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Celebration inaugurates Rusk Tramway


On this day in 1875, the townspeople of Rusk celebrated the inauguration of the Rusk Transportation Company, commonly called the Rusk Tramway. The town had been bitterly disappointed when the International Railroad Company, completed from Palestine to Jacksonville in 1872, bypassed Rusk. Citizens of Rusk chartered the Rusk Transportation Company in 1874 to build a tram railway from Jacksonville to Rusk. It had a six-ton locomotive, a passenger coach, and three flat cars. But pine rails cut from neighboring forests were substituted for more expensive iron rails and warped frequently, causing regular derailments. The cars had to be lifted back on the rails by crew members and passengers. Often freight thrown off the open cars had to be picked up. The Rusk Tramway was sold at foreclosure for $1,000 in 1879. Although the enterprise was a financial disaster to its promoters, the property rights and franchises were sold to the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company in 1881. Parts of the old tram roadbed were used by that company in constructing its own track between Jacksonville and Rusk.

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