Collection: Jeannie Moore Smith
Scanned by James Whitlow
The Mule Drawn Streetcar Line
There have been several pictures previously posted of the Walnut Ridge-Hoxie Electric Streetcar that began service in July of 1904, but the two towns were connected via an earlier mode of transport for 15 years prior.
The Walnut Ridge and Hoxie Street Car Line was incorporated 25 June 1889 in Walnut Ridge. According to the Articles of Incorporation several businessmen joined to “equip and operate a line of street cars to be propelled by horse power from and between and through the towns of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie.”
The original Corporators, with a combined capital stock of $5,000 ($25 individual shares) were: W.M. Ponder, J.M. Phelps, P.B. Hill, Herman Arndt, Isaac Less, M.V. Camp, J.K. Gibson, F.G Williams, Z.C. Phelps, George Thornburgh, R.M. McDonald, F. Westphall, H.H. Peters, C. Bloom, S. Marx, Sexton and Andrews, S. Ruffner, and T.J. Sharum.
Elected directors and officers in their first meeting in Graff Hall, were W.M. Ponder, President; J.M. Phelps, Vice President; George Thornburgh, Secretary; P.B. Hill, Treasurer; and additional directors of Herman Arndt and S. Ruffner.
By July of 1890, only one year later, John A. Rhea had bought out the majority of the original stockholders, and owned 75% of the company.
We are not sure what the fare was in 1889 to make the ride, but by 1904 it was 10 cents. However, after July 1, 1904, when the electric streetcar was put into service, the Mule Car Line dropped their rate to one penny to compete. According to a 1905 issue of “The Blade” newspaper, the Mule Car Line was immediately a novelty, becoming the cheapest car line in the world at the time.
From an article in the “Times Dispatch” newspaper, some of the men in the picture were identified as follows:
“The man standing by the animal is Walter Griffin. The third man from left was named Culver and was a lumberman. The ‘dude’ eating the banana is Bill Surridge and the man at extreme right was named Potter.”
The man named Culver is H. A. Culver, who was Secretary and General Manager of the Culver Lumber and Manufacturing Co. of Walnut Ridge, General Manager and Architect of the Cache Valley Lumber Co. of Sedgwick, and Vice President and General Manager of the Cache Valley Railroad Company, a spur reaching from Sedgwick to Light and used to transport lumber. He was also Sergeant Major of the 4th Infantry Regiment, Arkansas State Guard during the Spanish American War.
Bill Surridge would be W. K. Surridge. W. K. Surridge was Lawrence County Clerk for four years, County Sheriff for four years, and also obtained the rank of Brigadier General, commanding the National Guard of Arkansas. His wife was Linnie Rhea, daughter of John A. Rhea and Lizzie Cooper Rhea.
If anyone has any information on the other men in the photo, please contact us.
The mule shown in this picture was known all over the country as Old Jack. According to the 1905 “Blade” newspaper article, if his travels between the two towns were totalled, it would have carried him around the world three times. Old Jack put in 14 years of service, travelling an average of 5 trips a day. Fifteen miles a day for 365 would be 5,475 miles, and 14 years would bring the grand total to 76,650 miles. Old Jack was a very intelligent animal – it was said he knew the difference between the whistles of a passenger train and a freight train.
Location and Time
The Mule Car Line tracks ran down Front Street, on the opposite side of the Iron Mountain Railroad than the Electric Streetcar. This picture was taken on the 100 block of SE Front Street. Today, you would be looking at Dickey Tree Service and part of the old Police Station, however none of the buildings in this postcard are present today.
When the postcard picture was taken, the buildings were left to right: brick building was a barber shop, then a restaurant, an express office, and on the right another restaurant.
We know that the picture was taken prior to 1904 because the wooden buildings in the background had been replaced by brick buildings then. Based on the buildings present, the picture was taken sometime between 1897 and 1904, but we believe it was near 1900.