Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Louisiana & Arkansas Railway: The Story of a Regional Line

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Louisiana & Arkansas Railway: The Story of a Regional Line

Article excerpt

The Louisiana & Arkansas Railway: The Story of a Regional Line. By James R. Fair. (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press,1997. Pp. xii, 158. Preface, introduction, illustrations, appendices, notes, works cited, index. $47.95.)

James R. Fair has aptly presented the history of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway by associating it with the three men under whose leadership it began, developed, and prospered: William Edenborn, William Buchanan, and Harvey Couch. The personality of each man, as well as the circumstances of the time in which he lived, shaped both the direction and operation of the railway.

William Edenborn, born in Germany, was not a likely candidate to become an industrial giant. Orphaned at twelve, he became an apprentice in a steel-wire plant. At nineteen, an immigrant in the United States, he continued to work in steel-wire mills. His energy, cleverness, and ingenuity propelled him through the steel-wire and barbed-wire industries. Through business connections, Edenborn became interested in railroads and planned to build his own. Edenborn visited Shreveport, liked it, and decided to establish his future there. Recognizing the need for better transportation to move products to market, he determined that he would build a railroad from Shreveport to the southeast. After chartering the Shreveport and Red River Valley Railway Corporation in 1897, Edenborn planned to build his railroad along the banks of the Red River to Coushatta, forty miles from Shreveport.

In 1903 Edenborn formed a new corporation, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, which bought the Shreveport and Red River Valley Railroad and pushed on, reaching New Orleans in 1906, after many complications.

After Edenborn's death in 1926, his wife sold the LR&N to Harvey Couch of Pine Bluff. Couch had already acquired the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway after William Buchanan died in 1923 and created a system that extended from Hope to Natchez, New Orleans, and Greenville, Texas.

The original Louisiana and Arkansas Railway had come into being through a combination of events in the 1870s and 1880s. …

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