bhs_state Using the branch, Tatum would be able to gain access to a new logging operation near Denco, Mississippi and transport lumber from Bonhomie, where he owned a sawmill, to the GM&O junction at Beaumont and connections eastward. The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the sale on January 5, 1925, and the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern Railway went into operation less than a month later. The entire capital stock of $335,000 was sold to the Tatum family, and all equipment for the railroad was leased from the Tatum Lumber Company -- including five locomotives, three of which were new Baldwin acquisitions.

The modest B&HS showed a profit for several years, but eventually slipped into financial deficit as its profit from lumber traffic declined. Tatum's logging operation near Denco ended when the GM&O abandoned its Blodgett Branch, a dummy line from Denco to Piave, Mississippi. In 1953 Tatum sold the then unprofitable B&HS to the Fernwood, Columbia, & Gulf Railway. The pike was well known in the 1950's and early '60's for continuing to operate the line with Baldwin steam locomotives 250 and 300. These two movers continued to operate until October 1961, when they were replaced with a pair of used SW1 switchers after the passing of the line's steam master mechanic. The B&HS, along with sister line FC&G, was included in the Illinois Central Gulf merger in 1972. The former B&HS trackage survives today as part of ICG-successor Canadian National's route from Jackson to Mobile.


bhs_art The Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern rocks a profitable train of high cars across a wooden trestle near New Augusta, Mississippi, en route to is Gulf, Mobile & Ohio connection at Beaumont. The Bonhomie of this short-line's corporate title does not exist on the map of its operations, and its thirty miles of right of way are under the same management as the neighboring Fernwood, Columbia & Gulf, which owns forty-four miles of track. Their joint insertion in The Office Guide advises shippers: "Save Time and Money by Missing Bedlam and Confusion."

Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg, The Age of Steam, 1957


Hattiesburg railroad map / Tony Howe


BHS route map / Mississippi Rails

Baldwin #200

Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern #200

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:4-4-0 American
  • built:Mar 1925, Baldwin #58268
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • 17x24" cylinders, 62" drivers
  • purchased new via Tatum Lumber Co
    scrapped, 1953
  • Baldwin #250

    Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern #250

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:2-6-2 Prairie
  • built:June 1926, Baldwin #59239
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • 20x24" cylinders, 52" drivers
  • purchased new by B&HS
    to Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern, 1963
    on display at Edaville Railroad, Ma
  • journal_rwh

    Especially in the lean years, many a steam-era shortline relied upon home-spun practices and simple shortcuts for keeping costs down and still getting the job done. In the spring of 1961, dad uncovered a wonderful little slice of Deep South shortline lore while chasing #250 through New Augusta, Mississippi (pictured here).

    Turns out it was common practice for the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern crew to roll into the little village of New Augusta, bring their train to a stop, and send the brakeman into the local mom & pop grocery store situated near the tracks. If there was switching work to be done, or new train orders to convey, it was the procedure of the B&HS main office in Hattiesburg to call down on the phone to Miss So-and-so, proprietor of said grocery store, and have her write the information down for the passing crew.

    Surely this communication system was an integral component of the little railroad's famous pledge to help shippers "avoid any bedlam and confusion." This, plus one imagines that from time to time the crew took advantage of the pause to supplement their lunches.


    wks250 Baldwin 2-6-2 steam locomotive #250, built in 1926, is long gone from the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad. The WK&S acquired locomotive #250 late in 1963 from the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern Railroad in Mississippi. The locomotive arrived in time to pull some trains before the end of the 1963 operating season. The B&HS was the original and sole owner of the locomotive up to that time. On its way to the WK&S, #250 rode a ship between Louisiana and New Jersey. Relatively speaking, #250 was a small engine. Yet it proved too big, expensive and complex for the diminutive WK&S. The locomotive was a popular attraction and an impressive sight, but was sold off when a cash strapped WK&S faced financial reorganization in the early 1970's. Locomotive #250 was the last piece of equipment to have left the WK&S by rail. The track south of N. Albany was scrapped soon thereafter. After leaving the WK&S, #250 went to the Strasburg Railroad for re-tubing and then to the Wolfeboro Railroad in New Hampshire. The locomotive's next owner was the Hobo Railroad also in New Hampshire. The locomotive currently resides at Edaville USA in Carver, Massachusetts. The locomotive has been cosmetically restored, but as far as I know, hasn't run since leaving the Wolfeboro Railroad.

    Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern fan page

    Baldwin #300


    Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern's cap stacked 2-8-2 was, in proper perspective, a machine with which to move material for profit. Viewing it this way was not always that simple. Anyone with any emotion at all recognized this train in its rural Mississippi rounds as making for a deucedly pretty picture.

    John Krause, Rails Through Dixie

    Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern #300

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • arrangement:2-8-2 Mikado
  • built:Feb 1925, Baldwin #58241
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • 19x26" cylinders, 52" drivers
  • purchased new by B&HS
    retired, Oct 1961
    on display, Hattiesburg MS
  • Click to see the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern #300 display site plotted on a Google Maps page

    tag_spot Baldwin Sisters


    In looking back over these images again with me, my father recalled how every time he stopped by the B&HS engine house during the late 1950s and early 60s, there was always a handful of railfans hanging around the place with cameras. Dad said, "No one ever said it, but it was as if we all knew this kind of thing could not go on forever." That thing was, of course, that handsome pair of Baldwins still under steam and still plying the rails. It did not go on forever, which is why we younger railfans are indebted to images such as these terrific 120 negatives taken by my father in Hattiesburg in the spring of 1961.

    Rolling Stock


    B&HS bad order card / collection

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-07-21