[N.p., likely Chicago. 1882-1944]. 190pp. Folio. Contemporary black pebbled cloth boards with later red leather corners and backstrip, gilt title on front board. Endpapers renewed. Minor rubbing and soiling to boards. Light thumb-soiling to text. Very good. Item #WRCAM55833
An extensive and informative company ledger listing the assets, properties, profits, losses, and other business activities of the Canton, Aberdeen & Nashville Railroad (a subsidiary of the Illinois Central based in Chicago), maintained over a period of more than sixty years. This ledger offers a rare glimpse into the economics of the railroad industry in the American South over a vast period of development, from the immediate post-Reconstruction era to the requirements of the American war effort during World War II.
The Canton, Aberdeen & Nashville Railroad was incorporated on February 17, 1882 as a subsidiary of the Illinois Central to acquire the branch already built in 1874 from Durant to Kosciusko, Mississippi and extend it to Aberdeen and eventually to Nashville, Tennessee. The line was completed as far as Aberdeen in 1888. A short disconnected section was also built from Winfield to Brilliant, Alabama to serve several coal mines. The railway was officially dissolved and absorbed into the Illinois Central Railroad on August 21, 1953. The current ledger records company activity for the great majority of the life of the Canton, Aberdeen & Nashville Railroad.
The ledger begins in December 1882, the year of incorporation of the railroad, and is written in at least five distinct but highly readable hands. The early pages detail the "permanent expenditures" such as stock commitments, construction costs, equipment, and interest; the construction costs are broken out into thirty-three line items including bridges, cross ties, grading, iron rails, right of way, section houses, stationery (almost $50,000 worth), telegraph lines, water stations, and much more. This is followed by earnings statements, profit and loss reports, land costs, mortgages, additional permanent expenditures, "sundries" to the Illinois Central and capital stock, officers' and clerks' salaries, bond payments, advertising costs, and other types of regularly-reported accounting through December 1944. Railroad accounting here is often reported as "Gross Receipts" balanced against "Operation Expenses" every quarter or six months, and is later encapsulated as periodic "Additions and Betterments" and "Profit and Loss" statements in the latter two decades of the ledger.
As the 20th century proceeds, the ledger records business transactions between the Illinois Central and the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans Railroad. The latter was based in Kentucky, but was also working to build railroad lines in Mississippi and Tennessee during this time. The Illinois Central apparently made occasional "capital advances" to the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans starting in 1913, which the latter then repaid in December 1919. The Illinois Central continued to make capital advances to the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans throughout the time period recorded here. The Illinois Central would buy the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans outright in 1951, absorbing its operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
Other activities beyond the normal operations of the company include additional tracks and rail services provided to mining and manufacturing companies in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In December 1939 the Illinois Central agreed to construct "tracks to industry" located on property belonging to the American Colloid Company in Aberdeen, Mississippi. The American Colloid Company appears to have been mining bentonite in Aberdeen, and was in need of spur tracks to move their product to market or perhaps manufacturing plants. The Illinois Central also constructed further "tracks to industries" in December 1941, namely to the Nickles Lumber Company in Aberdeen and Moeller & Vandenboom (also a lumber company) in Ethel, Mississippi. Depreciation, "retirement or abandonment of nondepreciable property," "service value of nondepreciable" retired property and other "property retirements" occupy the latter few pages of the ledger.
A dense and useful record of a southern railway's business activities for over half a century. Records for railroads operating in the American South are scarce, especially for such a vast span of time.