Celebrating 100 Years

Mississippi Export Railroad has played a vital role for 100 years in the development and sustainability of businesses along the Gulf Coast region. Throughout the years, the commodities transported have changed, yet Mississippi Export Railroad remains a beacon of strength and stability for its communities, customers, and employees. Moving forward, Mississippi Export Railroad will continue to expand its product and service offering to the global marketplace. ​


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


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


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


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.


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



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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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.



Mississippi Export Railroad, as it is known today, was incorporated in 1922 with the purchase of rail from Pascagoula to Luce Farms. Soon after, the railroad served the paper mill near Moss Point, and eventually facilitated the return of log trains to the rails (after 20 years’ absence from 1909 - 1929).


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.”


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


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.




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


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.



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.


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



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.


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


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.


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


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





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.


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


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.”



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.”


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


The Mississippi Export Railroad celebrates its 90th anniversary.


In recognition of its anniversary, MSE established a scholarship at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast to give back to the coastal community. By offering financial assistance to those pursuing higher education, Mississippi Export Railroad can help them grow and succeed at the premier research university of the Gulf South.


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


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


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


MSE subsidiary, Alabama Export Railroad (ALE) begins operations in Mobile, AL.


American Short Line Railroad Association (ASLRRA) named MSE Maintenance-of-Way Foreman, Cleo Johnson, Jr. Safety Person of the Year.


The Helena Industrial Park certified as a Canadian National Rail Ready Site in the program’s inaugural year.


100 Year Anniversary


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

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