Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Other Bridges in Ocean Springs

 

CSX (L&N) Railroad Bridge

 

 

             L&N Railroad Bridge          

(image made October 2, 1893)

 

 

post-Katrina CSX Railroad Bridge

(images made September 2005)

 

Some railroad history

            On October 29, 1870, the New Orleans, Mobile, & Chattanooga Railroad, which was chartered in 1866, completed the line between Mobile and New Orleans.  Rail service commenced on November 21, 1870.  The N.O.M. & C. was reorganized on April 18, 1871 and became the New Orleans, Mobile & Texas Railroad.  The L&N Railroad leased the property of the N.O.M. & T. on May 8, 1880.  On October 5, 1881, the L&N Railroad purchased all the assets of the reorganized New Orleans, Mobile, & Texas Railroad for $6,000,000.  This acquisition included the Ponchartrain Railroad which ran seven mile from New Orleans to Milneburg on Lake Ponchartrain, and the one hundred forty-one miles of track, depots, the creosote plant at West Pascagoula (Gautier), stations, station houses, section houses, rolling stock, etc. between Mobile and New Orleans.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 299) 

In the spring of 1919, the L&N Railroad announced that a new railroad bridge would be erected across Biloxi Bay about fifty feet from the existing span.(The Daily Herald, April 11, 1919, p. 1)   

In late September 1922, Henry Ryan (1899-1947), bridge tender, discovered that the L&N Railroad Bridge was on fire.  Help arrived in time to save the structure.(The Daily Herald, October 2, 1922, p. 1)

 

           In April the Mississippi Public Service Commission accepted the L&N Railroad’s request to close their Ocean Springs depot.(The Ocean Springs News, April 15, 1965, p. 1)

 

 

In December 1982, the L&N Railroad merged with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and the name of the combined corporations became the Seaboard Systems Railroad, Inc.  On July 1, 1986, the Seaboard Systems Railroad, Inc. changed its name to CSX Transportation, Inc.

 

2000 fire

On January 22, 2000 the railroad crossties on the swing span caught fire.  The fire was contained by responding units from the Coast Guard at Gulfport; Marine Patrol, Sea Tow, and the CSX Railroad.  These vessels were not equipped with sufficient pumping capacity to kill the fire.  Later Fire personnel from Ocean Springs and a Coast Guard vessel from Pascagoula arrived with special floating fire pumps.  With these teams working on opposite sides of the span, the conflagration was extinguished in approximately two hours.  Precipitation fell during the blaze.  Immediately CSX crews began to repair the bridge for rail service.  Both marine and rail service were prohibited from crossing the span until it was deemed safely repaired and inspected.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 27, 2000, p. 1 and The Sun Herald, January 23, 2000)

 

Katrina

Unlike the US 90 Highway Bridge across Biloxi Bay and the 1930 War Memorial Bridge, utilized as a fishing pier since 1962, the CSX Railroad survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.  All of the tracks were washed or floated off the structure.  In September 2005 derrick barges with the guidance of scuba divers were lifting the track from the bottom of Biloxi Bay and placing them on the road bed of the bridge. The rail line between Mobile and New Orleans suffered about $250,000,000 in damage and the CSX expected the repairs to take about six months.

 

Other small bridges

 

Davis Bayou Bridge

     New bridge opened on November 12, 1993.  It is 285-feet long and cost $180,000.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 17, 1994, p. 1)

 

Heron Bayou Bridge

    New bridge opened in March 1994.  It is 190 feet in length and cost $106,000.(The Ocean Springs Record, March 17, 1994, p. 1)

 

REFERENCES:

 

The Daily Herald, "New Draw-Bridge In Jackson County", April 11, 1919, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, "Fire discovered in time to save L&N Railroad Bridge", October 2, 1922.

The Ocean Springs News, April 15, 1965, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Heron Bayou bridge opens to traffic", March 17, 1994, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record, "Firefighters extinguish bridge blaze", January 27, 2000.

The Ocean Springs Record, “Bridges may be fixed in 60 days", July 24, 2003, p. A1.

The Sun Herald, "CSX bridge burns", January 23, 2000, p. A1.