Found this ‘Railroad Stories’ Magazine from May of 1937 in a thrift shop! Score! If you’ve read my historical fiction books about the Ozark Mountain Railroad called the ‘Great Railroad Series,’ you know I love trains. The feature story is ‘The Iron Horse in the Making’…the story of the Past and Something of the Present and Future of America’s Oldest Existing Locomotive Plant. It features Walter McQueen, one of America’s Greatest Railroad Mechanics, and cover art by Otto Kuhler.
On May 15, 1956, Arkansas and Ozarks G.E. 70 ton diesel #900 was delivering a refrigerator car full of strawberries to the Seligman, Missouri interchange with the Frisco. (This line was formerly operated by the Missouri and Arkansas). Because of heavy rains the crew was worried about the safety of track and bridges. Granted, this run was occurring at the middle of the night, leaving Harrison at 10:45 p.m. The wreck occurred at 1:45 a.m. As they approached bridge 73-2 over Butler Creek, the bridge appeared to be safe. But after they traveled about 25 feet, the crew felt the bridge begin to give. The conductor, Winford A. Gonce, recalled looking ahead and seeing the bridge in front of them crumbling like matchsticks. The engineer, Jess M. Moody, set the brakes on locomotive and refrigerator car just before the locomotive plunged 40 feet, landing with the cab in the creek bottom. The reefer, Railway Express car #6210, rested precariously on the trestle. When the crew came to (every man whose testimony I’ve read passed out) the engineer opened a window and they crawled up the locomotive, over the reefer, and onto the tracks, where they walked to the town of Beaver. The storekeeper there called an ambulance, and all the crew were taken to Carrol County Hospital. Miraculously, no one died.
Later, a ‘shoo-fly’ or temporary track was built. A Frisco wrecker (crane) let the diesel down on its side. The crane then righted the diesel and winched it up the shoo-fly. The locomotive was then towed to Harrison and waited in the machine shop while the Railroad settled with the insurance company. After the settlement, the switcher was rebuilt by machinist Fawn Paul and the shop crew. The Frisco wrecker operator said it was “the nastiest little wreck I ever saw”.
Photographs courtesy Boone County Historical and Railroad Society
Here is another engine coming soon in book #2 of the ‘Great Railroad Series‘!Officially sold to the ‘Arkansas and Ozarks’ in 1949 even though the former owner ‘Missouri and Arkansas’ used it on the same line. This engine was used for scrapping operations and repairing part of the line. Retired by Arkansas and Ozarks in late 1949. Yes, it was sold and retired in the same year.
Missouri and Arkansas Locomotive #20.
Built in 1914 by Baldwin.
Type 10 Wheel (4 – 6 – 0)
The locomotive pictured is Missouri and Arkansas #51, built in 1912 by Baldwin Locomotive Works. (2-8-2 Mikado type). Purchased used in 1939 from Atlanta, Birmingham and Coast through Southern Iron and Equipment Company. Retired in 1949. This locomotive will be featured in book 2 of the “Great Railroad Series”.
We were driving through Arkansas and stopped at a ‘Welcome Center’ and enjoyed these beautiful paintings! It was formerly an M&A Railroad Operations Building.
This is the only photograph we’ve found of the ‘real’ Andrew! Isaac found this photograph in an old book from 1950. It was this photograph that inspired the book series. If you have another photograph of this same locomotive (ST. L SW #412) or also known as Blytheville, Leachville and Arkansas Southern #12. Built as Texas State Railroad #7 in August of 1915. We’d love to see additional photographs or obtain additional information. An interesting fact – this locomotive was the 6th to the last 2-6-0 Mogul type locomotive built for use in the United States.