BNSF Officially Discontinues Service Over Lead Belt

Discussion in 'Rolla-Lebanon Subdivision' started by wpmoreland719, Aug 30, 2011.

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  1. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Mark,

    Construction began in 1967 and the line opened the following year. A Crawford County history book that I have states that it follows part of the old Sligo and Eastern right away (abandoned 1930) from a point near Viburnum.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
     
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  2. trains1504

    trains1504 Member

    Pat,

    Thanks for the speedy answer. I have been interested in finding out but haven't had a chance to be on the frisco.org site for a while. Can you tell me if the Frisco served any lead mines in the 1940's and 50's. Especially the era around 1955, I have friend that models the Illinois Terminal and we are trying to determine if the Frisco may have shipped Lead Ore to Alton Illinois from anywhere on the system.

    Mark
     
  3. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Pat - What milage from Viburnum was on the old S&E row? Any details in the Crawford County book?

    Is that book still available? I spent enough time in Crawford County as a kid I'd love to get one. Rustic Ozarks!

    Ken
     
  4. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I don't believe that they served any lead mines in the 40's and 50's, but they did haul out a lot of iron ore between 1880 and 1930. There were mining operations along the Salem Branch at Midland, Howes, Bangert (Condray), and the southern extension past Salem to the Riverside Mines. There were also three lines that were more or less subsidaries along the way: The Cherryvalley from Midland to Patsy via Elayer; the Sligo and Eastern from Sligo to East End (Rulon) via Dillard and Viburnum; and the Dent-Phelps from Bangert through Winkler to a little spot southeast. For the life of me cannot think of the name of the mining town that was the terminus of the Dent-Phelps RR. It's not on any current maps and there's no trace of it now. It was destroyed by a tornado in the 1890's.

    Ken, the best that I can determine is that the Lead Line followed the Sligo and Eastern route for about four or five miles, but that's just a guess. The Lead Line runs south through Bixby, but the Sligo and Eastern ran eastward north of Bixby to East End, so they have to diverge somewhere north of Bixby. I found East End a few years ago on a county road running north off of Hwy 32. There were a few houses there and a sign on a post that identified the town. Roger Taylor explored the area a few years ago, however, and could not find where the two lines came together. However, the S&E has been gone since 1930 and finding the ROW in most spots is quite a challenge.

    The book is called "History of Crawford County and Cuba Missouri". It was written by a local historian, James I. Breuer, in the 1970's and was never more than a local circulation. The Steelville library has a copy or you can borrow mine if you like.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
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  5. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Frisco.org Supporter

    A 1986 issue of "All Aboard" states that Smith's Bank was the name of the Dent-Phelps terminus, although that doesn't sound right to me. It does jog my memory, though. Hawkins Bank was the name of the town that was destroyed by the tornado. It occurred April 13th, 1893. Special trains were summoned to carry doctors from Salem and Steelville. There is an online New York Times article about the storm, including the names of the casualities. I know that I'm rambling off topic here, I just enjoy sharing history about the area of my old home place.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2012
  6. Morailfan

    Morailfan Member

    Hi, Pat. -Does 'DeCamp' sound Familiar? I've tried to find it, too! ;)

    Hi, everyone!

    Sadly, yes, the lead line is officially out of service. It was decided by the STB on August 17, 2011 that BNSF's request for discontinuance of service would be granted, adding to the embargo already nearly a decade in effect. What this means is that BNSF is legally exempt from any obligation to serve customers along the route. Still the track can not yet be salvaged or disposed of as a trail. (Although at locations along the line switch frogs and points have been removed.) Before BNSF can formally and legally abandon the route, they must submit to the STB both an environmental and historical report, summarizing the environmental and community impact of the line's removal. BNSF has not yet applied for either of these. It's hard for me to believe that it was 10 years ago that I rode in the cab of, what I didn't know then, was one of the last locals. Maybe I'll find those pictures some day. If you'd like to read the full report, including all the financial figures, which sadly spell curtains for the line, click here.

    Better news another day,
    Brian Parkinson
     
  7. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Brian, you're correct, DeCamp was the name of the town. The Dent-Phelps is pretty easy to spot along Hwy 68 around Winkler, but I lose it not long after it passes the intersection of Hwy NN and I've never been able to find the old DeCamp town site.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
     
  8. RogerRT

    RogerRT Staff Member Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter



    I think that is an electric car puller, it was a the very end of the line.

    Roger
     
  9. SAFN SAAP

    SAFN SAAP Member

    All very interesting read. Sorry to hear about John Woods. His loss more than likely was the death knell to any type of excursion running. What stuck out to me was the BNSF's Captain Obvious moment, when they said the ground was filled with lead, and would take millions to clean up. Ah, you were servicing a lead mine, weren't you? Here's your sign!
     
  10. RogerRT

    RogerRT Staff Member Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Ken & Pat,


    The only source I have that it was built on the old S&E ROW was from an issue of "All Aboard" from the Frisco Museum. However when I scouted the line in 2010 I began to doubt that claim, too many high fills & deep cuts for a short line. I've only got one map of the original S&E route east of Dillard posted below, it's not that great but to me it looks like HWY 49 was built on top of the S&E from Viburnum to just north of Bixby. The map is from 1930, unfortuately it does not show the Buick & Rulon lines, I'm kinda suspect of the map because it does not show the horseshoe curve east of Dillard. I did poke around the area a bit in 1998 but did not locate the Roulon line.

    As for the future of the Lead line all I can say is it should be around for a while, it will probably wind up like the Rock across Missouri, buried in the weeds. As I understand it there is so much lead in the roadbed that it would cost millions to take up the rails and clean the soil not to mention the health risks of stirring all that lead up. BNSF got a real good estimate of what it would take when they cleaned up Cuba yard so I guess they figured leave it be. They might remove some of the bridges like the Huzzah, they are a real liability for someone with too much time on their hands.

    Pat, I found the documents you were asking for, send me a PM of where you want them sent.

    Roger
     

    Attached Files:

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  11. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    What a shame, a really great area. In the 70's Tom Rainy used to be the Roadmaster their. Great guy, loved Wild Turkey.
    I worked there running a Burro crane and also a American crane. We picked up the broken concrete ties and put them on the fills. A contractor built the lead line and did not compact it properly or the railroad rushed the project. In any event it was a continuous problem. I really hate seeing the branch lines go.
    Bill Jackson
     
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  12. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I agree, Bill, it is a really neat area. It is a shame that it's just setting there with the rails and ties in place, and nature slowly taking it's course. Because of the area in which it passes through, it would have made a great tourist line, but the lead contamination ensures that that will never happen either.

    As for the lead itself, I believe that removal of lead from products such as paint and gasoline have led to much less demand for it. Several of the mines in the Viburnum area shut down in the late 90's and early 2000's. When Frisco opened the "Lead Belt", they would have four Geeps on a train. They also had a switcher stationed at the St. Joe Mine (now closed). When I was kid attended school in Steelville in the early 90's, there would usually be two or three GP20's or GP38-2's at the head and they still ran five days a week. By the time they stopped operations in 2002, they were running on Fridays only and the trains were usually only six or seven cars long, maybe less.

    One of the guys who works for the shortline here in Union previously worked for BNSF about 10 years ago and made the run to Buick and back a few times. He told me that they were required to wear Tyvek suits before entering onto the mine property, which made it unbearably hot in the summer. I have to wear Tyvek suits for clandestine lab removal and can tell you that even though they're paper thin, they feel like Carharts when it's warm outside. I can't imagine setting in the cab on a 95 degree day, or worse yet, running along the ground, throwing switches, connecting brakelines, etc., etc., wearing those things. He said it was miserable once they made it to the mine and I'm sure he wasn't kidding.

    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
     
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