Vernon Parish railroad history started in 1880 with the Calcasieu, Vernon, and Shreveport Railroad and ended in 1941 with the Camp Claiborne-Camp Polk Railroad. During these 61 years, approximately 27 railroads were built in Vernon Parish.
There were two types of railroads, common freight and logging. Common freight trains always ran on permanent rails of 4'-8.5" apart, which was standard. Logging trains ran on temporary rails 36" apart. Logging trains carried logs to the mills while common freight trains carried lumber to market, goods to the mill towns, and passengers. All rails in Vernon Parish were standard except the Dallas, Sabine, and New Orleans Railroad at Hart, which was 36".
Because of space limitations, only half of the railroads are covered. The remaining half are listed at the end of the article to be covered at a later date.
1880 - Calcasieu, Vernon, & Shreveport Railway - Incorporated in 1880 to build a railroad from Shreveport to Calcasieu Parish through Vernon Parish. In 1897 the railroad was sold to the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad and became the KCS in 1900.
1897 - Kansas City, Pittsburg, & Gulf Railroad - Chartered in 1887 in Kansas City by Arthur Stilwell. It services 10 states in the United States plus Mexico with 3,400 miles of track. In
1897 a route was built from Shreveport to Port Arthur, Texas, through Vernon Parish. Three years later in 1900 it was renamed the Kansas City Southern or KCS.
1902 - Missouri & Louisiana Railroad - Owned by the Central Coal & Coke Co. In 1906 the company had 81 miles with 11 engines and 177 cars. The company was renamed the Delta Land & Timber Co. in 1914 and the railroad was renamed Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad.
1904 - Louisiana Central Railroad - Owned by the Pickering Lumber Co. It had lines at Neame, Hornbeck, Barham, Pickering, and Cravens. The railroad had 75 miles and 12 engines.
1904 - Zimmerman, Leesville, & Southwestern Railway - The railway was planned, but never finished, from Zimmerman in Rapides Parish to Leesville. The line was completed to the Vernon Parish line at Edwards and Hoyt communities on the east bank of Devil's Swamp, also called Cypress Bayou.
1904 - Jasper & Eastern Railroad - Chartered under Texas to build an 81 mile railroad from Kirbyville, TX to Oakdale through DeRidder and South Vernon Parish. The line was leased to the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad in 1906. The DeRidder to Oakdale rail was abandoned.
1905 - Red River & Gulf Railroad - Built by the Crowell & Spencer Lumber Co. from Peason to Lecompte and Meridian through Longleaf. The railroad had 23.32 miles of track in Rapides Parish and 45 to 60 miles in Vernon Parish. The company owned 7 engines. The number of cars could not be found. The railway was dismantled in 1954.
1906 - Gulf & Sabine River Railroad - Owned by the Gulf Lumber Co., it had 39 miles of rail at Stables (New Llano), Elmwood, and Fullerton.
1906 (abt.) - Leesville East & West Railroad - Owned by the Nona Mills Co., the west line went to Schley and the east line went to Front. The railroad consisted of 20 miles of line with 3 engines and 40 cars.
1909 - Alexandria & Western Railway - Chartered in 1909 to build a railroad from Alexandria to East Texas through Vernon Parish. The line was completed as far as Gardner. Because of continued financial difficulties, the railroad filed for abandonment in 1925.
1914 - Neame, Carson, & Southern Railroad - Railway was the old Missouri & Louisiana Railroad (1902-1914). The railroad owned 3 engines and 65 cars plus 22 miles of track from Neame across Anacoco Creek to Camp Baker and 3 miles of track to Junction. The rail was abandoned in 1926.
1917 - Christie & Eastern Railway - Even though the railroad was not in Vernon Parish, the line furnished Kurthwood a west route through Peason to the KCS Railroad at Sandel, about 16 miles away. The line was abandoned in 1934.
1919 - Leesville, Slagle, & Eastern Railroad - Owned by the White-Grandin Lumber Company, the line connected Leesville with Slagle. The line was abandoned in 1932.
1941 - Camp Claiborne to Camp Polk Railroad - Built by the 711th ROB (Railway Operating Battalion) with the help of the 91st and 93rd Engineer Battalions. Line was 50 miles long with 25 bridges. Some of it was built on the Hillyer-Deutsch-Edwards Railroad bed from Glenmora to LaCamp. The 711th ROB served in Iran during WWII supplying the Soviet Union across the desert.
With the coming of the railroads, Vernon Parish population went from 5,903 in 1890 to 17,384 in 1910, a tripling in twenty years. Many communities sprang up along the KCS, Santa Fe, Louisiana Central, Red River & Gulf, Gulf & Sabine River, and many other railroads (approximately 27 total). From 1897 to the 1930s, at least 40 communities were established along railroad lines, the following list contains nineteen:
Alco - It was named after the Alexandria Lumber Co. It was located on the Red River & Gulf Railroad a few miles east of Kurthwood. The post office opened in 1920 and closed in 1981.
Anacoco (2) - The community first called Orange, was located on the KCS Railroad. The post office opened in 1912 with a population of 90. The community incorporated in 1979.
Aubrey - Also called Dido, the community was on the Santa Fe Railroad east of Pitkin in the southeast corner of the parish. The community post office opened and closed many times between 1886 and 1923.
Barham - Located on the KCS Railroad a few miles south of Hornbeck. the community existed between 1902 and 1931. It was the location of one of three of W. R. Pickering's sawmills with a population of 1,500 in 1906. A short railroad, Louisiana Central Railroad, ran a terminal line west across Toro Creek into Sabine Parish to the Sabine River.
Benasco - Also called Hood, the community was located on the Red River & Gulf Railroad between Longlead and Kurthwood. The post office opened in 1919 and closed in 1925.
Clay (Spur) - There is disagreement on the location. Some records have it on the KCS Railroad 4 miles south of Leesville at Eissman Road while others have it on the Gulf and Sabine Railroad northwest of Fullerton on present-day Ft. Polk.
Cooper - Located on the KCS Railroad north of Pickering, it had a population of 250 in 1898. The post office opened in 1898 and closed in 1911.
Cravens - It was named after W. R. Pickering's daughter-in-law, Zoe Louise Cravens. Located on the Santa Fe Railroad between DeRidder and Pitkin, it had a population of 200 families in 1906. The post office opened in 1906 and closed in 1928.
Drake - Located on the Santa Fe Railroad west of Cravens, the post office opened in 1902 with 100 people and closed in 1904.
Dusenbury - As a turpentine camp, it received a post office in 1920 and lost it in 1922. Some maps have it on the Red River & Gulf Railroad while others have it a few miles south of Alco on Craigerville Loop. As with all turpentine camps, it was all black.
Elmwood - West of Pickering, the community was located on the Gulf & Sabine River Railroad southwest from Stables on the west bank of Castor Creek. The post office opened in 1899 and closed in 1921. The railroad crossed Anacoco Creek and connected the Neame, Carson, & Southern Railroad to Camp Baker at Stables Junction.
Everett - A small sawmill community, it was located on the KCS Railroad halfway between Barham and Anacoco. With 75 people, it received a post office in 1900 and lost it in 1907. Some maps label the community as Lansco and the sawmill was owned by the (Dave) Pate and (William) Everett Lumber Co.
Fal - There is disagreement about Fal. Named after Francis Ann Lutcher, wife of Henry Lutcher, who with Bedell Moore, built the Gulf, Sabine, and Red River Railroad north from Niblett's Bluff to Vernon Parish to transport logs for floating. Lutcher & Moore never owned a mill in Vernon Parish. A second company, Kirby Lumber Co. had a mill at the present-day intersection of LA Hwy. 464 and Fal Road. The community received a post office in 1917 and lost it in 1929.
Fullerton - As a sawmill town, it existed from 1907 to 1927. The Gulf & Sabine River Railroad ran south to the Santa Fe Railroad between Kirbyville and Oakdale, connecting at Nitram.
Herbert - There is disagreement as to the location of Herbert, also known as Savannah. A 1913 map of Vernon Parish has it on the Santa Fe Railroad in the southeast corner of the parish while a US Post Office map has it in east-central Vernon Parish on present-day Ft. Polk. The community received a post office in 1897 with a population of 200 and lost it the following year in 1898.
Hymes/Hymer/Hart - The community known as Hymes/Hymer, while the post office was known as Hart, was located on the KCS Railroad between Hawthorn(e) and Anacoco on the east fork of Anacoco Creek The community received a post office in 1902 with 150 and lost it in 1914. Known as a "mill town", some material list the community as Hymes.
Hornbeck - Hornbeck was named after F. A. Hornbeck, the town developer. It is located on the KCS Railroad just inside northwest Vernon Parish. The community received a post office in 1897 with 150 people and incorporated in 1902.
Hutton - Hutton was on the Red River & Gulf Railroad between Simpson and Kurthwood. As a "sawmill front" town, it received a post office in 1920 and lost it in 1959. Today it is on LA Hwy 465.
Kurthwood - Named after Joseph H. Kurth, the sawmill founder. The founder established the Vernon Parish Lumber Co. The community was once at the terminus of the Red River & Gulf Railroad. It received a post office in 1920, which closed in 1930, and reopened in 1936.
LaCamp - LaCamp had a sawmill owned by the Louisiana Sawmill Co. which was serviced by an unnamed branch line off of the Red River & Gulf Railroad. The community received a post office in 1923 and lost it in 1929.
Leesville - Even though Leesville received a post office in 1873 with 95 people, it didn't grow until 1900 when it had a population of 1,148. The parish seat had three railroads, the Kansas City Southern which ran north-south, the Leesville East & West Railroad which ran east and west, and the Leesville, Slagle, & Eastern Railroad, which ran east. It incorporated in 1900.
Mayo - There's no record of a railroad line to Mayo, yet it had a sawmill owned by Elijah Mayo. Being a few miles from Slagle, it was probably serviced by the Leesville East & West Railroad or the Leesville, Slagle, & Eastern Railroad. The community received a post office in 1899 with 75 people and lost it in 1916, which reopened in 1925. The mill pond can be seen on the northside of LA Hwy. 28 to Alexandria at Mayo Road. The community was also known as O.K.
Neame - It was first called Taylor, then Keith. As a mill town, it received a post office in 1898 with a population of 500, and lost it in 1932. The mill employed 900 workers. It was between Pickering and Rosepine. The community was on the north-south KCS Railroad plus a mill-owned Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad ran west to Camp Baker and east to Cravens.
New Llano - See Stables
Nona - There is disagreement on location. Some maps locate it slightly south of Kurthwood on the Red River & Gulf Railroad, the post office opened in 1909 with a population of 75 and closed in 1921. Other maps locate it on Comrade Creek in northeast Vernon Parish.
Parkville - There is little written about Parkville. It received a post office in 1908 with 300 people and lost it in 1909. It was located close to Fullerton, probably on the Gulf & Sabine River Railroad.
Peason - Peason is in Sabine Parish, but it's a part of Vernon Parish history. It was a lumber town serviced by the Christie and Eastern Railroad which connected with the KCS at Sandel. The Peavy-Wilson Mill operated from 1916 to 1935 with 450 workers and a population of 2,000.
Pickering - Located on the KCS Railroad between Leesville and DeRidder, it was the location of the W. R. Pickering Sawmill. The post office opened in 1899 with a population of 1,200 and closed in 1927. A short railroad, the Louisiana Central, was built east to Cravens.
Pinewood - The sawmill community was located on the KCS Railroad between Neame and Rosepine. The community received a post office in 1912 and lost it in 1922. The mill was owned by the Roberts Lumber Co. which operated from 1910 to 1920.
Rosepine - Rosepine is located on the KCS Railroad in south Vernon Parish between Leesville and DeRidder. It received a post office in 1898 with 75 people which is still open. Rosepine was a community before the railroad. It incorporated in 1902.
Rustville - Rustville is not Russville, as some maps say. It was named after Paul D. Rust, Gulf Lumber Co.'s secretary. It never received a post office. It was a black turpentine camp, as were most turpentine camps, between Fullerton and Nitram (Martin spelled backwards) on the Gulf and Sabine River Railroad. At one time between 1907 and 1927 it had 129 families.
Slagle - Located at the terminus of the Leesville, Slagle, and Eastern Railroad east from Leesville, it was the location of the White Grandin Lumber Co. The post office opened in 1919.
Stables - Named after Thomas Stables, manager of Gulf Lumber Co., it was located on the KCS Railroad south of Leesville. The Gulf and Sabine River Railroad built a small railroad southwest through Elmwood and across Anacoco Creek. The community received a post office in 1905 with a population of 400 and was renamed New Llano in 1917. The community incorporated in 1942.
Stille - Stille was the first Red River & Gulf Railroad stop in Vernon Parish on the eastern edge, 27 miles from Leesville. It received a post office in 1905 with 145 people and lost it in 1924. Today the community is at the intersection of Rhames and VP 640 Roads.
Temple - Temple is in northeast Vernon Parish on LA Hwy 8 northeast of Simpson. Even though some maps have it on the Red River & Gulf Railroad, it was three miles from the main line, probably a section camp with a branch line. It received a post office in 1914.
Tillman - 1910-1924 - Located on the Santa Fe Railroad, it was the location of the Tillman Mill. The post office opened in 1910 with a population of 250 and closed in 1924. It was the last railroad stop in Vernon Parish on some maps or the first stop in Allen Parish on others.
Wingate (1) - Wingate was a KCS Railroad stop between Stables and Cooper, roughly Eissman Road. Also called Clay Spur, the community existed before the railroad. It received a post office in 1896 with 40 people and lost it in 1903.
Wingate (2) - Wingate was a Santa Fe Railroad stop between Markee and Cravens.