McCloud River Subsidiaries and Affiliates
Moscow, Camden & San Augustine Railroad
An indirect 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. W.T. Carter incorporated the W.T. Carter & Brothers Lumber Company in 1876, and by the 1890s the company built a large sawmill at the new company town of Camden, Texas. Camden lay a little less than six miles east of Moscow, Texas, a town on the Houston to Shreveport (Louisiana) main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. On 28 May 1898 the Carter company organized the Moscow, Camden & San Augustine Railroad (MC&SA), which projected a 65-mile line from Moscow east through Camden to San Augustine, Texas, but managed to only ever build the first 6.87 miles to Camden.
The operation 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 into the early 1960s; the road still offered regularly scheduled passenger service using an 1898-built wooden combination car attached to the end of freight trains; and that the Carter company had accumulated eleven steam locomotives from its various operations around the region in a field adjacent to the sawmill. The mill and its associated 180,000 acres of prime Texas timberlands stood out as attractive acquisition target, and in 1969 Ply-Champ purchased the operations and the railroad. The sale marked the abrupt end of the town of Camden, as Ply-Champ relocated all of the employees to nearby Corrigan, Texas, and razed almost all of the buildings in Camden. 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 another page in this section, Ply-Champ had just acquired the Ahnapee & Western Railroad 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.
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.
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 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. The Carters donated it to the Grisby Foundation, who subsequently sold it to the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas tourist railroad. Ray Whitaker photo, Jeff Moore collection.
Another view of the #201. Ivan W. Saunders photo.
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. 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.
One of the larger Carter steam locomotives at Camden was this Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 1923. It had the honor of being the last steam locomotive to operate on the MC&SA when it ran for a month or so in January 1965 while the road's diesel was down for a rebuild. The locomotive spent some time on display in Houston before the Carter family took it back, it now resides on family property in Camden.
Steam on the MC&SA lasted until 1961 when the road purchased this 44-ton General Electric switcher from the Southern Pacific. GE had originally built the locomotive in 1944 for SP subsidiary Pacific Electric, and it later worked for the Texas & New Orleans, another SP subsidiary, before its sale to the MC&SA. It handled all MC&SA trains from 1961-1971 except for the month or so the #14 filled in for it as described above. P.D. Custer Jr. photo, Jeff Moore collection.
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.
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.
One of the locomotives that replaced the #601 but retained the paint scheme was MC&SA #1, a General Electric 110-ton centercab switcher built new for the road in 1978 and seen here in 1981. Conniff Railroadiana Collection photo.
The MC&SA today uses a pair of EMD switchers, SW1200 #1 and SW900 #3. The #3- built in 1957 for Champion Paper Company and transferred to the MC&SA in the early 1980s- is seen here on 17 February 1985. MC&SA purchased the #1- originally built in 1954 for SP subsidiary Texas & New Orleans- from the Southern Pacific in the late 1980s. George Morna photo, Jeff Moore collection.
Another view of the #3, this one by James C. Herold and shot on 29 November 2002. Jeff Moore collection.
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
Contemporary shots of the MC&SA showing the orange and white paint still in use