MSEHistory

Our small but dynamic Mississippi railroad is fast approaching its’ 100th birthday. We here at the Mississippi Export Railroad (MSE) are proud of our history as a family business dedicated to our employees, safety, business success, the communities we serve and, especially, our customers.

Here is a quick look
at our railroading adventure

1894

On August 18, the Moss Point & Pascagoula Railroad Company obtains a Mississippi state charter.

1895

The MP&P Railroad begins operations between Moss Point and Pascagoula with two locomotives, three passenger cars and four miles of track.

1897

The MP&P is named the smallest railroad operating in the state. It also has a perfect safety record.

1902

The owner of W. Denny & Company, which runs a large sawmill in Moss Point, buys the MP&P because of a rapid increase in business generated inland and extends the line by 38 miles.

1906

A powerful hurricane devastates W. Denney & Company’s timber interests.

1909

In an attempt to save the railroad, W. Denney & Company obtains a common carrier’s license so the line can incorporate passengers, mail and freight as well as lumber. However, competition, losses from the hurricane three years earlier and a declining timber market force W. Denney & Company into bankruptcy.

1912

A Vinegar Bend, Alabama, family, the N. E. Turners, purchases the MP&P Railroad and extends it to their lumber mill. The line now covers 84 miles.

1915

The Moss Point & Pascagoula Railroad is renamed. It is now the Alabama & Mississippi Railroad, although The Turner family still owns it.

1915-1920

As World War I approaches, the Alabama & Mississippi Railroad falls on hard times. It becomes known as the Pine Knot Special because there aren’t enough funds to buy coal. Instead, the firemen stoke the boilers with pine knots picked up along the right-of-way.

1920

After the Turner family applies to the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to discontinue operation of the A&M Railroad, the ICC declares it insolvent, names a receiver and orders the properties to be sold.

1922

Gregory M. Luce purchases the A&M Railroad. The Mississippi Export Railroad (MSE) is born, and a family legacy begins with the great-great-grandfather of the current president and CEO of the Mississippi Export Railroad, Kate Luce.

1935

The Moss Point Advertiser describes the MSE as a “local concern” doing a lot of business and contributing to the community. The railroad, the newspaper reports, supplies services to “cotton gins, canning factories, naval stores, lumber mills, bag factories and ship-building plants.”

1935

J. H. Luce becomes the Mississippi Export Railroad Company’s second president and chairman of the board.

1936

To handle its growing business, the MSE purchases a new locomotive. It’s an 85-ton Baldwin with eight drive wheels. This new workhorse is about 20 tons heavier than any of the others the railroad uses.

1940

As the MSE continues to grow and prosper, it acquires one of Mississippi’s first diesel-electric locomotives.

1941

In the Mississippi Export Railroad Company’s annual report, General Manager W. M. Dutton announces “one of its best years in the history of its operations.” Major businesses begin to build plants close to the rail line, and the MSE’s customer list continues to grow.

1946

The MSE buys the only locomotive produced by Ingalls Shipbuilding. The shipbuilding company has seen its contracts with the U.S. Navy decline, so it tries another path. The Ingalls locomotive might be the only one of its kind, but it survives well beyond its life expectancy.

1950-1959

The MSE adds significantly to its customer list, serving local industry, including International Paper, Menhaden, Thiokol Chemical, Veneer and Puss ‘n Boots Cat Food.

1954

Expansion of Highway 90 begins and will create many positive effects for the MSE and its home county of Jackson. Down South magazine reports that the MSE has been paying an annual dividend for 20 years.

1958

Dwain G. Luce is named as the third president and chairman of the board of the Mississippi Export Railroad Company.

1959

Engineer Pete Cirlot retires after 45 years of serving the MSE. His retirement is the first among locomotive engineers in company history. Many MSE employees stay with the MSE for their entire career.

1961

The Port of Pascagoula grain elevator opens, bringing more positive impacts to the MSE and the surrounding region.

1965

W. M. Dutton, general manager of the MSE for decades, passes away.

1973

The MSE is featured on Charles Kurault’s On the Road, a well-loved CBS television program. The show highlights the “gandy dancers,” repair crews who chant as they straighten railroad tracks using long steel bars. Machines are replacing the gandy dancers.

1974

The National Railway Historical Society publishes a story about the MSE describing a ride on one of its trains.

1975

The MSE is again in the news with a story discussing the progress it has made over the years. The article describes the MSE as having come a long way since it was dubbed the “Miserable Excuse” railroad. Since then, the piece goes on, it has earned the name “Money Earner.”

1982

The Mississippi Press announces the MSE’s 60th year in Jackson County. The paper runs an ad from 1935 touting the MSE’s “dependable service.”

1986

D. Gregory Luce, Jr. becomes the fourth president and chairman of the board of the Mississippi Export Railroad Company.

Late 1990s

The MSE begins work to develop the Helena Industrial Park in Moss Point. The park is a far-sighted effort aimed at fostering economic growth in Jackson County and diversifying the MSE’s own services.

1991

With a banquet aboard its “office car,” the North Carolina, the MSE celebrates the 2,000th train of coal delivered to Mississippi Power’s Plant Daniel in northeast Jackson County.

1996

When confronted with two 300-year-old live oaks blocking a proposed line expansion at its rail yard, the MSE preserves the venerable trees. The tracks are run between the two trees, leaving enough space to avoiding damaging roots.

2009

Kate C. Luce is named as the Mississippi Export Railroad Company’s manager of transportation.

2011

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce selects the MSE to receive one of its annual Anchor Awards to recognize the Mississippi Export Railroad’s outstanding customer service, efficiency and community leadership.

2012

The Mississippi Export Railroad celebrates its 90th anniversary.

2013

Mississippi Export Railroad (MSE) completes construction of their Escatawpa River Barge Terminal.

2016

South Mississippi Industrial Rail Site and Helena Industrial Park re-certified as 'Project Ready'.

2017

Kate C. Luce named President and Chief Executive Officer of Mississippi Export Railroad (MSE)

AND THE STORY HAS JUST BEGUN

Business is better than ever for the MSE. Our commitment to employees, customers and community only grows stronger with each passing day. We invite you to learn more about us.

Welcome aboard