Ark City to Winfield, KS: Barefootin' it on the Frisco

Discussion in 'Beaumont Subdivision' started by Shooshie, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    As a young brakeman on the Frisco, the only assignments on which I could successfully bid and stand a chance of winning were the outlying ones. One of those was the Beaumont Sub on the 4310 and 4311, which took us to Ark City, and if need be, to Winfield. That little line between Ark City and Winfield was one of my favorite places on the railroad, though every sub had its scenic moments. The track, in 1974, was sinking into the right of way so that it appeared almost organically sprouted from the ground itself. Occasionally the end of a rail poked up uncomfortably high, and I surprised our engineer more than once by running ahead with a mallet in hand and pounding some spikes back into their holes in the tie-plates. I'm sure that would get me the ire of that section foreman, but I think it made all of us feel a little more secure. Of course, to be able to run ahead and pound spikes meant that our train was moving very slow, and that was the case. It didn't feel like work. It felt like an evening stroll, rolling along slowly through the sandy right of way beside a rural road and a line of trees. in Winfield, the track seemed just as much a part of the streets as it had in the countryside before.

    I once commented that it was like railroading barefoot, and that's the way I've thought of it ever since. I've got pictures going into Ark City, but I apparently didn't take any at Winfield. The sun was usually getting low by that time, and a Geep, even gently jolting at a crawl, did not make a good platform for obtaining clear pictures. So, I'm asking if anyone has any pictures of that little bit of barefoot railroad between Ark City and Winfield. I'll post some coming into Ark City, and maybe someone else can find a few of those shots that I lack. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help out.


    The pictures below depict:
    Crossing the Arkansas River Bridge
    Coming into Ark City
    Passing the Depot
    Entering the Yard
    Tied up in Ark City
    Shippin' it Barefoot on the Frisco!

    Attached Files:

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  2. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Interesting reminiscence. Thanks for posting this. I assume the photos were slides that you scanned. This line might make a good prototype for someone to model, especially if space were limited.

    Louis Patterson likes this.
  3. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Yes, these were slides I took in 1974. The Ark City Switcher on the Beaumont Sub would make a good prototype for a layout, actually. There's the Yard at Enid, the local freight that must dodge the four transcontinentals passing through the shared track with the Perry Sub for two miles between Enid and Steen (666, CTB, QSF, QLA), plus a local on the Perry Sub (637, 638). At Blackwell there is a semi-permanent switcher for the grain elevators. Arkansas City, a college town, sits on the Arkansas River for some scenery, and the run to Winfield interchanges with the ATSF. In all, there are only five towns on the timetable: Enid, Lamont, Blackwell, Ark City, and Winfield plus 11 optional tracks or industries over an 85.3 mile route. The full 127.5 mile route to Beaumont (Wichita Sub) was not on our schedule, even though it was still in the timetable in 1974. The traffic at the intersection with the Perry Sub through Enid and the ATSF in Winfield could be modeled or imagined, but it opens the possibility for massive freights on what is otherwise a one-train daily branch line.

    The 4310, known locally as the Ark City Switcher, leaves Enid on alternating days (except Monday), and returns each following day as the 4311. It tied up for the night in Ark City, after a runout to Winfield. During the period in which I worked this route, we never completed the run to Beaumont. I assume that traffic was handled by the Wichita Sub (Eastern Division). Blackwell offers interesting industrial action on a small enough scale to model realistically. The line was abandoned in the early 1980s; seems like it was about 1982. I'm sure someone around here has more precise information.

    Maximum speed is 30, but train orders and scheduled exceptions keep the speed more like an average of about 25. The depots in 1975 were no longer serving passengers, of course, but they remained as gorgeous examples of Frisco architecture, especially at Winfield. The industry at Blackwell is enough to keep one busy, and the structures -- especially grain elevators -- range from modest to massive.

    Two crossings of the CRIP and no less than five crossings/interchanges with the ATSF keep open the possibilities for just about anything one might want to model, including interlocking signals at some interchanges. It's a decent line for those who want a sleepy short line, but who want to brandish an occasional Ego-Builder transcontinental freight (or passenger, for that matter) for that "little bit of everything" that even the strictest of prototype modelers occasionally can't resist.

    Fun to think about, anyway.

    Louis Patterson likes this.
  4. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    Thanks for sharing. It brings back a few memories for me, as I worked into Ark City as a young brakeman on the MoPac local a few times in late 1978 and early 1979. We were using trackage rights on the Santa Fe due to the fact that major floods had washed out much of our trackage in the area. For that reason, I remember the Santa Fe in this area very well, but not so much about the Frisco. :(
    Louis Patterson likes this.
  5. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    Did you ever have the good fortune of going all the way to Beaumont before the track got washed out? If so, did you lay over and stay at the hotel?
  6. rlckansas

    rlckansas Member

    On the branch line: back when I was researching my old "Touring Butler County" book, I learned that a flood washed out a bridge between Beaumont and Winfield around 1977. I think Frisco was the one who gave it up a year or so later.

    Something else: early on, and maybe as late as the 1930s, there was a stop between Latham (Butler County) and Atlanta (Cowley County) called Wingate. Wingate had a fair-sized cattle pen. I drove out that way researching TBC in 1992 and could just make out the right-of-way.
  7. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Never made it to Beaumont. Wish I had; I'd like to have seen the water tower. Many of the engineers of that time still talked about steam. One or two mentioned the water tower. They had learned their skills on steam locomotives and had never fully accepted diesels. Not that they were overbearing about it; just that you could tell these guys were still, 15 to 20 years later, missing the time when those skills meant so much more.

    So, did I miss a great hotel? There were some good ones out there. I always enjoyed Coney Island Hot Dogs in Tulsa when we'd lay over there. It was very close to the hotel we'd stay at.

    Anyway, you don't happen to have any photos of Beaumont/Winfield, do you?

  8. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Wow, so that means the bridge was still there, then, when I was up that way in 1974. I guess we could have gone to Beaumont if the orders had said so. But no, Winfield is as far north as we ever got, and I'm not even sure we went there every time. Our main destination was Ark City. When we went to Winfield, we often went one way light or with caboose, either dropping off or picking up; rarely both.

    Just checked the timetable for Wingate. It wasn't even listed in the "Tracks And/Or Industries, but Latham and Atlanta are. I wonder if SLSF used to do any cattle hauling from that pen at Wingate. I guess the question would have been "when?"

    In your research, you didn't happen to get a photo of the Winfield depot, or the tracks in the street, or anything like that, did you? I've looked around on the internet from time to time to see if I can find any such photos, but I've only found a few, they dated back to the early 1900s or 1890s, and usually on the ATSF. I'm looking for some at least from mid-century or later, before it was abandoned. Preferably color, but beggars can't be choosers!

  9. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Now you've got me curious, and I guess I'll have to get out my Official Guide to take a look at the Missouri Pacific map. I didn't know it went that far west. Further, I'm curious how it got into Ark City without crossing the Frisco. At least, in my timetable there is no mention of a MoPac crossing. Maybe because you used the ATSF.

  10. rlckansas

    rlckansas Member


    I checked the original TBC; Wingate had a depot and a cattle pen, and that was it. If there was any more there, it wasn't for very long. Like I said, it all may have been gone before WW2. As to Winfield Frisco pix, sorry, haven't seen any. There are historical museums in Winfield and Ark City; the latter is the Cherokee Strip Museum. You might ask them.

    As to the MP, it came from the east. The line ran through Sedan and Dexter. It started at Independence, KS, and ran northwest to Kingman and on to Larned.

    I wonder if by the time you were working the branch, the elevators at Latham and Atlanta were no longer using the Frisco for grain shipments. There was still traffic at Beaumont. I suppose without shipments north of Winfield there was no reason to run all that way north.
  11. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    I too, am curious how all the trackage in and around Ark City was laid out. The MoPac came in from the east starting at Coffeyville. There was a junction at Dexter and the lines from there went to Ark City or to Conway Springs via Winfield and Belle Plaine. The Midland Valley's track came into play here somewhere around Silverdale. But, I have never figured out exactly what was what in that respect. When I worked there, we went to work at Conway Springs and got on the ATSF at Belle Plaine. We came into Ark City from the north and went through the ATSF yard and then through their MoPac connection. We were then on the MP main which crossed the ATSF main south of their passenger station. I remember waiting here for Amtrak to cross. We tied up at the MoPac depot which was west of the ATSF. I would say that we were in the downtown area somewhere. The major customers I remember switching were some flour mills and a refinery.

    As I recall, there were quite a few large ant hills along the track, which I was told to avoid at all costs. Also, there was a motorcycle gang(s) in town which I was also told to avoid. Our deluxe accommodations were at the Osage Motor Hotel. It was nothing special, to say the least. But, it was better than the mortuary that we used at Conway Springs.
  12. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Thanks for the info. As for the shipments, either you're right about Latham & Atlanta, or else they ran something out from Beaumont to pick those up. I don't remember our actions very well, but from what I can remember combined with what seems logical, we were probably picking up wheat in Winfield and taking it to Blackwell. Or, it's possible we took it all the way back to Enid where it became part of the marauding wheat trains that flooded the prairie in the summertime, heading to ports near and far. But I vaguely remember some milling operations in Blackwell, so it could have been a destination as well as a pickup. Given the amazing knowledge of some of the members here, I'm sure someone knows!

  13. RogerRT

    RogerRT Staff Member Staff Member Supporter


    According to the info I have the line was washed out in several places in 1973 between Latham & Winfield, it is possible that service to Latham from Beaumont continued until abandonment in 1977. FYI, the last train on the Enid-Winfield line ran on 5/29/82. Thanks for posting the photos, they are very rare!!!

  14. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Thanks for the info, Roger. I was wondering when they sold the engine. 1982 would sound about right. Just another abandonment to most, but to those who were there, it's a little bit of your life closed off. I knew it didn't amount to much even then. Heck, a long train for us was 10 cars, and they couldn't have made any revenue with one of our short ones. Kinda makes one philosophical to ponder what it all means.

    I may have more photos of that area. I'll have to check. In any case, I have more photos taken while I was working on the Frisco, and I think more than a few will please anyone who ever had a Frisco ID number. I'll get them up here as I have time to find them, scan them, and post them.

  15. I am working on a railroad exhibit at the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum and need some good Frisco pics as I only have one of the depot. Do you mind if I use any of your photos?
    Louis Patterson likes this.
  16. Good disscussions about the Beaumont Sub.My interest here is at Blackwell.When did the Salt Fork bridge @ Lamont burn? (1981?) At that point TheENI-ARK local via SF @ Perry would have started which lasted only about a yr. After this operation ended, service from ARK to BW would have ended. The local from Enid, did they switch the mill or did the job from Ark City? What time did the Ark City job go on duty? About what time of evening did they arrive to switch the mill? What type of engs would have been used on the job over the yrs? 5/29/82 would have been the final service to BW then right? If i can come up w/ enough data i would like to do a writing project about the mill and the rr switching associated w/ the plant for the history museum in BW. Its going take time. Right now its finding SLSF data to work with. Any other operation todbits centered on the mid section of the Beaumont Sub would be great help.
    Louis Patterson likes this.
  17. renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013)

    renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013) Passed away March 8, 2013

    Here is the Winfield, KS Depot

    Attached Files:

    Bruce Adams likes this.
  18. Shooshie

    Shooshie Frisco Employee

    Thrilled to have the pictures from Winfield. Sad that the man who provided them has passed away.

  19. Yes I lived in Blackwell on Frisco Ave and only 2 blocks west of the old Frisco engineer would throw me some for Frisco service stopping it was BTW 1981-1982...sadly in 1982 or 83 a railroad salvage company from Colorado brought in their trucks and started pulling up all the tracks in front of my a boy I played on the tracks and fishplate....I still remember the steel tracks having a date printed on the side of read 1910 and some even read 1908
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  20. Yes this is exactly what I'm doing!

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