In 1876, Brown, who supported Thomas A. Scott's efforts to build a transcontinental railroad in the South, joined the Texas & Pacific Railroad as a vice president. He was appointed receiver of this railroad in 1885, and was elevated to president in 1888. The following year, he became president of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, which was one of the largest industrial firms in the South. Brown also served as president of the Bon Air Coal Company, a coal mining operation on the Cumberland Plateau near Crossville, in the 1880s.
Brown fell ill in the Summer of 1889, and traveled to Red Boiling Springs, a mineral springs resort in north-central Tennessee, in hopes of recovering. On August 17, 1889, however, he suffered a stomach hemorrhage and died. His body was returned to Pulaski and interred in the city's Maplewood Cemetery.
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