Memphis, Tn. Branch
With the opening of the first bridge spanning the Mississippi River at Memphis in 1892, an arrangement was made with the Iron Mountain to run passenger cars of the St. Louis Southwestern into the city of Memphis from Fair Oaks, Arkansas, over Iron Mountain tracks. This gave the Cotton Belt double daily passenger service between Memphis and Fort Worth without change of cars, and single daily service between Memphis and Gatesville, Texas. Subsequently, traffic arrangements were made with the Iron Mountain for handling Cotton Belt freight traffic over the same route. On May 15, 1900, a traffic agreement was entered into with the Iron Mountain for the joint use of that company's terminals at Memphis, and the Cotton Belt was able to establish its own independent freight and passenger agencies there.
In 1909 the Memphis Union Station Company was organized for the purpose of constructing and operating passenger and freight facilities in that city. The Union Station was opened April 1, 1912. The Cotton Belt, L & N, NC & St.L, Southern and Iron Mountain each owned one-fifth interest in the station and used it jointly. Effective on the date of the opening of the new union station, the Cotton Belt entered into an agreement with the Rock Island for handling of Cotton Belt passenger trains over its line from Brinkley to Briark, Arkansas, across the Mississippi from Memphis.
On January 3, 1912, the Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge and Terminal Company was organized for the purpose of constructing and operating a double-track railway and highway bridge over the Mississippi at Memphis. The construction was authorized by an act of Congress on July 20, 1912 (amended August 23, 1912). Under a contract between the Rock Island, the Iron Mountain and the Cotton Belt, dated May 14, 1913, the execution of which was authorized by the Cotton Belt board of directors in a special meeting April 28, 1913, each of the three companies agreed to subscribe in equal proportions to the capital stock of the new bridge company. J. T. Harahan, for whom the bridge was named, purchased the property for approaches, and construction was placed under the direction of Ralph Modjesk the engineer who had built the Thebes Bridge several years earlier. The new Harahan Bridge was opened for traffic on July 15, 1916.
On March 1, 1920, the Missouri Pacific Railroad served the required twelve months written notice cancelling its contract covering the handling of Cotton Belt freight traffic between Fair Oaks and Memphis. Subsequent conferences were held to negotiate a new agreement on a basis that would permit the Cotton Belt to compete for traffic moving through the Memphis gateway. An equitable agreement was not reached, and negotiations were opened with the Rock Island for the use of its tracks by Cotton Belt freight trains from Brinkley to Memphis, over which Cotton Belt passenger trains had been operated since 1912, and with the Illinois Central for use of its freight terminal facilities at Memphis. A satisfactory agreement was reached on February 28, 1921, and the Cotton Belt was able for the first time to operate its own freight trains, with its own crews, in and out of Memphis.
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