The Mingo Swamp lies in a basin created by the shifting ancestral Mississippi River. The abandoned riverbed developed into a fertile swamp, which was interlaced with, sloughs, abandoned channels, and oxbow lakes.
The large cypress and tupelo forests attracted timbering operations, which harvested the timber for railroad ties and for lumber. The T. J. Moss Tie Company was headquartered in nearby Puxico, and at its peak, it was the largest tie contractor in the state of Missouri. The area timber industry achieved its zenith during the 1900-1910 period. By 1935 most of the large operators had move to greener pastures, because most of the prime timber had been cut.
As the operators cleared areas, they wanted to generate additional revenues by draining the swamps to produce arable land. Drainage districts were created to achieve this goal.
By 1914 more than twenty districts existed in Stoddard County. In 1914, more than 20 drainage districts existed in Stoddard County. One of them was the Mingo Drainage District, a small district in the Advance Lowlands near Puxico. More than $1 million was spent to make Mingo Swamp suitable for farming. A system of seven major north-south ditches was constructed to drain water from the swamp into the St. Francis River, about 10 miles south of Puxico. Except for the narrow southern extension of the district south of Puxico, the District's boundary and the Mingo NWR boundary are essentially the same.
The railroads followed the timber operations into the swamps of SEMO, and the railroads were subject to flooding, which was common in this region.
A check of the Southeast Missourian archives, reveals that November 1921 was a wet one, and during that month in the vicinity, of Dale, MO, water covered the rails of the Hoxie Sub by several feet. Perhaps with an eye to raising its dump, or perhaps for collecting data for the Mingo DD, the Frisco conducted this study of the area.
The besides detailing the hydraulic features of the drawing provides a good look at the Hoxie Sub between Mingo and Hodges Ferry. Hodges Ferry was comprised of a single general store/post office, depot, and ferry. The map shows the road, which leads to the landings on either bank of the St Francis. Dale was the site of a large sawmill. The 646’ long spur that comes off the Hunter Branch at Mingo was a loading point for logs, which were floated down Mingo Creek.
E. L. Brand, who got his start with the Drainage Districts, was the man in the field for this study.
Last edited by klrwhizkid; 12-02-2011 at 07:51 PM.
Very nice! Now you're hitting close to the heart of my layout. Mr Moss was a friend of Louis Houck and across the tracks from the Zalma Depot was a Moss Lumber office. I saw it in an old photo and the original Moss building was moved and still stands in Zalma. It's in very poor condition. Mr Moss died very young and unexpectedly. I will model this Moss Lumber store soon for my layout. I will also use a Jordan Products steam shovel mounted on a swamp skiff for a Diversion Channel scene. The Diversion Channel ended at Greenbrier by the way. How handy for me Thanks for the write up!
Last edited by Jim James; 11-25-2011 at 11:52 PM.
The mention of the T. J. Moss Tie Company reminded me of a book that has come down through my family, Handbook of the Trees of the Northern States and Canada by Romeyn Beck Hough. An inspection of its cover shows the logo of the Moss Tie Co. in the center and my grandfather's name, F. J. Lawler, in the lower right-hand corner. My grandfather worked for the Frisco from 1894 to 1946, and retired as a traffic manager, though I'm not sure what kind of job that was. His connection with the Moss Tie Co. is unknown.
The book is unusual in that in addition to the main portion devoted to identifying trees there is an unnumbered appendix which explained the process of how ties were manufactured from choosing the trees to delivery to the railroads. I've included a sample of these pages. The book has a copyright date of 1907 but the section on ties mentions statistics from 1922 so I assume that this (third) edition was published soon after that. The Moss Tie Co. seemed like a big operation by then as it mentioned tie treatment plants in Granville, Wisconsin, Mount Vernon and East St. Louis, Illinois with headquarters in St. Louis.