Colonel Morgan Jones played a major role in the
promotion, development and construction of over 800 miles of rail
lines in the North Central and Panhandle regions of Texas.
was born in Wales, England in1839. By the age of nineteen, he
was working as part of a construction crew for the Cambrian Railway
in South Wales. Jones soon became unsatisfied with the limited
oppurtunities his position held, and migrated to the United States,
arriving in New York in 1866.
in New York, Jones met General Grenville Dodge, a chief engineer
for the Union Pacific Railroad. Construction of the Eastern section
of the new transcontinental railroad was underway, and Morgan
was offered a job by General Dodge with the Union Pacific as foreman
on one of the construction crews. It was during this time that
Morgan Jones and Grenville Dodge would become life long friends.
over three years after Jones arrived in the United States, he
witnessed the driving of the golden spike at Promintory, Utah.
It was the skills he learned working for the Union Pacific that
would benefit him substantially for the remainder of his railroad
the Union Pacific, Morgan went on to work on yet another transcontinental
railroad in the Southern half of the United States, under John
C. Freemont. Jones had recieved a contract from Freemont to build
a line from Texarkana to Jefferson, Texas. It wasn't very long,
and the Southern Transcontinental Railroad soon failed. However,
Morgan managed to keep his crew together and would move on to
In 1871, the
Southern Transcontinetal Railroad was acquired by the newly formed
Texas and Pacific Railroad Company. General Greenville Dodge became
Chief Engineer of the T&P and awarded Jones a new contract. (See
Notes 1) Overcoming considerable odds, including the financial
panic of 1873, rails were laid and the Texas and Pacific reached
Dallas, Texas in 1874. After this project, Jones took a short
break from railroad construction to pursue other ventures.
A couple years
later, Morgan returned to Texas and constructed the final stretch
of the T&P from Eagle Ford to Fort Worth, Texas. This 16 miles
stretxh of track was built in only a few short weeks, and gained
him the reputation as one of the most resepcted railroad builders
in Texas. Had Jones not completed this section of line by the
end of the 1876 session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas and
Pacific would have had its Texas charter revoked. It was by this
heroic effort from Jones, that kept the Texas and Pacific alive.
continue to construct numerous rail lines in Texas, including
portions of what are now a part of the Burlington Northern Santa
Fe. On February 8, 1906, the City of Abilene, Texas chartered
the Abilene & Northern Railway and offered Morgan Jones a $40,000
bonus if the line from Stamford to Abilene was built in a timely
manner. Facing unseasonable weather and heavy rains, witht he
help of his nephew, Percy Jones, they managed to compete the project
in time. Jones would then go on to begin construction on the shortline
he called "The Best Little Railroad I Ever Built"- The Abilene
& Southern Railway Company.
Abilene & Southern
While Morgan Jones was working on the Abilene &
Northern, efforts began on the planning of building a line South
of Abilene through Winters on to Ballinger, Texas. On May 22,
1907, residents of Abilene, Winters and Ballinger met with the
builders of the Abilene and Northern to encourage them to build
aline South from Abilene.
panic of 1907 prevented the Colorado & Southern from backing the
proposal, so it was up to Morgan Jones and Grenville Dodge to
use their own personal finances to complete the A&N line. The
C&S later, finally purchased the A&N and considered extending
through Abilene through Southwest, Texas to Uvalde to connect
with the Southern Pacific. (See Notes 2) ΚΚΚΚ In mid-1908, Morgan
Jones met with the citizens of Abilene and proposed to construct
a line south to Ballinger, to connect with the Gulf Coast and
Santa Fe Railway. In the proposal, Jones included establishing
shops and offices in Abilene, if the community would raise the
neccessary funding to secure the new railroad. Morgans' proposal
was accepted in September 1908, but problems arose in obtaining
the $40,000 needed for start up. However, Jones was willing to
use his own money to build the line if the communities of Abilene,
Winters and Ballinger would provide the right-of-way, land for
depots and shops, and come up with a significant cash bonus for
his efforts. While these negotiations were taking place, Percy
Jones (Morgans' Nephew) was out with survey crews to determine
the route for the A&S. In October 1908, contracts were signed
and right-of-way was secured soon thereafter.
For a short
time, there was some confusion on the name of the railroad. Folks
in Ballinger called it the "Ballinger and Abilene Railroad" while
people in Abilene named it the "Abilene & Southern". But after
a few short months of delay in obtaining additional finances for
construction, the first rail was laid for the "ABILENE & SOUTHERN
RAILWAY" along 2nd Street on January 6, 1909. Oddly enough, construction
had begun on the new line eight days before the line was officially
incorporated on January 13, 1909. Offices and Headquarters were
to be in Abilene as well as the new permanent home for Morgan
9, 1909, the first 2 locomotives arrived for the A&S. Engine #10
was a 4-4-0 Type and Engine #11 was a 2-6-0 Type built by Baldwin
in the late 1800s. These two locomotives, along with some other
rail equipment were used to assist in building of the line from
Abilene southward. Grading crews worked worked diligently about
1 mile ahead f the track gang. A second grading crew worked northward
from Ballinger and met up with the first crew just south of Winters.
rains, the Abilene & Southern crews worked in haste. By July 1909,
track construction had reached Winters, Texas. On July 22, 1909,
a large crowd was on hand to witness the first official train
into Winters. By September 1909, construction of the Abilene &
Southern had been completed. The first train from Abilene to Ballinger
operated on September 10, 1909.
Jones completed the line to Ballinger, he explored other possibilities.
Percy Jones headed northwest with a survey crew in June 1910.
The same grading crew that worked on the section from Ballinger
northward, began work in Anson northwest to Hamlin. Under the
direction of Colonel Morgan Jones, tracks were laid and construction
of the line between Anson and Hamlin was completed on September
depots, and stations were constructed throughout the entire A&S
system. Abilene & Southern trains shared track with the Wichita
Valley Railroad between Abilene northward to Anson. Primary commodities
shipped on the A&S were grain, cotton and other agricultural products.
The Abilene & Southern extension to Hamlin was the very last line
Morgan would ever build. Colonel Morgan Jones died in 1926.
In 1918, the
United States Railroad Administration took over complete control
of the Abilene and Southern. Every department of operations was
transfered over to the Wichita Valley Railroad, with the headquarters
and shops being closed and moved to the WV in Stamford. The Texas
& Pacific handled all of the local business for both the A&S and
In 1927, the
Texas & Pacific purchased controlling interest of the Abilene
& Southern. However, the T&P operated the A&S as a successful
and independent carrier well into the modern era.
In 1937, the
Texas & Pacific filed an application with the Interstate Commerce
Commision (ICC) to abandon the 17.4 mile stretch of track between
Anson and Hamlin. On February 8, 1937 the application was approved
and the tracks were removed.
In 1969, the
Missouri Pacific took over operations of the Texas & Pacific,
but continued to run regular service between Abilene and Ballinger.
Grain and Cotton remained the most significant commodities shipped
on this line.
In 1972, the
Missouri Pacific abandoned the 16 miles of line between Winters
and Ballinger. The rails on this portion of the line were removed.
In 1989, Union
Pacific sold the rights of the line between Abilene and Winters.
All properties including right-of-way, ties, rails and buildings
to the Abilene and Southern Railway properties Inc. in Winters,
Texas. The depot in Winters was torn down and all rails were removed.
7 miles of the original 76 mile Abilene & Southern remains in
service. Union Pacific operates this line as an industrial spur.
The Southwest Switching Service operates about 6 miles between
Abilene and the Pride Oil Refinery. All other shortlines built
by Colonel Morgan Jones have been removed.