Discussion in 'General' started by james, Jun 12, 2001.

  1. james

    james Guest

    Regarding The River Division and Crystal City........

    I'm aware of only 2 roads that served Crystal, Missouri Pacific (predessor roads
    Missisissippi River and Bonne Terre, Missouri Illinois) and Frisco. If you count the 3
    switch engines and yard on PPG tracks you would have 3 railroads. MP timetables state
    that MP "Operation is over PPG Co Tracks from Crystal Junction to SLSF interchange".
    PPG did not venture out of their immediate plant area with their crews and power.

    PPG was the major industry on the Frisco at Crystal City. It employeed over 3000
    people at one time and was the largest plate glass factory in the U.S. at one point during
    it's history. The plant received inbound raw materials of silica sand in Frisco-marked
    covered hoppers from Ludwig (mine it owned and later sold to Martin Marietta). Soda
    ash would come from other points, such as Wyoming in UP or private marked covered
    hoppers. PPG also received rouge and emory in 70 ton Frisco-marked gondolas. This
    material was used in the grinding and polishing process for finishing plate glass. The rouge
    was a reddish-looking material and the emory was light grey. I'm guessing the plant had
    around 10-15 miles of track between the fences, including the yard which was adjacent
    to the Frisco yard in Crystal and separated by a high fence.

    Frisco had a local that served PPG and other local industries on a daily basis. The local
    would operate to Ludwig, River Cement, and US Agri Chemical south of Crystal. The
    local would also take care of any interchange activity with MP, which was accomplished
    at a small, 3-track yard behind Mississippi Ave in Crystal. Early power on this local were
    black/yellow, red/white GP7's, later replaced by red/white GP38's. Switching was
    accomplished at the Crystal yard and also at McCoy switch south of town. River
    Cement is still in business and actively ships covered hoppers. US Agri Chemical (now
    LaRoche) recently closed.

    MoPac entered PPG across an interlocker immediately north of the old Frisco depot. A
    concrete shanty and crossing gate protected the interlocker. I recall seeing MP 695000,
    697000 series gondolas loaded with A-frame fixures that contained large pieces of
    finished glass. Item: PPG at Crystal supplied all of exterior glass used on the Sears
    Tower in Chicago. MoPac also had a circus-style ramp south of the depot that was
    switched from the south and held around 5, 89' piggyback flats. Finished glass was
    loaded into MP-marked trailers and loaded on the flatcars at the ramp. Other notable
    structures in the yard area were a small substation around 50 yards from the depot and
    horizontal fuel storage tanks that were located in the curve just before crossing the bridge
    over Plattin Creek. Prior to the late 1970's, semaphore signals were on either side of the
    main immediately north of the Frisco depot and a manual train order semaphore was
    located next to the depot. A roadmaster's shanty is located north of the old depot and
    used to house handcars.

    The old Frisco depot was torn down in 1979 and the interlocker was removed during the
    1980's. MP entered PPG off of the Frisco main after the interlocker was removed. The
    sand mine at Ludwig closed in the mid-1980's and PPG was closed in 1991. All that
    remains of the massive plant complex is a vacant field, the plant office, and plant hospital.
    The piggyback ramp, storage tanks, and the substation are also gone. The yard is still
    there and used to support local industry. A rip track is also located behind a pre-fab
    building that replaced the original Frisco depot.

    The Festus/Crystal City area has a rich history of rail business. PPG was the big player,
    but smaller companies also received/shipped products via rail. Waggoner Store
    Company and Robinson Lumber received inbound boxcars and flat cars of lumber:
    Waggoner via its spur off the MP, and Robinson Lumber via the MP team track located
    in back of the depot on Bailey Road. Both are now out of business. The team track is
    still at Crystal, as is the wooden dock and the depot. The track itself looks to be out of
    service. Shapiro Bros. receives retired railcars for dismantling and ships gondolas of
    scrap to steel mills in the Midwest. UP or BNSF controlled 52' gondolas are used for the
    scrap, retired cars move in on their own wheels or as wrecks on flatcars. Presently, this
    is the most active shipper in area next to Ameren/UE Rush Island Power Plant south of

    The only other industry in the area were oil jobbers: the tank storage facility at Crystal and
    I believe one other in Festus located off of the spur in the UE facility. I don't have the
    history of these facilities and how their materials were received/shipped.

    Further south on the MP "main", McClay concrete received inbound loads of cement in
    small covered hoppers. Jones Chemical received inbound shipments of chlorine in tank
    cars. McClay (now Breckinridge Materials) no longer receives cement via rail. Jones still
    receives tank cars of chlorine and is the only active shipper on the line which stubs south
    of the plant at Howe. Jones can hold around 5 cars. Small, MP-marked covered
    hoppers were used to ship cement to McClay and the track could hold around 3 cars.

    On the Frisco, the city of Festus used to receive inbound Frisco-marked open top
    hoppers of cinders during the winter and unload the cars into their city trucks. A spur
    rack was located off Mill Street and the cars were discharged directly into the trucks via
    an elevated pit. The pit was filled in a during the 1980's and the spur was pulled up.

    Also in Festus, Union Electric had a spur track that was used for inbound shipments of
    utility poles. The track sloped downward from the Frisco mainline and had a small bridge
    over a creek prior to entering the UE property. UE is no longer located at this site and
    the track and bridge are now gone.

    I'm a native of Festus/Crystal City and a graduate of Crystal High School. I currently
    work for UP in Omaha. I too plan to model the Crystal City area on my railroad and am
    interested in any history, pictures, of the area and the operation of the MP and Frisco.
  2. dwain

    dwain Guest

    FYI In the early 70's both MOPAC and SL-SF depots were still standing in Ste. Genevieve. They were located across from each other with the MP, SLSF mains between them.
  3. patrick

    patrick Guest

    I was down in Ste Gen a few years ago taking pictures, and one depot was still standing. Ste Gen got hit really hard by a flood in 1993. I believe it was the frisco that was standing, but I'm gonna have to dig out the pics to be sure. There was only one though.
  4. dwain

    dwain Guest

    It has been a while since I was in Ste. Genevieve but as I remember it if you stood facing north where the MP tracks start to curve west, the stations were directly across from each other,the SLSF station and main track was on the right and the MP and station and tracks on the left. The MP yard was to the north. The MP had another build further north that was a office of some kind. I am under the impression that both passenger stations were torn down about the same time, but I could be wrong.
  5. chris

    chris Guest

    My notes are at home, but I do recall seeing a 1920s-era Sanborn Map that, I believe, lists a joint "Union" station in Ste. Gen. If I'm remembering correctly, it was on the west side of the tracks.

    I'll try to do some digging sometime in the next year to see what I can find and will edit this post accordingly. Meanwhile, if others have independent confirmation I'd like to see it.

    There was a depot in 1993 when I was sandbagging on the impromptu levee, but water was about 1/3 of the way up the roof.

    FYI, the Ste. Genevieve museum has a superb 1:87 model of the Missouri &amp; Illinois river ferry at Thomure, just north of Ste. Genevieve. Collias' <U>Frisco Power</U> shows a picture of a 2-8-0 rolling north on the St. Louis Sub across the Mo &amp; Ill. diamond just west of the ferry.
  6. patrick

    patrick Guest

    Terraserver shows an aerial from 1996, but the building it shows, seems a little north of where the tracks split, and it seems to me that it was a bit further south.
  7. ken

    ken Guest

    The video "Glory Machines 4 (St Louis Glory) has excellent shots of Joe Collias's movies of the Ste Genevieve ferry and M-I operations in the late 1940's, along with Frisco trains and depot scenes. I believe one scene shows both depots across from each other.
  8. jerry

    jerry Guest

    I cannot go back to the 1940's but in the 1970's the traffic at PPG was a mix. PPG owned several short covered hoppers that they used to transfer sand from the mine across the creek to the batch house plus several open top hoppers for moving cullet (broken glass) around. Most of the raw material came in via covered hopper with some (bags) in box cars. I remember waiting for a load of a batch material with the FRISCO telling us that it was in the yard but no one could find it. It turned out to have been deliveried to Crystal City, Texas.
    Shipments via rail was mixed between box cars and gon's. Box cars were used for the pallets of automotive glass while the gons had the crates of glass stacked on edge and braced.
    The orders to Mexico had to be prepayed since the cars that stopped on a siding in Mexico normally arrived without any crating on the glass.
    Somewhere in the basement I have a shot of the old steam switcher that PPG owned. If I am not having a senior moment I seem to recall that they purchased it from the MRBT. In the 70's it was not uncommon to see a MoPac SW switcher being used to work the PPG tracks when ever the PPG switcher was being repaired.
    I also remember the crew spotting a box car inside the plant for loading, the PPG workers cutting the seal in the door and slidding it open only to reveal a car full of brand new washers and dryers.
    A great place to model; lots of plant tracks, a working mine, three yards, the best two railroads (Frisco &amp; MoPac).

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