Chadwick Branch of the FRISCO RR.

Discussion in 'Ozark Branch' started by greg, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. greg

    greg Member

    Cassidy and stops along the Chadwick Branch

    Paul Johns – from the AllAboard employees newsletter

    The original and present day line of the Saint Louis-San Francisco Railway (here-in-after called the Frisco) originated in St Louis as the ‘Southwestern Branch’ of the old Pacific Railroad, chartered in March 12 1849 by the Missouri Legislature. The road was planned as a result of several great exploratory expeditions by then Capt. (Later General) John C. Fremont. A first survey of the general route, designed to connect Saint Louis as well as Memphis, to the pacific coast at San Francisco, had been laid down by Fremont as early as 1845.

    Fremont’s father-in-law, Senator Thos. H. Benton, of St. Louis who was backing Fremont and ardently spurring the federal congress, of which he was a member, did perhaps more than any other national legislator to convert Fremont’s exploratory surveys into practical national railroad building.

    Railroads through the Ozarks have given birth to a number of towns, some of which thrived and survived, and some that didn’t and died. For instance, on the rail line from Springfield to Republic there were three towns: Brookline Station, which survived and became the town of Brookline and is now a part of Republic; Dorchester, which is now but a memory; and Nichols Station, which became the town of Nichols, but which was long ago swallowed up by Springfield.

    On the railroad branch line from Springfield to Ozark there were several towns, including Langston (absorbed into Springfield); Sequiota (when it was still a good distance from Springfield proper, the Frisco Railroad used to run weekend excursion trains filled with picnickers to Sequiota Park); Galloway, which is now called Galloway Village and is part of Springfield; Rule; and Cassidy in Christian County, both of which no longer exist. Cassidy is now part of Fremont Hills.

    Cassidy came into existence after the railroad came through in the early 1882 when a store was built near the tracks and a post office was established in the store and named Cassidy. The name of a railroad official and stockholder of the Springfield and Southern Railway. For a number of years, the mail for Nixa was brought by train to the Cassidy post office, where it was then hauled by mail hack to the post office at Nixa.

    By the time the post office was installed at Cassidy, there was already a new one-room schoolhouse nearby called Maple Grove, which eventually became part of the Ozark School District.

    In the 1890s, a larger store was built at Cassidy and a Methodist Church. A telephone exchange was installed to connect the store with the several houses in the community. By the 1900s there were stock pens with loading docks and grain elevators at the site to make use of railroad shipping.

    It was the railroad that birthed Cassidy and gave it life and thus the railroad is intertwined with the little town’s history. For more than half a century, the train ran from Springfield to Chadwick each morning and then made the return trip that afternoon. With the Ozarkers usual sense of wryness, the train was known far and wide as the Chadwick Flyer because it took all day to make the 33-mile trip to Chadwick and then back to Springfield. Of course, in all fairness, that train made stops at a number of stations along the way, both coming and going, including Cassidy and unloaded and loaded passengers and freight. The mixed train daily that left at 9:00 every morning and came back at 4:00 in the evening with about all the weight the locomotive could handle.

    The train and its crew became an important part of the daily life of those residents who lived in the towns where it made its stops. The crew was always friendly and the conductor took care of children and elders traveling alone. The Chadwick Flyer was what in trainman terms was called a “preferred run.” The crewmen could have breakfast in Springfield, eat lunch at Chadwick, and then return to have dinner back home in Springfield. If a trainman got on that run, it was difficult to get him to leave voluntarily. In fact, an article in the June 1926 issue of “The Frisco Employees’ Magazine” was headlined “Crew on Chadwick Branch Has Combined Frisco Service of 222 Years.” (Photo attached)
    The engineer at that time was Bob Lyons, a native of Ireland and a father of nine. The fireman was W.R. Childers and he was a Springfield native. Harry Parvin was the conductor and Frank Murden was the messenger. One of the brakeman was J.M. Leitwein and the other was C.F. McBride.

    At the time of the article, Charlie McBride had been a part of the Chadwick run for 22 years, having started on the Flyer in 1904. McBride was born in Springfield, but his main claim to fame in 1926 was that he owned the town of Cassidy—not just part of it, but the whole town. McBride fell in love with the little village and when the chance came, he purchased a five-square-mile plot of land that encompassed the entire town of Cassidy. In 1926, Cassidy consisted of the general store, the post office therein, a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, and several outbuildings.

    The Cassidy Post Office, which came in with the Flyer, went out with the Flyer. The portion of the Chadwick branch line between Ozark and Chadwick was discontinued in 1934 and that same year the post office at Cassidy was shut down. With the Flyer no longer making its daily runs, the town’s lifeblood ebbed slowly away. Around 1984, the tracks through Cassidy to Ozark were taken up.

    This abandoned railway line began as the White River Branch of the Springfield and Southern Railway Company. The section from Springfield (Greene County) to Ozark (Christian County) was completed in 1882 and ran 19 miles. In 1883, the section from Ozark to Chadwick (both in Christian County) was completed and ran 15.5 miles. In 1885, the railroad was added to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad (Frisco) system and was alternatively known as the Chadwick Flyer and the Chadwick Branch. Towns and stops along the rail line included (from Springfield):
    • Whistle Stop - Langston (a mill)
    • Depot – Galloway (Frisco used Sequiota Park for reunions and Co. Picnics and ran extra's to carry folks to and from)
    • Whistle Stop - Gates (later Rule, 1917; Kissick, 1925)
    • Whistle Stop – Cassidy (now Fremont Hills founded 1986)
    • Depot – Ozark (est.1848 around mill, then became Co. seat 1859)
    • Whistle Stop – McCracken (post office in 1884)
    • Depot – Sparta (est.1871 with a store)
    • Whistle Stop - Oldfield
    • Depot - Chadwick

    As Chadwick was the end of the line, a turntable existed there as well as a wye in later days to turn train engines around to allow for return trips. The line hauled lumber and railroad ties from local sawmills at Chadwick, along with local farm produce. It was a logging boomtown with boarding houses, store’s, saloons, and gambling houses.

    Men working at the various sawmills had more pockets full of money and that created a Ozark's style "Wild West kind of Town". The Hobart-Lee Tie and Timber Company, which in 1890 was one of the largest business in southwest Missouri. A good quality tie 6 inches by 8 inches by eight feet brought 25 cents at the railhead in the early 1880’s!

    On June 17th, 1885, the town of Sparta was laid out along the railroad and the town became a shipping point for lumber and railroad ties. With the removal of the local timber, the line was abandoned by the Frisco Railroad in 1934 from the city of Ozark to Chadwick (both in Christian County). Prior to the closing of the line, business was so poor that on occasion the engineer would stop the train so that the train crew could pick blackberries and shoot quail. The Frisco Depot was bought by the Extension Club in Chadwick and after remodeling served as a community center for the town. The small towns of McCracken and Oldfield were also located along the rail line and have become ghost towns. However, Sparta survived and, to a lesser extent, Chadwick. Traces of the abandoned rail bed are visible along Missouri 125 south of Sparta. The Sparta Depot was moved and rebuilt north of Missouri 14 just west of the junction of 125 and is still standing in original condition.

    In 1983, the seven mile section of the rail line from Kissick (earlier Gates and Rule) in southern Greene County to Ozark in Christian County was abandoned. Cassidy was the only existing town along this portion of the line and it was a
    ghost town by time of abandonment. The remaining rails north of Kissick remain active today.

    *Updated with new historical information added to original document in the All Aboard Magazine by Greg Wadley - 5th Generation Railroader. My great uncle Charlie Wicker was also a Conductor on the Flyer as well as my Father Bill Wadley and Brother Larry Wadley worked the “Ozark Job” long after the rail was pulled south of Ozark. It was told to me by my Dad, that great aunt Suzie Wicker also prepared fried chicken dinners and served up meals for the passengers that were on the train.

    4-6-0 Locomotive use in the early 1900's on the Chadwick Branch
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017

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