Henderson acquired her second railroad in 1908-9, with the completion of the "Ragley Road" from Pine Hill. Previously the Ragleys, W.G., and Frank J., (father and son), had built the Timpson and Northwestern as a sawmill tramway through their great pine forests, finally extending it to Pine Hill in Rusk County. They incorporated this road in 1904. The Timpson and Northwestern was chartered with a capital stock of $100,000, but when is was decided in 1908 to extend the road to Henderson, the re-chartered company became the Timpson and Henderson Railroad with a capitalization of $250,000. W.G. Ragley had been president of the old company; Frank J. Ragley, vice- president; C.W. Gray, traffic manager and auditor.
|The route of the T&H can be seen on this Rand-McNally atlas from 1911. [See bottom of this page for a larger view].
Henderson people subscribed liberally of the line into their town -- $50,000 in all. D. P. Richardson, who surveyed the right of way from Pine Hill to Henderson, took his fee, (other than actual expenses), in the company stock. Businessmen of Henderson still own stock with face value running into the figures named.
With the driving of the golden spike a few feet to the north of what was later the site of the City Auditorium, traffic service began on the 12th day of November, 1909. There was a picnic with an excursion train bringing people from all points on the line—12 passenger coaches being used.
R. A. Gould, agent at that time for the I. & G. N., said he attended the picnic and witnessed the joy of Henderson folks over their new railroad, keeping his hat pulled down over his eyes, feeling depreciated to the point of cheapness.
Miss Corinne Langhorne drove the golden spike. She later became Mrs. J. Ware Walker and lives in Montgomery, Ala., but that day she was rich in honors and owned $200 in the new railroad's stock. The picnic was held on the site of Fair Park.
The officials of the new line were W. G. Ragley, president; J. C. Hickey, treasurer; directors: Homer Harris, Sr.; R. T. Brown, C. L. Brachfield, J. B. Edwards and F. J. Ragley. Charles L. Brachfield was attorney for the road, F. J. Ragley, secretary; C. W. Gray, traffic manager and auditor.
The first Henderson agent for the T. & H. was W. C. Walters. The agent at Timpson was J. P. Morris. At Long Branch, M. P. Haley was agent. A. K. Buckner attended to the railroad’s business at Pine Hill.
The lumber traffic was the principal business of the T. & H. Railroad; but cotton shipments became considerable, 28,000 bales being hauled out of Pine Hill in the banner year.
The general offices of the company were maintained at the town of Ragley until 1914, in which C. W. Gray was made general manager, R. M. Woodall auditor. The last named gentleman was later in life freight agent of the Southern Pacific lines with residence at Lufkin. Soon after this change in the management the general offices were moved to Henderson.
The offices were at first located in upper rooms of the building later occupied by the Palace Barber Shop and Palace Cafe. Later the offices were moved to rooms over the Dyer Drug store.
In 1919, C. W. Gray retired from the general management, and H. Y. Noble was appointed receiver. Train service other than motor cars was discontinued and never resumed. The motor cars ran irregularly for a year or so.
All that remains in a material way to Henderson of the "Ragley Road" was one passenger coach of an ancient make, located at the east end of Ragley Street. It was occupied as a home by J. B G. Murphy, one time employee for the road.
When H. Y. Noble retired as receiver some years after 1919, M. O. McDowell was appointed by the court to succeed him. He disposed of the remaining equipment, save the car alluded to in the foregoing paragraph.
The late Mr. C. W. Gray, one-time general manager, said before his death: "Much money was borrowed by the directors of the T. & H. from its president, W. G. Ragley. The company at one time owed him $100,000, and the debt was never greatly reduced. During only two years of its history did the road make more than operating expenses.”
In later years The Henderson Times sometimes published rumors of reorganization and resumption of operation of the road, but nothing came of the rumors. The pine forests of East Texas had been reaped and shipped away to various markets of America and foreign lands. The "Ragley Road", was one of the last ventures of the great railroad building era in America.
Frank J., Raglev lived_in Houston. His father, W. G., died some years ago.
Joe Langhorne, who was a member of the firm of Skiles & Langhorne, druggists, during the lifetime of the Timpson & Henderson Railroad, recalls many employees of the line. M. B. Walker of the clerical force, was a faithful employee, among many other faithfuls.
Al Skinner is remembered as a versatile railroad genius. He was sometimes fireman, engineer, master mechanic, roundhouse foreman and conductor. But Mr. Skinner's fame rests principally on his wonderful genius for getting the engine and cars back onto the track after an accident.
Said Joe Langhorne: "Sometimes the boys would be without funds for a long time; then they would get' a little money—when they did they would scatter it around until it had all been paid on accounts. These fellows were without even pocket change most of the time, but never failed to get what they wanted. About the only luxury they had was cigars and soda water; and at times when I had to pay the cigar account I would go around among the boys and take up a collection for money to buy more cigars in order that they could smoke. The same spirit on the part of all the merchants enabled the bunch to carry on. They never failed to get anything they wanted but there was some rejoicing around Henderson when the T. & H. made a pay day. C. W. Gray would get hold of a few dollars that he would distribute among the boys, and before night it would have been in the hands of most every merchant in town. $100 from the T. & H. would pay accounts around Henderson amounting to two or three thousand dollars. I remember on one occasion that C. W. Gray gave one of the boys a ten dollar bill early one morning, and before night that bill had been all over town and paid many bills and that night just before closing the drug store, Gray borrowed it from me to go down the line to see about some bridge trouble. The next morning he gave it back, and around it went again paying first one fellow and then another. That bill was so well known around Henderson that we named it "Ragley."
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J. N. Thornton, “Out of the Past” history series in Henderson Times, March 12, 1959.
Rand McNally and Company. Commercial Atlas of America. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1911.
Photograph of number 6 collection of Murry Hammond.