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wpmoreland719
08-30-2011, 10:56 AM
According to the Surface Transportation Board's website, BNSF filed a petition to formally discontinue service over the "lead belt" in April of this year. On August 17, the STB announced that it had granted BNSF permission to discontinue service. The reason for petition, according to BNSF, was the contamination of lead throughout the line, and the subsequent cost of over $25,000,000 to rehabilitate it (remove the contamination, plus general repairs). The line is not abandoned, but the writing is on the wall. Thus the Salem Branch's final sad chapter is coming to a close.

Here is a timeline of the Lead Line as I know it:

1966: Frisco constructs a new bridge over the Meramec River at Birdsnest to replace the steel truss structure. The new bridge rest on heavy girders atop concrete piers, sufficient to hold the heavy trains hauling lead out of the mines in the Viburnum area.

1967-1968: Frisco constructs the Lead Line off of the Salem Branch beginning at a point about two miles north of Keysville. The new line is built with concrete ties, the longest in the United States at the time. However, many of these are defective and are replaced with wood ties. Governor Warren Hearnes uses a gold wrench to turn a gold bolt to secure the last rail. The line also traverses part of the old Sligo and Eastern right of way south of Viburnum.

1968-1980: Business for the Frisco over this line is apparently good. Typically four GP38-2's are used to handle a single train. Sometimes a GP35 can be found in the consist, judging from a few photos that I have. A switch engine is also stationed at the St. Joe mine in the early years.

1980: Ownership, along with the rest of the Frisco system, passes to the Burlington Northern.

1984: Original line from Lead Jct. to Salem is abandoned. Dismantled the following year.

1995: Burlington Northern merges with Santa Fe. Blue and yellow SF diesels start appearing on the line.

1996: Trains magazine runs an article on the line entitled "BN Gets the Lead Out".

2000 (approx): Soil around the Cherryville area is found to be contaminated with lead. Crews who work the line have been hosing out contaminated gondolas at the Cherryville siding for years. Service is down to one train per week, usually on Friday.

2002: BNSF operates the last revenue train over over the lead line the day before Thanksgiving. The line is officially embargoed on December 2nd.

2003: BNSF dismantles the Cuba yard and begins removal of contaminated ballast and soil.

2004: Work in the Cuba yard is completed. In April, BNSF sends two four-axle diesels down the line to pick up gondolas and hopper cars that have been sitting idle at the mines. One the return trip, the train derails north of Viburnum.

2006: An anonymous person donates $50,000 to research the possibility of turning the line into a tourist operation. The person is believed to be millionaire train enthusiast John Woods, a St. Louis resident with a large farm west of Steelville.

2008: John Woods is killed in a motorcycle accident in Shannon County in October. Nothing more has become of the idea of the line becoming a tourist operation.

2011: BNSF applies for persmission to discontinue service on the line with the STB in April. Permission by the STB is granted in August. The only part of the Salem Branch that is now active is about a half-mile stretch from Cuba Yard to the Georgia Pacific plant.


Pat Moreland,
Union Mo.

frisco1522
08-30-2011, 12:53 PM
John's plan was to take up the standard gauge rail and lay double track 15" gauge from Cuba to Steelville and run steam excursions. I think originally he was looking for a standard gauge steam engine.

wpmoreland719
08-30-2011, 01:08 PM
I tried to quote your post, Don, but for whatever reason, I'm having trouble. Anyway, that makes sense about John's aspirations of making a miniature operation out of the line. I never met him personally, but when I was working as a deputy sheriff in Crawford County, I stumbled upon his project while responding to an alarm at one of his guest houses on the Chaumiere Farm. I was amazed at the three mile 15" gauge railway that was still under construction on the farm. I told my lieutenant (who shared my interest about such things) about it and a few days later, we drove out there just to look at the project. I think the foreman was a little annoyed, but he allowed us to take a brief tour of the shop anyway.

John's tragic death was a huge blow to the possibility of Steelville ever seeing a train again, full scale or otherwise.

Pat Moreland,
Union Mo.

Rick McClellan
08-30-2011, 02:10 PM
Thanks for the update Pat. Sad to see another piece of the SLSF go away even though this was one of the newer (maybe the newest) line built. All the more reason for us modelers and historians to record the history in words, photos and models.

Karl
08-30-2011, 06:29 PM
A few notes to supplement Pat's report...

My dad said that the Frisco took its tie budget, which was calculated for wood ties, and then decided to buy the concrete ties....read fewer concrete ties placed on larger centers. The result was damaged ties, and concrete ties that pumped mud up through the ballast section. The Frisco came back and interlaced wood ties with the concrete. The line used 112 lb head-free rail, some of which was taken from the KC Sub's East Mainline, which was abandoned between Crossover D and Crossover E. During 1984 the BN placed 132 lb RE rail between Cuba and Lead Jct.

Will try to post the Lead Line track chart in the next few days.

frisco4301
08-30-2011, 07:59 PM
A few notes to supplement Pat's report...

My dad said that the Frisco took its tie budget, which was calculated for wood ties, and then decided to buy the concrete ties....read fewer concrete ties placed on larger centers. The result was damaged ties, and concrete ties that pumped mud up through the ballast section. The Frisco came back and interlaced wood ties with the concrete. The line used 112 lb head-free rail, some of which was taken from the KC Sub's East Mainline, which was abandoned between Crossover D and Crossover E. During 1984 the BN placed 132 lb RE rail between Cuba and Lead Jct.

Will try to post the Lead Line track chart in the next few days.
Karl, I first saw head-free rail motoring the Chickasha Sub several years ago. What was the idea behind its use?

Karl
08-30-2011, 10:24 PM
Karl, I first saw head-free rail motoring the Chickasha Sub several years ago. What was the idea behind its use?


Dimensionally 112lb RE and 112 lb HF have the same base and web. As the name implies, the difference lies in the head or ball of the rail. The RE section ball is generally shaped like a rectangle whose dimensions 1-11/16" high by 2-23/32" wide. The HF section ball might be describes as an inverted trapezoid, whose dimensions are 1-13/16" high by 2-11/16" wide on the top. The angle of the "trapezoid" sides is 58 degrees. Overall the HF section was 6-5/8" high and the RE section 6-3/4" high. The taller head was supposed to provide a "thicker" wearing surface as well as to provide perhaps just a bit more vertical stiffness. The rail didn't fare well on territory with sharp curves. My father said that a small amount of wear would change the horizontal girder properties of the rail, mechanical tampers had difficulty grasping the rail, and there just wasn't as much vertical surface on the gauge side to wear away. The smaller surface area under the ball of the rail made it difficult to keep the joints tight, so rail batter was a problem. He was happy when the Frisco put 132 lb CWR on the KC Sub West main. The Frisco also used 110 lb HF. Apparently, the Espee was a big user too. I was surprised when I moved to Houston, and I saw that the Sunset line was still using jointed 112 lb HF rail.

gbmott
08-30-2011, 11:19 PM
Karl

I had always thought that most HF designs also increased the cross-section of the web somewhat, strengthening it. Am I wrong about that?

Gordon

Karl
08-30-2011, 11:21 PM
The web thickness for 112 RE and 112 HF is 19/32"

Joseph Toth
08-31-2011, 08:08 AM
Taking in the environmental concerns around the world in regards to contaminated soil, water and air, what would have been Frisco´s approach concerning this issue if it were still with us?

Joe Toth

Brad Slone
08-31-2011, 09:03 PM
Any idea how long till they began removal of track? I always thought the way the tracks snaked around right up against the backside of the businesses downtown would make for some interesting modeling.

Brad Slone

wmrx
09-01-2011, 09:10 AM
Many thanks to Karl for posting the info on the early use of concrete ties and head-free rail. I have never heard a positive comment from MOW employees concerning head-free rail.

It pains me to learn of any rail abandonment. I understand that times change, but it still bothers me. I know for a fact that many previous abandonments were extremely short-sighted.

wpmoreland719
09-01-2011, 11:02 PM
The Lead Line has not been abandoned. It is, however, embargoed and is officially no longer in service. I believe that there is still the possibility that it could be sold as is and operated as a short line, but that would be long shot.

Pat Moreland,
Union Mo.

Joseph Toth
09-02-2011, 09:52 AM
Do any members have information on the amount of track that the Frisco abandoned up to the period when BN assumed operations and later, former Frisco track that was abandoned by BN or BNSF? Also, in lieu of total track abandonments including gaining trackage rights over another carrier to serve locations that both served how many former Frisco on line locations were thus left without any rail service and how has the lack of rail service affected these communities economically? This includes the AT&N and QA&P of course!

Joe Toth

Karl
09-02-2011, 10:18 AM
Do any members have information on the amount of track that the Frisco abandoned up to the period when BN assumed operations and later, former Frisco track that was abandoned by BN or BNSF? Also, in lieu of total track abandonments including gaining trackage rights over another carrier to serve locations that both served how many former Frisco on line locations were thus left without any rail service and how has the lack of rail service affected these communities economically? This includes the AT&N and QA&P of course!

Joe Toth

I believe that Roger T has posted such a list. Use the search tool and poke around.

RogerRT
09-02-2011, 01:31 PM
I posted that list years ago, I've got a better one I'll post when I get back from Wellington in a couple of days. Too bad about the lead line but I had a feeling the end was near so in early March 2010 I extensively photographed the entire line, I believe the total was over 600 photos from Cuba to Buick. I got to almost every location (including a 2 mile hike to Lead Jct.) except for a couple of the big bridges east of Cherryville which were too far to get to. Attached are some photos of the 3/7/2010, the #1 & 2 were taken at the HWY 19 Xing in Cherryville and the last 2 were taken at the end of the line in Buick.

Roger

Karl
09-02-2011, 01:56 PM
Thanks, Roger. I love to get the motorcar out of my brother's garage and take a ride. I wonder if the BNSF would be amenable to the idea. The paved crossings would be problematic.

RogerRT
09-04-2011, 03:52 AM
Karl,

Talk to the right people and they might hyrail you down there...

Roger

trains1504
05-17-2012, 09:32 AM
Hello
I am interested in finding out a little information about the Frisco lead line. I would like to know when the line opened and who were the first mines and smelters that the Frisco did business with. And possibly if the Frisco may have shipped any lead ore to any off line customers east of St. Louis.

Thanks for your help
Mark Haun
Trains1504

Oldguy
05-17-2012, 10:56 AM
Roger - what is that electric piece of equipment in photo 06-(b)? Looks like a car puller.

wpmoreland719
05-17-2012, 11:03 AM
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.

trains1504
05-17-2012, 06:22 PM
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

meteor910
05-17-2012, 06:22 PM
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

wpmoreland719
05-17-2012, 07:56 PM
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.

wpmoreland719
05-17-2012, 08:23 PM
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.

Morailfan
05-18-2012, 12:09 AM
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 (http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readingroom.nsf/UNID/D3CA54A095F39819852578EF006C1BF0/$file/41621.pdf).

Better news another day,
Brian Parkinson

wpmoreland719
05-18-2012, 08:03 AM
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.

RogerRT
05-18-2012, 08:54 AM
Roger - what is that electric piece of equipment in photo 06-(b)? Looks like a car puller.



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

Roger

SAFN SAAP
05-18-2012, 09:10 AM
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!

RogerRT
05-18-2012, 09:30 AM
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

William Jackson
05-18-2012, 08:44 PM
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

wpmoreland719
05-20-2012, 06:33 PM
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.