Moreton & Helms   1880-1894

Moreton & Helms Lumber Co.  1894-1907

36" gauge, steel rail

Headquarters: Brookhaven, MS

Mill Location: Cold Springs, MS ( Lincoln County)

Mill Capacity: 65,000 ft/day 

Years of Operation: 1880-1907

Miles Operated: about 30

Locomotives Owned: 6 known




Click Map for Larger Version

History by Gil Hoffman:

In August 1880 Alfred E. Moreton and John J. Helms, both of Brookhaven, began operating a longleaf yellow pine sawmill a mile west of the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad and two miles north of Bogue Chitto. Initially this mill was logged by ox teams. The town that grew up around the mill was called Cold Springs. In 1883 a dry kiln and planing mill were added and another circular sawmill purchased. The newly acquired mill was two miles west of Cold Springs and had been built by W. C. Chamberlain.

In 1886 a 36 inch gauge dummy line was built to log the mill at Cold Springs and to haul finished lumber to the dressed shed on the Illinois Central (successor to the C. St. L. & N. O.). Lumber production in 1886 by the Cold Springs mill was 5,000,000 feet annually. The main items produced were quarter sawn flooring, ceiling, moulding, finishing lumber, car sills and bridge timbers.

The business was incorporated as the Moreton & Helms Lumber Company on January 27, 1894 with $90,000 in paid-in capital stock. The incorporators were A. E. Moreton, his son Sam E. Moreton and Mary A. Helms, widow of John Helms who had died on June 30, 1892. A. E. Moreton became president, Mrs. Helms, vice president and S. E. Moreton, secretary and treasurer.

On January 12, 1899 the Moretons sold their share of the business to Mary Easterling (formerly Helms) and Felix A. May, then Chancery Clerk of Lincoln County. During 1903 most of the stock in the company passed into the hands of Edward P. Denkmann, of Rock Island, Illinois, who then became president of the company. Denkmann had acquired this stock with the help of Ham Easterling, the manager of the mill and husband of Mary Easterling. Afterward, a court suit occurred over the legality of the stock transfer with several years going by before Denkmann was finally declared the legal owner. With the financial losses suffered by the company due to Easterling's mismanagement and with the Panic of 1907, the mill closed for good in November 1907.

During the early 1900's the company operated at succession of three woods camps for its loggers in northeastern Franklin County. The logging railroad eventually reached the Westbrook Creek area, some 25 miles southwest of Cold Springs. In 1905 the sawmill, still a circular type, had a cutting capacity of 65,000 feet per day.

A. E. Moreton was born in Maryland on August 9, 1835 and settled in Brookhaven shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, where he opened a contracting business. During the War he served the Confederacy with the Lawrence Rifles. Afterwards he returned to Brookhaven and resumed his contracting business which he continued even after establishing the partnership with John Helms.

John J. Helms was born in Indiana on February 15, 1850. As a teenager he served with Sherman's army in its march through Georgia. After the war he began his sawmilling career, coming to Brookhaven in 1876 as a sawyer with one of the mills in the vicinity.



















ROSTER by Gil Hoffman: 

1      0-4-2T      Porter 742      3-1886      28      8x14      17500

              Purchased new. Named "L. Q. C. Lamar."

              Transferred to Easterling Lumber Co., Ora, MS, after closing of Cold Springs mill.

2?      0-4-2T      Porter 446      8-1881      40      12x18      40000

Purchased secondhand. In service by 12-1904.

Built as Cincinnati Northern Ry. #5, Cincinnati, OH.

Transferred to Kentwood, Greensburg & Southwestern #12, Kentwood, LA, after closing of Cold Springs mill.

3      4-4-0      Baldwin 6918      8-1883      43      11x16      38000

             Purchased from Louisville, New Orleans & Texas R.R., in 1-1890. Named "Le Flore."

Built as Mobile & North Western R.R. #3 "Le Flore;" to Louisville, New Orleans & Texas R.R., 

              in 10-1889.

Transferred to May-Easterling Lumber Co., Ora, MS, in 1901; to Easterling Lumber Co., Ora, MS,

              on 5-5-1902; to Day Lumber Co., Tangipahoa, LA.

              Baldwin class 8-16 C 42

5      4-6-0      (New York)      (87)      (6-1884)      (42)      (14x20)      (47000)

              Purchased tentatively from Fulton County Narrow Gauge #5, about 1905.

Transferred to Kentwood, Greensburg & Southwestern #10, Kentwood, LA, after closing of Cold Springs mill.

6      2-6-0      Hinkley 1702      3-1887

             Purchased secondhand, about 1898.

Built as Addison & Northern Pennsylvania #6 "Thomas C. Platt," Addison, NY; to Addison & Pennsylvania #6, Addison, NY, in 7-1887; to Baltimore & Lehigh R.R., in 1894?

Transferred to Easterling Lumber Co., Ora, MS, after closing of Cold Springs mill.

9      4-4-0      Baldwin 7146      1-1884      46      14x18      48000

              Purchased secondhand, in 10-1903.

Built as Detroit, Bay City & Alpena #6, Tawas City, MI (38 inch gauge); to Orange Belt Ry. #?, Sanford, FL, by 12-1891, rebuilt to 36 inch gauge in 2-1892; to Sanford & St. Petersburg Ry. #?, Sanford, FL, on 8-13-1893.

Transferred to Kentwood, Greensburg & Southwestern #11, Kentwood, LA, after closing of Cold Springs mill.

             Baldwin class 8-22 C 63






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