston in 1973-1974. SP retired the locomotive on 30 December 1986, then sold it to Precision National on 29 October 1987. The MC&SA bought the locomotive in September 1990, repainted it into the orange and white, and numbered it their second #1. Together it and the #3 provide all of the railroad's power today. The #1 is seen here with empty cars on the line between Moscow and Camden on 28 Februar 2003. Paul Morrissey photo.


The second #1 in Camden on 6 April 2011. Bob Eisthen photo.


One other piece of equipment on the MC&SA that wore the McCloud orange and white was the railroad's business car, a former Southern Pacific bay window caboose, seen here in Camden on 7 February 1992. J. Harlen Wilson photo, Keith E. Ardinger collection.


Principal references for much of this page are a pair of issues of the Journal of Texas Shortline Railroads and Transportation, specifically Volume 1 Number 3, November/December 1996 and January 1997, of which almost the entire issue is devoted to the MC&SA and other W.T. Carter railroads; and Volume 3 Number 1, May/June/July 1998, which has a follow up article on the railroads. Some material is also derived from Forest Rails, Georgia-Pacific's Railroads by Russell Tedder, published 2016 by White River Productions; various issues of the American Shortline Railway Guide; and some other sources. Special thanks also goes to Keith E. Ardinger, Kenneth Ardinger, and Randy Keller.

Links to other websites of interest. Pages will open in a new window.

Former A&W #601 on the Moscow, Camden & San Augustine

Photo essay of steam on the MC&SA in the early 1960s

Another fan site covering the MC&SA

Don's Rail Photos site on the MC&SA

A 2000 visit to the MC&SA