In 1852, a group of northeastern Louisiana businessmen got together to bring a rail line through Monroe. It was almost ten years later till that dream was fulfilled. The Vicksburg Whig described the scene:
Vicksburg Whig (Vicksburg, MS) February 13, 1861, Page 1
IT’S A FACT – THE CARS HAVE ARRIVED – It is with infinite pleasure we announce the arrival of the through train from Vicksburg to this place on Sunday last. Yes, it is an unquestionable fact, the cars have arrived and the citizens of Monroe and vicinity are now living within a few hours ride of Vicksburg and New Orleans. The train left DeSoto at 11 A. M. and arrived here at 5 P. M. The honors of the occasion were celebrated in a most appropriate manner at the residence of the Hon. John Ray, one of the fathers of the road. The gentlemen who accompanied the train inform us, that everything worked admirably, and that nothing occurred on the trip calculated to beget the slightest distrust of the capacity of the road. The entire working of the concern, from beginning to end, is pronounced good, very good. We hail the happy event as one of abiding interest to the citizens of all North Louisiana and Eastern Texas, and from the bottom of our heart, we wish the enterprise every possible success. Had this interesting occasion happened on any other day, the people would have given a demonstration in ever respect worthy the occasion. As it was, the road was lined with human beings as far out as the graveyard, and the train entered our ancient and beautiful city amid the waving of handkerchief and the shouts of a delighted multitude.
The directors and officers of the road are entitled to and have the people’s most cordial congratulations. – Monroe (La.) Register, 31st.
Sarah Lois Wadley, daughter of William Morill Wadley, the manager of the V.S. and T. Railroad, came to Monroe aboard the first train. She describes it in her diary thus: We came on the first train that ever ran through to Munroe, it was not the regular passenger train, but had some few of persons on board who were allowed to go as a favor. Mr. Horne came through, and when we arrived within twenty miles of Monroe, some gentlemen came on board who had come out to meet the train, they were John Rae [sic Ray] and Mr. Bry, the latter is the owner of this place. I was introduced to them both. When we came to Munroe, we were met with cheers from the large crowd who had collected on each side of the track, they were composed of all classes, young and old, male and female, black and white, many of whom had never seen a locomotive before. Our engine was decorated with red, blue and white, streamers (although Louisiana no longer acknowledges the authority of the stars and stripes).
In the fall of 1863, the railroad bridge was burned by federal forces. It would be another twenty-five years until the railroad would cross the Ouachita again.