Mississippi Ferry Predecessor is Established in 1797
The Terminal Railroad's history actually began well before the founding date of July 30, 1889. The Company's numerous predecessor companies date back to 1797 when the first river ferry was established in the region by Captain James Piggott. Captain Piggott was granted a license to operate a ferry between the Post of St. Louis and Illinoistown (later East St. Louis) when the area was still known as Upper Louisiana, a Spanish colony. The ferry-boat he used was a simple platform floating on hollowed-out tree trunks which was poled, or paddled, with long sweeps. Captain Piggott and his heirs operated the ferry until 1819 when the business was acquired by Mr. Samuel Wiggins.
Wiggins Ferry Becomes a Connecting Point of Eastern and Western
Mr. Wiggins subsequently acquired some 900 acres of land along
the Illinois banks of the Mississippi directly across from present day
St. Louis, Missouri. In 1820, Mr. Wiggins built a ferry-boat that ran on
horse-power. Eight horses were used to turn a horizontal wheel that was
connected to a paddle-wheel which propelled the boat. In 1828, Mr.
Wiggins made use of the first steam ferry-boat named the St. Clair. The
business was sold in 1832 and incorporated as the Wiggins Ferry Company
in 1853. The Wiggins Ferry Company not only operated a ferry business
for individuals wanting to cross the Mississippi, but it also developed
extensive yards, depots, warehouses, railroad tracks and elevators.
Eventually, the Wiggins Ferry Company became a major connecting point
for the many railroads terminating at East St. Louis, Illinois, and St.
Louis, Missouri. As the first bridge spanning the Mississippi River
would not be completed until 1874, the only way to move train traffic
over the river was by ferry car by car. By 1870, the Wiggins Ferry
Company had established a rail-car ferry system, with inclines on both
sides of the river, to move rail traffic over the Mississippi.
TRRA Acquires the Wiggins Ferry Company
At the time of the formation of the Terminal Railroad Association in 1889, the original eight owner railroads owned a substantial interest in the Wiggins Ferry Company. When the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company, the only other stockholder of the Wiggins Ferry Company, was admitted to the Association in 1902, the Terminal Railroad Association gained complete control over the Wiggins Ferry Company.
Predecessor Railroads Bridge the Mississippi
The story of the Wiggins Ferry Company and its eventual possession by the Terminal Railroad Association is very similar to the numerous other mergers that went into the formation of our Company. Predecessor corporations of the present day TRRA constructed the James B. Eads Bridge in 1874, the first bridge over the Mississippi River. Another predecessor company built the Merchants Bridge in 1890, the second crossing of the Mississippi in St. Louis. Another predecessor constructed and operated the railroad tunnels that still stretch beneath present day St. Louis. The histories of these companies, and many others like them, make up the great history of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis.
Original TRRA Owners
The formation of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis grew out of an agreement orchestrated by Mr. Jay Gould in 1889 between predecessor entities of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and six proprietary railroads. The Company was created for the purpose of securing to the various owners an efficient and economical method of interchanging passenger and freight traffic over the Mississippi River. The original railroads making up the Association were the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company, Wabash Railroad Company, the Ohio and Mississippi Railway Company, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, and the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company. Numerous other railroads were subsequently admitted to the Association in later years. These owner railroads, consistent with the entire railroad industry, have grown through mergers and acquisitions over the years. The Company's present-day owners are the Union Pacific Railroad, Burlington Northern and Sante Fe Railway, CSX Transportation, Canadian National Railroad, and Norfolk Southern Corporation.
Today, Terminal Railroad owns and operates the Merchants Bridge, the MacArthur Bridge, a rail switching facility in Madison, Illinois, and several key railroad routes in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois.
The Merchants Bridge is a half-mile long railroad-only bridge over the Mississippi River located just north of the downtown St. Louis area. The Merchants Bridge was completed on March 18, 1890, and remains a vital link in the Company's operations.
The MacArthur Bridge is part of a 6.2 mile long elevated track which crosses the Mississippi River in the heart of the St. Louis downtown area. The MacArthur Bridge and elevated track is the second-longest elevated steel structure across the Mississippi River. The MacArthur Bridge was originally constructed with a road deck over the rail deck; the bridge is currently used for railroad traffic only.
Terminal Railroad acquired the MacArthur Bridge in 1989 from the City of St. Louis in exchange for the title to the James B. Eads Bridge. The Eads Bridge, one of the primary reasons for the Company's original formation, had become obsolete for modern-day rail traffic due to the height restrictions it placed on rail cars. When the City of St. Louis decided to build a light-rail commuter system to link St. Louis with the suburb communities in Illinois, the exchange of the MacArthur Bridge for the Eads Bridge became a reality.
The Company's rail switching yard in Madison, Illinois, is the largest such facility in the region and is the heart of the Company's operations. Approximately 30,000 cars pass through the Company's switching facility on a monthly basis and are re-directed to other destinations. The switching yard consists of eighty in-bound, out-bound, and holding tracks with a capacity of 2,200 cars at any one time. The Company operates 30 locomotives to move cars around the yard, deliver cars to local industries, and ready trains for departure.