Marianna Police Chief Hayes Baggett never knew his paternal grandfather, for whom he was named. Hayes Baggett the elder died before his namesake grandson was born.
But through the stories told to him by retired beverage agent Frank Rooks, Baggett the younger has a pretty good idea of how his grandfather fed his family: He was a train engineer for the old M&B Railroad.
In the state’s Florida Memory Project, there’s a picture of his granddad and coworkers alongside Engine No. 75. That and other things, like an old M&B timecard, are important to him in honoring his father’s father by learning as much about that patriarch as possible and passing it along in the family.
The short line railroad’s history is commemorated in the M&B Railroad Museum in Blountstown. Hayes Baggett has made more than one trip there over the years to view the items that figured so prominently in the life of his ancestor.
He feels some pride in knowing that Century 21 selected the M&B as the inspiration for this year’s Easterseals Christmas ornament. Ouida Morris is again spearheading the ornament sales drive. She secured a history of the short line railroad contributed by Park Trammell. Morris expressed thanks to him and to Robert Trammell for his assistance as well. The following information was taken from that contribution:
From 1909 to 1972, the M&B (Marianna and Blountstown) Railroad ran between those two communities. Its initial primary task was to haul timber and other wood products, and it also ran passengers between Jackson and Calhoun, with a special annual excursion course to the West Florida Fair in Marianna for a time.
In its early years, it provided a link between the L&N rail line in Marianna with steamboats on the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers, according to the material provided by Morris.
Its original path was a 27-miles stretch, but it was extended to the south to include Scott’s Ferry and to cross the Chipola River. Its total reach eventually spanned 46 miles, and along the way spur lines were installed to reach big stands of timber for area sawmills.
The boxcars hauled agricultural products, construction materials and manufactured goods, as well, and for a time they also sent U.S. mail and Railway Express.
Ownership passed from the original Pennington and Evans Company into other hands several times. Over the years, it was owned by the DuPont Trust, J.C. Packard, Oros and Verna Miller, George Tapper and Joseph C. Bonanno.