The city's first mule-drawn street car made its inaugural run on Oct. 20, 1871. A Clarion-Ledger article from that time says that two dozen citizens took the first ride from the Edwards House (now the King Edward Hotel) to the Mississippi State Capitol. At that point, it was a one-mile ride, but with more track added in 1875, it became 1-7/8 miles in length, operating with four cars and 10 mules.
By the 1890s, horses replaced the mules. The publication "From Frontier Capital to Modern City: A History of Jackson, Mississippi's Built Environment," which former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. prepared for Jackson, says that on Feb. 22, 1899, Jackson Electric Light, Power and Street Railway Company electrified the lines. The company also purchased Jackson Electric Gas and Light Company and eventually renamed itself the Jackson Electric Railway, Light and Power Company.
The publication says that it was important in shaping the city because the lines could be easily expanded, which allowed for commercial and residential development away from the city center, making it possible for neighborhoods such as Fondren, midtown and west Jackson to develop.
Street cars, of course, eventually became subject to segregation. "From Frontier Capital" says that in 1900, the cars were segregated along racial lines, with six seats in the back reserved for black people, and on Sundays, white people and black people rode in separate cars.
In 1903, Jackson Electric Railway operated 6.5 miles of track, and three years later, the company had six more miles under construction. Around 1912, Jackson Light and Traction Company purchased Jackson Electric Railway, Light and Power, and in 1916, that company operated 16 miles of track. The cars could accommodate between 30 and 35 people and could travel up to 20 miles an hour. Before 1920, a handful of companies operated the street railways, including the Edwards Hotel and City Railroad Company and the Jackson Belt Line Railway Company.
Trolley service officially ended on March 24, 1935, when Mississippi Power & Light sold its transit operations to Jackson City Lines, which began doing municipal bus rides through the city.
A Jackson Railway and Light map in "From Frontier Capital," shows that trolleys ran through streets such as West and State streets, Bailey Avenue, Rankin Street, Robinson Road, Parkside Place, Lorenz Boulevard and Mitchell Avenue, covering areas of the city such as midtown, downtown and west Jackson.
After 82 years of wear and tear from weather and activity, it is hard to pick out the places where the rail lines used to be.