By Eileen Bailey
FULTON – The last five miles of railroad work between Fulton and Amory is nearing completion.
Work on the 22-mile line began in the fall and will be finished within 90 days, said Joan Shell, administration manager for the Mississippian Railway Cooperative.
The renovation will replace older rails with newer 90-pound rail, she said, and crossties will also be replaced. Some of the older rails were installed when the railroad, which ends in Fulton to the north and joins the Burlington Northern Railroad lines in Amory, was first laid.
“We will be replacing all of the 60-pound rail,” Shell said. “It was laid down in about 1923 and we’re still rolling on some of that.”
Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, Shell said. The cooperative, through the Itawamba County Development Council, received $450,000 from the Federal Reserve Administration. It also received $100,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the remaining $200,000 needed to complete the project were borrowed from the Mississippi Department of Transportation in the form of a revolving loan.
The railways are owned by the Itawamba County Development Council but are run by the Mississippian Railroad Cooperative.
During the renovation work, the companies that use the railways have been able to continue sending and receiving goods from Amory. Two of the major users of the lines are Mueller Copper Tube Co. and Tri-State Lumber Co.
These companies use the railways three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Shell said other companies moving into the area also plan to use the railways, such as Ferguson Enterprises, which is one of the nation’s largest distributors of plumbing supplies and industrial pipe, valves and fittings.