Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bossier City's First Railroad

Photo of wagons crossing the VS&P bridge entering Bossier City, c.1900.
Neill Yarborough Collection: 2006.034.018
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad which is the connection of the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific Railroad spanning from the east coast to the west coast. This major accomplishment was completed in 1869, however, it was 1884 before Cane’s Landing (now Bossier City) received its first railroad the Vicksburg, Shreveport, & Pacific (VS&P) Railway.

The VS&P was building their railroad in 1882 from Monroe to Shreveport when they approached Caddo and Bossier Parishes about assisting them in bridging the Red River. The parishes agreed to help. They also decided to floor the bridge with thick timbers to allow for wagon and pedestrian traffic and charge a toll which would, over time, offset the cost of building the bridge. For the first time, people would be able to cross the Red River from Cane’s Landing to Shreveport without taking a ferry. The VS&P eliminated the Sterling White ferry boat, which had been the only mode of crossing the river at that juncture.

In the summer of 1882, Mr. Peter Scully of St. Louis arrived in Shreveport to prepare to start building the VS&P bridge. He was contracted to construct the piers of the VS&P railway bridge. Mr. P. C. Livingston was contracted for the setting of the stone and the brickwork on the piers. Livingston was an experienced builder and brickmaker of Monroe, La and made all the bricks for the bridge at Monroe. Mr. W. E. Crume was the engineer of the VS&P railroad track with Major T. G. Dabney serving as the chief assistant engineer.

Over 1300 tons of steel were used in laying the tracks and building all sidings from Monroe to Shreveport. The tracks were laid at the rate of over one-mile per day. Convicts completed much of the grading work under the supervision of Captain Sanchez and Captain Husted. In addition to the convicts, there were over one hundred hands hired to work on the railroad. The VS&P provided service running east to Jackson, Ms and Savannah, Ga.

On May 8, 1884, the VS&P crossed Dorcheat Bayou and began laying tracks in Bossier Parish and was approaching Lawrenceville (now Haughton) on May 23. The VS&P bridge crossing the Red River, just north of Horseshoe Casino, was completed on July 1, and the railroad was within two miles of Shreveport on July 7. At last, at 4:30 pm on July 12, 1884, the last spike was driven completing the VS&P Railroad.

On July 17, 1884, The Bossier Banner announced the completion of the VS&P railroad from Monroe to Shreveport hailing it “The grandest event in the history of Bossier Parish!!!” and stating, “After many years of anxious, patient waiting, the Iron Horse has come at last, and we greet its arrival with great rejoicing.” What had started over thirty years earlier was finally complete.

The old VS&P is currently used by the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway Company.

To learn more about the railroads in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries
History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

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