of us have a fascination with railroads.
enjoy a steam train ride through the mountains while others opt for a
dinner ride or the panorama of a museum’s collection of rolling stock.
obsolete paper money collectors enjoy collecting notes with vignettes
of trains or locomotives, while still others collect notes issued by
many of America’s antebellum lines.
doing some cataloging work, I ran across a Civil War issue of the
Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Railroad names were often indicative of the
territory encompassed by a particular railroad’s lines, and that
certainly holds true in the case of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad.
chartered in 1848 by the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee,
and Kentucky, the railroad was envisioned as connecting the gulf port
of Mobile, Ala., with the Ohio River near Cairo, Ill. After the Panic
of 1837, the prospect of connecting Mobile with the Midwest via the
Ohio River was quite attractive, since the agricultural bounty of the
Midwest could be moved rapidly by rail.
a sense, this project challenged the traditional trade route of the
Ohio and Mississippi rivers to the port of New Orleans. Unlike many
such projects, this venture was successful. Construction was completed
to Citronelle, Ala., a distance of some 35 miles from Mobile, in 1852
and to Columbus, Ky., an additional 439 miles, by April 22, 1861.
is everything, and the completion of the line to Columbus followed the
beginning of the Civil War by 10 days. The railroad’s strategic
location soon made it the subject of unwanted attention from both
sides during the war, and it had to essentially be reconstructed after
the damage incurred during that struggle.
the usual string of mergers, consolidations and purchases, the Mobile
& Ohio Railroad became part of the Illinois Central Railroad and
ultimately, today, part of the Canadian National system. Who would
have thought that what investors and citizens of Mobile, Ala., began
in 1848 would become part of an international railway encompassing
more than 20,000 miles of track, headquartered in Montreal?
note itself was issued in Macon, Miss. It depicts an old passenger
train and was payable in current funds. Interestingly, the note
indicates that it was receivable for both freight and passage on all
railroads within the state of Mississippi. It is another example of a
small simple note with a great story.
stories do your notes have to tell?
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