The Puzzler Returns: October's Question

Discussion in 'General' started by The Puzzler, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. The Puzzler

    The Puzzler Member

    This puzzler was inspired by a non-railfan friend, who brought me a picture of his grandfather posed in cab window of a steam locomotive. He didn't know much about the locomotive, and wanted to know more about it. When I saw the initials of the railroad on the locomotive, I saw a Frisco connection.

    In 1927 the Frisco cancelled a trackage rights agreement with another railroad which ran nearly 80 miles over the Frisco rails. I don't believe that any other railroad had this many miles of trackage rights ON Frisco rails. What railroad was it, and why did the Frisco nix the agreement?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2008
  2. The Puzzler

    The Puzzler Member

    A Clue

    The railroad in question had a MKT 2-6-0 on the roster. The Mogul was acquired in 11/1913.
  3. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    You've got a good one this time! I badly want to make this somehow connected with the Wichita Falls & North Western and its connection with the Frisco at Frederick, OK. The timing is about right, but I can't figure out where 80 miles would have taken them. There was through passenger service between Oklahoma City and Burkburnett for a period during the oil boom, but even if the WF&NW had had trackage rights, which I don't think they did, it would have been for more than 80 miles. I'm stumped!
  4. The Puzzler

    The Puzzler Member

    Think Arkansas
  5. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    I am embarrassed to admit that I am good and truly stumped. I am enormously curious to learn the answer, however.
  6. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

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

    Is it by any chance the Jonesboro, Lake City, & Eastern?
  7. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    I suppose that is possible. When Lee Wilson acquired the JLC&E in 1910 he extended his Wilson Northern Railroad north to connect with the JLC&E and went on to acquire right-of-way from Wilson all the way to Memphis. The line was never built to Memphis and it is possible that he acquired trackage rights from the SLSF as part of an agreement not to compete, but even if this were true it is only about 40 miles. The timing would be about right, however, as the SLSF acquired the JLC&E in 1925 after which there would have been no need to retain the trackage rights.

    This is pure speculation and I remain officially baffled!
  8. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Thanks for the clues! It seems the Puzzler is a Scissorbill at heart

    I recall that my grandfather spoke of all of the timber railroads that covered SEMO, and I looked through my 1925 River Division ETT, and came up with a possibility. After making a couple of Google searches, I believe that the Blytheville, Leachville, & Arkansas Southern RR is the answer that you seek. Although by my calculation, the 80 miles of trackage rights seems to be on the high side. Owned by a major timber concern, Chicago Mill & Lumber Company, it appears that the BL&AS RR was able to “influence” the Frisco and the JLC&E that it would be in their best interest to grant trackage rights. I can only guess what the CM&LC held over the head of the railroad officials, but what ever their methodology was, it worked, and in 1914 the BLAS began operating between Leachville and Blytheville and Leachville and Arbyrd over Frisco/JLC&E rails. From what I can determine, by the mid-20’s much of the first growth timber had been cut, and the BLAS started to carry agricultural products, which put it in direct competition with the Frisco. Already beginning to feel the pinch of competing highway traffic, during 1927 the Frisco evicted the BLAS. I hoped that there might be more information about this in the digital collection of The Frisco Man magazines, but I could not find any. Left out in the cold and without direct access to its mill in Blytheville, the Lumber Company sold the road for $400,000 to the SSW during 1928. The Frisco opposed the move, but it was over-ruled. The SSW incorporated the BLAS with a couple of other lines as part of its St Francois Basin Project. This project combined these lines and cobbled together a branch line between Malden, Mo and Mc Donald, Ark. The events of October 1929 and the coming onslaught of the automobile, called the wisdom of this project into question.

    I located the BLAS on an old geologic map of Arkansas. See attached.

    The depot at Leachville still exists.

    Operationally, this may offer some nice possibilities for those who might be closet logging-road enthusiasts, and it could offer an excuse for operating a lumber road side-by-side with Frisco steam.

    Attached Files:

  9. The Puzzler

    The Puzzler Member


    You are right about the mileage. Strapac's Cotton Belt Locomotives quotes about 80 miles, but it appears to be less.

    Courtesy of my friend, E. A. Beaird, here's the locomotive that prompted the queston. His grandfather sits at the cab window of Bytheville, Leachville, and Arkansas Southern #2. Gene said the picture was taken in 1925. He told me that his grandfather was illiterate, but was known for his ability to cipher in his head the tonnage of the timber that he brought to the mill in Blythville. He left railroading because he couldn't pass the written rules examnation after the BLAS was taken over by the StLSW.

    The #2 was a Porter saddle tank of unknown age and origin. Strapac's book shows the right side of the engine taken at an earlier date. It sported a diamond cap on the stack, and it carried a crosshead water pump.

    BLAS was a common carrier and listed in the the Offical RR Guide.

    The BLAS had a colorful roster of mixed ancestry. The StLSW placed the #12 on its roster and it lasted until August 1957.

    The Puzzler is on the look out for Frisco and related trivia. Be sure to pass your questions along

    Attached Files:

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