Mississippi Railway & Transportation Museum Excursion - 1989
The MRTM equipment arrived in Columbia, MS on 6-4-1989 with the 2-8-0 and the Alco each pulling separate trains of MRTM equipment. It is believed this was the only time the 2-8-0 steamed in Columbia because the flue time expired a few days after arrival. The Alco pulled excursions that summer until the membership "voted" to sell the equipment to the Waccamaw Coast Line Railroad at a meeting held in one of the coaches at Columbia on 4-28-90. It was also announced that the steamer had already been sold "to pay debts."
The equipment was indeed sold to Waccama except the Southern coach 1002 which is now displayed in disrepair at the museum next to the old L&A depot at Winnfield, LA.
MRTM's first activity was a publicity excursion on the Port Bienville RR behind the PBRR 45-ton GE held on 4-28-84. This was reportedly the first passenger train on the PBRR, ever. The steamer arrived (purchased from Birmingham Rail) and was dedicated on 6-16-84. A special guest was Tom Moore, retired president of the Clinchfield RR, who had promoted the restoration of the little 4-6-0 used for excursions on that road in the early 1970s. The 2-8-0 #203 powered the excursion trains until the organization decided to move to Meridian where greater things were hoped for. The 2-8-0 left Port Bienville on 6-3-1989 with all equipment and a loaned Mississippi Export RR caboose. The trip was slow because of the heavy train and poor coal. The train spent the night in Mobile and (with better coal) proceeded up the Gulf & Mississippi to Meridian, where it arrived in the middle of the night 6-4-89. Most of the equipment was left at the old GM&O Whistler shops, just north of Mobile, and the train consisted of the steamer and two or so coaches on the G&M.
The equipment went into storage in downtown Meridian and some work was done on the cars. The hoped-for new home (and track to run on) fell through and a new home was located in Columbia. The equipment went via MidSouth and ICGRR to the CLSL connection at Silver Creek, as mentioned above. The rods were taken off the 2-8-0 for the trip, then re-installed at Silver Creek so the train could be pulled into Columbia with a live engine. This was about the only time that the steamer was hot in Columbia.
The north end of the Columbia & Silver Creek was Silver Creek. The CLSL connected with the Mississippi Central. The track (at the time of this excursion) continued east from Silver Creek into Hattiesburg. Some or all of this is now a hiking trail. The track still exists to the west, to the papermill at Ferguson, Miss. and ultimately to the CN main line at Brookhaven. The MSC track still exists from Brookhaven to Natchez, now the Natchez Railway. I believe all of the CLSL track is gone.