St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway

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St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico
Gulf Coast Lines herald.jpg
Gulf Coast Lines system map.jpg
Gulf Coast Lines system map, circa 1920
Reporting mark StLB&M, SLBM, SBM
Locale Texas
Dates of operation 6 June 1903–1 March 1956
Successor Missouri Pacific
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Kingsville, Texas

Chartered on June 6, 1903, the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway (also known as the Brownie) was a 200 mile (321 km) railroad that operated from Brownsville, Texas to Gulf Coast Junction in Houston, Texas. It served numerous towns and cities along its routes and operated a rail bridge south of Laredo, Texas, in junction with the Mexican government. The Brownie connected the citizens of Brownsville to nearby Corpus Christi for the first time on land rather than using water transportation.

Early history[edit]

After Uriah Lott's success with his first railroad project, the Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad in March 1875, he envisioned a plan of creating land transportation along the southern interior of Texas. Uriah collaborated with business partner Benjamin Franklin Yoakum to create a large rail system that reached from Chicago, Illinois, in the north and Mexico City, Mexico, to the south. To put this plan into effect, Yoakum used control from one of his two railroads he was president from - the St. Louis - San Francisco - to create several railroads within Texas and Louisiana as a system. Known as the Gulf Coast Lines, the system was created in three phases under three different railroads: The St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico (Phase 1 - June 1903), the Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western (Phase 2 - October 1903) and the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway (Phase 3 - September 1909).

In April 1904, the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico took delivery of their first three new locomotives: Burnham, Williams & Co. 4-4-0s #925, 926 & 927. Shortly after the arrival of the locomotives, the first segment of track was completed on July 4, 1904, which reached Brownsville, Texas, from its starting point in Robstown, Texas. On December 31, 1907, the second (and last) major segment of track on the Brownie was completed to Houston from its starting point in Robstown and reaching Sinton as well.

To further expand the southern portions of the Robstown-Brownsville route, the StLB&M acquired the financially troubled San Antonio, Chapin & Rio Grande Railway as well as the San Benito & Rio Grande Valley Railway; one of the earliest expansions of the Rio Grande Valley Spider Web Rail Network which linked various small to large cities together.

Gulf Coast Lines era[edit]

In 1913, Yoakum and Lott's dream came to an end when the St. Louis - San Francisco entered receivership. Upon hearings of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the court ordered the receivers to sell off all of Yoakum's rail projects to recover from lost profits or face entire abandonment. In 1916, the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway assumed control of the Gulf Coast Lines and established itself as an independent railway company until 1924.

Under the Gulf Coast Lines ownership of the StLB&M, the railway saw no new purchases of rolling stock or locomotives. The last new rail line was completed in 1920 from Brownsville to Southmost, Texas.

Missouri Pacific era[edit]

Under the presidency of Lewis W. Baldwin of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the Gulf Coast Lines were acquired in December 1924 and renamed as the Gulf Coast Lines Division. This acquisition now gave the Missouri Pacific access to the southern portions of Texas in competition with the Southern Pacific Railroad and its Atlantic Lines Division.

To further expand the Spider Web Rail Network in the Rio Grande Valley, the Missouri Pacific acquired the Rio Grande City Railway under the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railroad in 1926. The final acquisition for the Spider Web Rail Network came in 1941 when the former narrow gauged Port Isabel & Rio Grande Valley railway was acquired by the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico.

Unfortunately, the Missouri Pacific declared bankruptcy in 1933 and entered into trusteeship. During the MP/Trusteeship era, the STLB&M continued to modernize and expand. The last new steam locomotive delivered to the StLB&M was Lima 0-8-0 #9766 in 1929. The StLB&M took delivery of its first new diesel-electric locomotive: General Electric 44 Ton #813 in January 1942. The last new diesel-electric locomotive to arrive on the StLB&M was Baldwin AS-16 #4331 in July 1954.

After 13 years of trusteeship - the longest of its kind in North American history - the StLB&M (as well as the other Gulf Coast Lines subsidiaries) were reorganized and merged away into the Missouri Pacific (under the presidency of Paul J. Neff) on March 1, 1956, when the United States District Court of St. Louis terminated the trusteeship. Shortly after the merger did the name of 'StLB&M' and 'Gulf Coast Lines' quickly disappear and various feeder/branch lines were aggressively being abandoned.

Motive power equipment[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

The StLB&M purchased various lightweight locomotives to serve main lines, branch lines and various feeder lines along the system.

Under the Yoakum era, the steam locomotives were lettered "ST. LOUIS BROWNSVILLE & MEXICO" along the upper section of the tender and the reporting marks were applied on the cab.

Under the Gulf Coast Lines era, the steam locomotives were lettered "GULF COAST LINES" along the upper section of the tender, but the railroad's reporting marks below the locomotive's roadnumber on the cab.

Under the Missouri Pacific era, the steam locomotives were lettered "MISSOURI PACIFIC LINES" along the upper section of the tender, but the railroad's reporting marks were applied below the locomotive's roadnumber on the cab and on the steam dome.

St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Steam Roster
Builder Date Locomotive Model Quantity Road numbers Notes
Burnham, Williams & Co. April 1904 – December 1905 4-4-0 16 925 – 927, 6 – 11, 910 – 912 & 952 – 955 925 – 927 are the first steam locomotives delivered
Baldwin Locomotive Works June 1905 – December 1907 4-6-0 12 251 – 262
Baldwin Locomotive Works 1905 0-6-0 3 9580 – 9582
Baldwin Locomotive Works August 1914 2-8-0 20 81 – 100 #100 is the last new steam locomotive delivered before Gulf Coast Lines era
Alco-Brooks Locomotive Works 1926 2-8-2 20 1111–1120 #1111 is the first new steam locomotive delivered in the Missouri Pacific era. 1111-1118 were oil burners while 1119-1120 were lignite fired
Alco-Brooks Locomotive Works 1927 4-6-2 6 1156–1161
Alco-Richmond Locomotive Works 1927 0-8-0 5 9601 – 9605
Lima Locomotive Works 1927 0-8-0 3 9761 – 9762, 9766 #9766 is the last new steam locomotive

Diesel-Electric Locomotives[edit]

Since the Brownie had various branch lines and feeder lines (especially within the Rio Grande Valley) among its system, the Missouri Pacific purchased various lightweight diesel locomotives and switchers to operate where heavy diesel or steam locomotives were not permitted. Only the Electro Motive Division E and F units were used in passenger service along the Brownsville - Houston route.

St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Diesel Roster
Builder Date Locomotive Model Quantity Road numbers Notes
General Electric January – February 1942 44 Tonner 2 813 – 814 #813 is the first new diesel-electric locomotive
Baldwin Locomotive Works March 1944 – May 1946 VO-1000 5 9153 – 9155, 9160 – 9161
Electro Motive Division March 1947 E7A 2 7008 – 7009 The only six axle diesel-electric locomotives on the roster
Electro Motive Division November 1947 – June 1948 F3A 24 529 – 552
Baldwin Locomotive Works February – March 1949, March 1950 DRS4-4-1500 6 4112 – 4115, 9148 – 9149
Baldwin Locomotive Works March – April 1949 DS4-4-1000 6 9162 – 9167
Electro Motive Division October 1949, April 1950 F7A 10 607 – 614, 615 – 616
Electro Motive Division July 1950 – April 1954 GP7 28 4116 – 4120, 4159 – 4165, 4203 – 4207, 4249 – 4253, 4284 – 4286, 4298, 4323 – 4324
Electro Motive Division April 1951 SW9 5 9187 – 9191
Baldwin Locomotive Works April 1952 S12 3 9227 – 9229
Baldwin Locomotive Works June – July 1954 AS-16 6 4326 - 4331 #4331 is the last new locomotive delivered to the StLB&M

References[edit]