The Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City Railroad was chartered in 1890 and in 1898 opened 50 miles from Mobile, AL, to Merrill, MS. Rails reached Beaumont in 1902 and a connection to Hattiesburg over the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern Railroad. New owners purchased the line and the 62 mile narrow gauge Gulf & Chicago between Middleton, TN and Pontotoc, MS, and proceeded to fill in the 240 miles between the two roads. The railroad went through Houston, Maben, Ackerman, Union, Newton, Laurel and into Beaumont. The MJ&KC was bankrupt by the time the construction was complete in 1906. It emerged from receivership in 1909 as the New Orleans, Mobile & Chicago RR. The L&N and Frisco assumed joint control of the NOM&C in 1911, but the road collapsed again in 1913. The road was reorganized as the Gulf, Mobile & Northern RR in 1917. The road was extended from Middleton to Jackson, TN, 40 miles. The GM&N reached Paducah, KY in 1926 via trackage rights on the NC&StL. The GM&N entered into an agreement with the CB&Q to form a 2-railroad Chicago to Mobile route. In 1929, the GM&N merged with the Meridian & Memphis and the Jackson & Eastern to provide access to Meridian and Jackson from Union, MS. GM&N also gained control of the New Orleans Great Northern in 1929 and leased the NOGN in 1933.
GM&N's notable passenger train was The Rebel, the South's first streamliner going from Jackson, TN, to New Orleans. GM&N executed a trackage agreement with the parallel (and bankrupt) Mobile & Ohio in 1938, and in 1940 merged with the M&O to form the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio in 1940.
Two main sections of the former GM&N mainline have been abandoned. The section from Houston to Maben and into Ackerman was abandoned by ICG in the mid-1980s. Towns on this line included:
The section from Bay Springs to Laurel was abandoned by KCS in the 1990s. The section from Laurel to Beaumont was abandoned by ICG in the mid-1980s. Towns on this section included:
- Bay Springs
Most of the branches of the former GM&N into Jackson and Meridian have also been abandoned.
In 2008, the Mississippi Tennessee Railroad, who purchased the line from KCS in 1998, abandoned the portion of the line north from Houston to New Albany due to low traffic volumes and high maintenance costs. The segment of the line within New Albany has been converted into a rail-trail, and the diamond with the active BNSF line has been removed. The MTRR is known as the Ripley and New Albany Railroad today.
Thanks to Tom Lucas and Matthew Nichols for contributing information about this route.