Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway

By: Robert Wooster

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 2018

The Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway Company was chartered on August 8, 1903, as the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Port Arthur Traction Company; the name was changed on June 30, 1904. R. C. Duff and other financial backers from Columbus, Ohio, and Beaumont, Texas, organized the Traction Company to build an electric line between Port Arthur and Sour Lake. However, as Port Arthur seemed increasingly unlikely to overtake Houston as a major shipping center, and as Sour Lake oilfield production declined, some of the original investors lost heart. Duff nonetheless determined to complete at least part of the venture and retained enough financial support to complete a steam-powered railroad from Beaumont to Sour Lake in 1904. The members of the first board of directors were G. W. Meeker, Duff, Emory J. Smith, William Wiess, T. S. Reed, Hugh E. Smith, J. M. Richards, W. A. Smith, and B. R. Norvell. The renamed railroad amended its charter to allow it to connect Beaumont with Port Arthur, Sour Lake, Batson, and Houston, and to transport freight, passengers, mail and express. Duff sold the line to Benjamin Franklin Yoakum in 1905 at a tremendous profit for the remaining investors. As part of Yoakum's Gulf Coast Lines, the BSL&W was extended from Grayburg to Houston in December 1907 despite high water and the threat of yellow fever along the Trinity River. In 1916 the BSL&W reported passenger earnings of $180,000 and freight earnings of $604,000. The eighty-five-mile line became part of the Missouri Pacific system in 1924, but continued to operate as a separate company until merged with the MP on March 1, 1956.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robert Wooster, “Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 2018