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Mobile & Ohio Railroad

The Mobile Road, as it was often called in its early days, was planned by the people of Mobile to serve the city, in the same manner that the Mississippi River had served New Orleans. The railroad was expected to bring the trade of the upper Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Ohio River basins to Mobile. The project was named the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, because it was to connect that city with the great river systems which converged near Cairo, Illinois, and thus the port of Mobile was to assume a much greater role in commercial affairs at the expense of New Orleans.

James H. Lemly

The Mobile & Ohio Railroad -- route of the "Gulf Coast Special" -- was chartered in 1848 by the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee to operate from the seaport of Mobile, Alabama to the Ohio River near Cairo, Illinois. The first section of track opened for service in 1852 between Mobile and Citronelle, Alabama. By 1882, with the purchase of the narrow-gauge St. Louis & Cairo, the M&O reached St. Louis, Missouri. During the Civil War, the line was hotly contested and was converted to military use--a role which left it in financial ruin after the conflict. Nevertheless, in 1896 the company chose to build a line from its Columbus, Mississippi terminal eastward into Alabama. In June of 1898 the Tuscaloosa to Montgomery line opened, along with other short branch lines in the region. After 1902, the road was under the control of the Southern Railway, who operated it until selling its bonds in to parallel north-south operator Gulf, Mobile & Northern. On September 13, 1940, the M&O was merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad to form the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.

1902 system map

1940 timetable

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