AR, M&WP 3/1/1866 S

Annual Report of the Montgomery & West Point RR
as of March 1, 1866,
Superintendent's Report
 
Superintendent's Report
 
Office of Engineer and Superintendent
Montgomery & West Point Railroad, March 1, 1866
 
To Charles T. Pollard, President:
 
Sir,
   Though unpleasant to recall the closing scenes of the late war, or to revive in our recollection the confusion of social and financial systems always attending such events, yet it becomes necessary to allude to this period, that a clear idea may be had of our more recent operations and present condition.
   The commencement of the last fiscal year found the road in complete and successful operation throughout the entire line. The extraordinary demands made upon it were met by employes with the most active exertions day and night, until the approach of the corps of General Wilson rendered it expedient to withdraw with our whole outfit from Montgomery and confine our operations to the upper portion of the road. This being successfully done on the 12th of April, our trains continued to run from that date, gradually contracting their line on the approach of the federal forces, until the capture of West Point and Columbus, and the destruction of our entire rolling stock, which had been equally divided between these points under the vain hope of saving one-half of it, finally closed our operations on the 16th of April, and left us without cars, locomotives, bridges, or depots.
   As soon as the withdrawal of the federal forces rendered it possible, I proceeded to West Point with a view of making such dispositions as would secure the preservation of the property left, and most speedily enable us to resume active operations.
   It was no easy task, surrounded by the blackened walls of buildings, and amid the smoking debris of a hundred loaded cars, to select or even distinguish what belonged to the company; but out of this confused mass, fragments of cars and locomotives, parts of rolling mills and printing presses, arsenals and arms, the most valuable portions of our property were cared for, and my attention was next directed to rebuilding bridges and repairing such engines as could most quickly be put in running order. Fortunately the engine John Caldwell, with five flat cars attached, which had formed the train last in service on the morning of the 16th of April, and was more remote from the depot than any other train, had sustained but comparatively slight injury, and was soon put in condition to work down to Osenappa creek, seven miles fro West Point.
   From this stream to the Ufoupee, a distance of 39 miles, there was a continuous and unbroken line of road, with sufficient timber scattered here and there to rebuild the Osenappa; the question was how to transport it.
   It was with great doubt, and only as a last resort, that I could entertain the belief that the engine Abner McGehee, which was on this portion of the road, could help us in our distress. Purchased 27 years ago, it was an engine which had already served nearly three times the period allotted to such machines; no longer reckoned among our living engines, it had long since been laid in the grave of our reports, and, abandoned by my orders at Steam Mill, it had been passed by the federals as of too little value to merit even destruction.
   In this emergency, however, after a week's repairs, it was brought into service and seemed to recover some of the power of former years. Like it honored namesake, though going forward with great facility, it went backward with as much reluctance; still, like him, it was equal to all the requirements demanded, and -- attached to a couple of cars, hastily repaired, which had run off the track at Loachapoka, and had escaped destruction -- it was our sole reliance for furnishing material and supplies for the work at Osenappa, and it continued in service until the day of the completion of the bridge at that point, when, as if its work were done, by the bursting of a tire it became utterly useless, and was laid up, never again probably to be called into action.
   *****
   Roadway. The impossibility of procuring, during the last four years, the quantity of timber necessary to compensate for the annual decay, rendered an unusual expenditure for this purpose indispensable. *****
   The turn-table at West Point has been placed in amore convenient position, and those formerly at Loachapoka and Chehaw removed to Girard and Shorter's.
   Iron. With the exception of about one-half mile of T rail track near Auburn, we now have on the line 25 miles of flange bar, beginning near Harrison's water station, 3 1/2 miles south of Auburn, and extending to West Point, together with four mile of the same rail near Franklin. This rail has been regularly reported as worn out, and at present not much more can be said in regard to it. in consequence of more labor and material being expended on this track, and the passage of a light tonnage over it the past year, it now presents a better condition than its extreme age would seem to warrant.
   The state of the flange rail on the Opelika branch presents no peculiar points deserving of mention.
   The T rail track, however, from Harrison's down to the 20th mile-post above Montgomery begins to show signs of wear, and requires the immediate renewal of 1033 bars, of an aggregate length of 23,507 feet.
   The rail from the 20th mile post to Montgomery is much worn, and that portion between Six Mile station and Montgomery is so badly worn that immediate renewal to a great extent is necessary. An accurate account of bars that are worn out between the 20th mile post and Montgomery shows the number to be 955, of an aggregate length of 20,685 feet, and the same examination shows that 85 bars, or 2,040 feet in length, must also be had to replace worn-out rails between Osenappa creek and West Point.
   To recapitulate, it appears that 2,073 bars, of an aggregate length of 46,232 feet, equal to about 4 38/100 miles of track, are required for renewing worn-out bars. This iron should be laid down at once, as the existence of scaled bars causes flat wheels, which again in their turn cause more bars to scale up, and a fearfully increasing expense is incurred which all dictates of policy forbid.
   It would be in accordance with our traditional policy to provide new rails for renewal in addition to those just shown to be necessary, and I recommend the purchase of 1,500 tons, which would enable us, in addition to renewal of T rail bars, to relay about 14 1/4 miles of our flange track, and by gradually rerolling the bars taken up, we could, in a reasonable time, complete the T rail through to West Point.
   *****
   The following tabular statement exhibits the number and condition of our cars:
  Box cars Flat cars Stock cars Cab cars Passenger Baggage Mail Express Ditching 2nd class Passenger Coal
On hand March 1, 1865 73 48 4 12 15 4 6 0 13 1 10
Destroyed 68 41 3 11 15 3 6 0 13 1 10
On hand April 16, 1865 5 7 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0  
*****                      
   *****
Depots, shops, &c. The machine shop, blacksmith shop, the round-house, the car factory, the freight depots and sheds, with adjacent platforms, the oil house and storeroom, and the passenger depot at Montgomery, were all destroyed, and nothing remained on our extensive grounds but the paint shop and foundry, standing alone amid the ruins of all these buildings.
   *****
   The water-tanks at Six Mile station, Hickory Bend, Notasulga and Opelika, destroyed by federal forces, have been rebuilt, and are now in use. Those at Rough and Ready and Cusseta, also destroyed, have not been rebuilt, but a new one established at Wild Cat, five miles fro Opelika, will be sufficient for our present business.
   The depot at Mount Meigs, a cheap and unimportant structure, was destroyed, and has not been rebuilt.
   At Cliett's, the entire depot arrangements were destroyed. *****
   At Notasulga the depot escaped destruction.
   At Opelika the depot was destroyed, but has been rebuilt, and in use since September.
   The depot at Rough and Ready was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1863, and has never been rebuilt, nor do I believe that the business at that point will warrant an expenditure for its renewal.
   *****
   The passenger depot at West Point, owned by this and the Atlanta & West Point Railroad Company, escaped injury, but the freight depot was entirely destroyed, and is now being rebuilt in a substantial manner.
   The depots between Opelika and Columbus were unharmed, but all the depot property at the latter place was entirely destroyed. A temporary depot has been erected at Girard, which will be sufficient for the business until the completion of the bridge across the Chattahoochee.
   ***** The narrow gauge, which had during four years of fearful war prevented its outfit from being scattered throughout the southern States, proved in the end to be the certain means of its destruction.
   *****
Respectfully submitted:
Dan'l H. Cram
Engineer and Superintendent

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