Magnolia Marine Transport Company was created in 1968 to support Mr. Leslie B. Lampton’s rapidly growing fuel oil business. Its first base of operations was located in Greenville, Mississippi, in the small backyard guesthouse of the company’s then-general manager, Mark Shurden. It was among the original group of companies incorporated under the “Ergon” umbrella.
Prior to the company’s formation, Mr. Lampton had used charter marine equipment to transport fuel oils. However, with an increasingly high demand for these products, the business saw a need to possess its own equipment. In 1969, Magnolia Marine commissioned LeMay Barge & Supply in Greenville to build its inaugural vessel, the M/V Dorothy Lee, which was named in honor of Mr. Lampton’s wife. That same year, Nashville Bridge Company constructed Magnolia Marine’s first barges: MM-1, MM-2, and MM-3.
The continued growth of Mr. Lampton’s fuel oil enterprise led to the construction of additional barges and motor vessels. From one lone towboat and three barges in 1970, to seven tows and 38 barges in 1974, Magnolia Marine’s fleet expanded at a rapid pace. Several of these new barges were double skinned and equipped with onboard hot oil heaters, which enabled MMT to move fuel oils more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, these heated barges opened up a new avenue of transportation for products such as asphalt. To accommodate its growing fleet and provide room for repairs and refurbishments, MMT opened a small shipyard in Greenville in 1973. The M/V Miss Kathy was constructed at this location, and the M/Vs Gilda Shurden and Ergonot were refurbished. Once this work was completed, Mr. Lampton decided it was time for the company to move.
In 1975, MMT relocated to the Harbor Project in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where it remains headquartered today. As the fuels industry underwent changes and demand receded, Ergon soon moved into the asphalt market. With a fleet already equipped to handle these products, MMT handled the transition with ease. The transport of asphalt spurred much of the company’s growth thereafter. Business with customers outside of Ergon continued to increase due to MMT’s impeccable service, which further contributed to the company’s success.
Full Speed Ahead
Today, Magnolia Marine Transport Company maintains one of the largest inland waterways petroleum transportation fleets in the United States. With 20 towboats and more than 75 barges, the company transports asphalt, crude oil, process oils, fuel oil and additional products on the Mississippi River and intracoastal waterways of the Gulf of Mexico.