Author: TEMİZER ABIDIN
*Assistant Professor Dr. / Mehmet Akif Ersoy University
In terms of its geographical location, Samsun is a gate from the Black Sea to Central Anatolia and from Anatolia to the Black Sea and vice-versa. Especially with the worldwide and Black Sea growing importance of sea trade, Samsun’s significance grew after the mid-19th century. Various commercial goods, particularly agricultural and animal products from Central Anatolia, were sent to İstanbul and abroad by way of the sea. Moreover, many products imported from abroad were transferred to Anatolia through Samsun. Besides handling commercial products, Samsun was also used as a strategic base in wars (for example during the Crimean War of 1853-1856) and thus various resources provided from the central areas were transferred to the fronts via the port of Samsun. In the wars with Russia in the east, Samsun was once again an important military shipment area.
While Samsun’s importance increased every day, the available roads that connected Samsun with the inner areas were unable to meet the needs. Although the Ottoman Empire constructed a highway connecting Samsun to Sivas and the inland, problems continued in the shipment of goods between Samsun and the Anatolian hinterland. Similar transportation problems were present between Samsun and the plains of Bafra and Çarşamba. Various improvements were made in the highway in later periods; however, the problem was not solved.
The construction of a railway became a priority, in order to deal with the transportation problems of Samsun with the neighboring cities. The issue of the Samsun-Sivas railway construction came to the fore for the first time in 1857. The Ottoman government orally approved, on August 27, 1857, for the English investor Edward Price to construct the Samsun-Sivas and Sivas-Erzurum railway, but the project was not realized. It was brought up again in 1911 and once more failed. The construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway was re-evaluated before World War I. In 1914, the Ottoman Minister of Finance Cavit Bey promised the rights to the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway to a French company. With that promise, the French company started to work immediately, but the beginning of World War I however, the company abandoned the project.
After the war, the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway was once again brought to the agenda with the Chester Railway Project. This project was strongly objected by Russia during this period. Thus, the Chester Project, which found no support at the time from the Ottoman government in Istanbul, was later presented to the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) government in Ankara.  On the day the TBMM was inaugurated in Ankara on April 23, 1920, one of the first issues discussed was the construction of the railway. Thus, four days after the parliament’s opening, the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway was agreed upon on April 27, 1920 with Law number 449.
Following this decision by the TBMM, the Samsun railway project was presented to Mustafa Kemal twice in the spring of 1921 and on February 2, 1922. Finally, with the approval of the Chester Project by the TBMM on April 9, 1923, the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway was on the agenda once more; however, it was not put into practice due to political developments such as the Mosul question.
Eventually, the TBMM government took action to realize the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway with national resources. The construction was decided by the TBMM on March 22, 1924 and it [finally] began in January 1925. The 380 km-long railway was completed in 1932. The Samsun-Havza section of the line was completed in 1927, the Havza-Amasya section was completed in 1927, the Amasya-Zile section in 1928 and the Zile-Sivas section in 1932.
While the construction of the Samsun-Sivas railway itself and the period of construction were being determined, the discussions for the construction of a Coastal Railway connecting the Çarşamba and Bafra plains to the Samsun port also commenced. The Samsun Coastal Railway Project had two steps: the first one being the line that connects Samsun to the Çarşamba plain and the second one the line that connects Samsun to the Bafra plain. The construction of the Samsun-Çarşamba railway was drawn in 1873 and the construction of the Samsun-Bafra railway was decided in 1890. These unrealized projects during the Ottoman period were brought up again in the Republican period. A contract was signed between the tobacco exporters Nemlizadeler and Nafia Nezareti, to connect the Çarşamba and Bafra ports to the port of Samsun, on a project that was scheduled to start on December 6, 1923. Nemlizadeler established a company by the name of Samsun Coastal Railways Turkish Incorporated Company (Samsun Sahil Demiryolları Türk Anonim Şirketi) and the construction began. The Samsun-Çarşamba railway, as part of the Samsun Coastal Railway Project, was completed on September 1, 1926 and opened for service. The company drew preparatory plans for the construction of the Samsun-Bafra railway in 1927; however, this project was not realized due to the bankruptcy of the company.
 Abidin Temizer, "Kırım Savaşı Lojistiğinde Samsun'un Yeri", Samsun Sempozyumu 13-16 Ekim 2011, Bildiri Kitabı Cilt: III (Samsun Symposium October, 13-16, 2011) Proceedings Book, Vol. III), Samsun 2012, pp. 687-691.
 Osman Köse, “19. Yüzyılın İkinci Yarısı Osmanlı-Rus Savaşlarında Karadeniz Liman Kenti Samsun”, Geçmişten Geleceğe Samsun, 1. Kitap (Samsun from past to future, 1st Book), Samsun 2006, p. 274-277.
 Musa Çadırcı, “Tanzimat Döneminde Karayolu Yapımı”, Ankara Üniversitesi, Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Araştırmaları Dergisi, Vol. 15, Nu. 26, Ankara 1991, p. 159.
 Hüseyin Kaleli, “Osmanlı Döneminde Karadeniz Bölgesine Demiryolu İnşa Tasarıları”, Karadeniz (Black Sea-Çernoye More) Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, Nu. 9, 2011, p.157.
 Meclis-i Ayan Zabıt Ceridesi, Vol. 3, TBMM Basımevi, Ankara 1989, p. 149, 365-373.
 Bige Sükan Yavuz, “Fransız Arşiv Belgelerinin Işığında Chester Demiryolu Projesi”, Ankara Üniversitesi Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk Yolu Dergisi, Nu 24, 1999-2003, p. 538; Bilmez Bülent Can, Demiryolundan Petrole Chester Projesi, Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, Istanbul 2000, p.291-292.
 Bige Sükan Yavuz, ibid., p.530.
 Filiz Çolak, “Atatürk Dönemi’nde Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin Ulaşım Politikasına Genel Bir Bakış”, Türkish Studies, Vol. 8/2, Winter 2013, p. 352.
 Bige Sükan Yavuz, ibid., p. 536.
 Ferah Ayyılmaz, “Cumhuriyet Dönemi’nde Samsun-Çarşamba Demiryolu’nun Yapımında Samsun Limanının Önemi ve Ticari Değeri”, Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz ve Canik, Vol. 2, Samsun 2013, p. 417.
 “Samsun-Sivas Hattında Havza İstasyonunun Resm-i Güşadında Mühendisler Bir Arada”, Servet-i Fünun, Nu. 1626, Vol. 62, 13 Teşrinievvel 1927 (October, 13, 1927), p. 143.
 Filiz Çolak, ibid., p. 354.
 For more information about this company see: Samsun Çarşamba, Terme ve Yine Samsun Bafra ve Alaçam’a Temdid Edilecek Demiryolu Mukavelenamesi, Şartnamesi ve Samsun Sahil Demiryolları Türk Anonim Şirketi Nizamname-i Dâhiliyesi, İstanbul 1340.