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Thread: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

  1. Bullet WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    When I first started working for the Railroad, I worked for the Kansas Eastern which ran from Neodesha Kansas to Fredonia. The industries I remember switching were a cement plant outside of Fredonia, SEK Grain, There were 2 grain elevators at the junction in FREDONIA where the Old FRISCO and I wanna say either the Santa Fe or MOPAC crossed to go to Winfield and Arkansas City. There was a connection or wye that was used for interchange. We would switch the cement plant outside oftown and then bring our train into Fredonia, Run around it in the siding, then pull and spot the grain elevator which usually took in grain hoppers on one end and ADM Corn Syrup tanks on the other. Then we would head back east around the wye and switch SEK Grain. Then Bring our train back to Neodesha where there was a grain elevator on the East side of the Union Pacific Interlocking and also there was a place that fixed damaged railcars. We would usually pull cars out andplace them for pick up by the UP. Unless they went elsewhere then we would spot them in a yard track for pick up by the evening haulage train. This was back when WATCO worked 8a.m. to 5p.m. Monday through Friday. I believe the year was 1996- 1998.
    Will
    FRISCO 4503

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 1970
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    Wichita, KS
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    1,244

    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Willie:

    This is some great stuff! I am trying to recreate both Fredonia and Neodesha in the late summer/fall 1980 time period.

    This is what I think may have been the scenerio back then, but I need help from others on the forum who might be able to fill in some of the pieces or clarify things.

    NEODESHA:

    It was served by two RR's, the Frisco and the MP. The Frisco had a modest yard (4 to 5 tracks) and at one point in time could have been considered a Division point or crew change point due to the mileage between Monett, MO and Wichita, KS. In earlier years and maybe still then there were two trains daily between Monett and Neodesha. One was a straight through freight and one did local switching. It is my understanding that in earlier times and maybe still by then there was a local that ran back and forth switching Fredonia. The train that ran from Neodesha to Wichita did all local switching except for the possible exception mentioned above. It looks like the interchange between the Frisco and the MP was where the car repair facility was.

    Neodesha had several industries including the car repair facility you mentioned, the elevator, and a large manufacturing company called MEC that built custom grain dying bins.

    FREDONIA:

    It was served by three RR's, the Frisco, the Santa Fe, and the MP. There seemed to be a sufficent amount of grain traffic to warrant all three RR's keeping a presence. The MP even kept a switcher and a caboose stationed there. It looks like they had a trackage rights agreement with the Santa Fe and came in on their trackage from a town called Roper which is north of Neodesha and on the same main line that goes through there.
    As Will stated, the first industry served by the Frisco would have been the large cement plant that was east or town. In Fredonia proper, it looks lilke they serviced a grain elevator and possibly a bulk oil dealer.

    Any further details anyone can provide would be great, even from an earlier time period.

    Also I might add that Will's employer Watco, later bought both the Frisco line and the Santa Fe line mentioned and tore out all redundant trackage and installed a new connection between the Frisco and the Santa Fe lines. The Frisco line west of Fredonia to Wichita was all abandoned.

    Bob Hoover
    FriscoFriend

  3. #3

    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Willie is partially correct. SEK grain was not served in Fredonia or Neodesha. The grain elevator in Fredonia is owned by Fredonia Coop. The elevator in Neodesha is owned by Beachner Grain. Also, Systech is served by the KE in Fredonia. They are located south of the LaFarge Cement plant.

    Bob,
    If you want a complete list of industries served in Fredonia and Neodesha with track diagrams, please let me know when you are down in the SEK area and maybe we can get together and I can give you all of the information you need. It's really too much to try and go over here.

    John Chambers

  4. Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    I would also like to add that the old road bed (ballast) from the FRISCO is still there between Wichita and Fredonia and WATCO has been using it for years by pulling it up and hauling it to a locoation where it can be loaded into ballast cars and reused on some of their right of ways, especially from KINGMAN to PRATT, and Kingman Jct. to Coats Kansas. Last time I operated a train through those areas, it scared the heck outta me. There are alot of places where there isn't any ballast at all,just the tracks and ties sunk down into the hard ground. If anyone has any pictures of the FRISCO Bridge, where the dirt road ran under the bridge which is right outside of Augusta Kansas I would like to see a picture of it because I am thinking of modeling it on my layout. The COONSKIN LOGO was built into the side of the Bridge Abutment which was made outta concrete.
    Will
    FRISCO 4503

  5. #5

    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Will,

    Watco has NOT re-used any of the ballast from the former ROW from Augusta to Fredonia. All of the ballast we use comes from two sources. One is the quarry at Moline owned by Kansas Quality Stone and the other is the quarry at Long, OK owned by Martin Marietta. Watco has NEVER owned the ROW between August and Wichita. That was retained by the BNSF and sold and/or abandoned in two sections. The first was abandoned by the BNSF from the Sedgwick/Butler County line into Wichita. The section in Butler County to Augusta was sold to Butler County who tried to find someone to operate it. They were unsuccesful, mainly due to the fact that the BNSF had removed the connection to the line at Augusta and wanted LOTS of money to put it back in. Butler County finally abandoned the line and had the tracks removed. It is going to be made into a trail.

    The line from Augusta to Fredonia was abandoned by Watco in two sections. The first from Augusta to Severy and the next from Severy to Fredonia. All rail was removed by A&K salvage but the bridges were left in place since the ROW was railbanked and turned over to a trail group. No work has yet started on converting this section into a trail.

    The underpass you are talking about is located just to the west of Beaumont on old K96 highway and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed during the 1930's and is in the art-deco style. I have seen pictures of it on the internet and remember reading the article on it when it was nominated to the National by the Kansas State Historical Society.

    John Chambers

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 1970
    Location
    Wichita, KS
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    1,244

    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Will:

    There is a picture of the bridge (actually underpass) that you are referring to on this forum. In the search box type in Beaumont Frisco Bridge" and you will see it.

    Bob Hoover
    FriscoFriend

  7. #7

    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Bob,

    I worked out of Neodesha, Wichita, and Monett in the summer/early fall of 1966.

    At that time Neodesha had one yard switcher that worked 3rd trick.

    There were two trains each way between Monett and Neodesha (away from home terminal was Neodesha) plus a Columbus turn that worked out of Neodesha six days a week. The Columbus turn handled mostly traffic for Kansas City and Tulsa, plus did all the on line switching between Columbus and Neodesha. On line switching was done at Cherryvale (smelter, fertilizer, and connection with ATSF) with a little at Mound Valley and Altamont (connection with the Katy at both locations).

    Between Neodesha and Wichita there was one train 6 days a week with one crewís home terminal at Neodesha and the other at Wichita. Also a Fredonia turn was run six days a week between Fredonia and Neodesha, but could go as far as Beaumont if needed. There was a lot of switching at Fredonia with the cement plant, a brick plant, team track, and connection with the ATSF and MP. A considerable amount of traffic was interchanged with ATSF at Fredonia. I believe at one time that interchange was done at Cherryvale, but a line change on the ATSF resulted in a change of interchange points to Fredonia. An interesting move in Fredonia was from a clay quarry west of town to the brick plant. I donít know if the Frisco made any money off of it, but they moved a lot of clay. At Severy there was an elevator/feed house that surprisingly got a car or so a week. Also, there was a connection with the ATSF. Beaumont was pick up set out for the line to Enid (one to ten cars). Augusta was another interchange with the ATSF, fertilizer, feed, team track and products to and from the refinery. Leon had an elevator/feed house but I donít remember stopping there very often.

    There were two yard jobs at Wichita, 2nd and 3rd trick that worked six days a week. The 3rd trick spent most of itís time switching the tracks up town. The Frisco yard was originally parallel to the ATSF/RI and was moved in the early 50ís. What was left was divided by Douglas (or Kellogg canít remember the name). To switch the tracks on the opposite side of Douglas, the Frisco used the ATSF (Union Station Trackage) to get to that part of the railroad. The main customers on that side were the Wichita newspaper, Universal and several warehouses.

    One job worked west of Wichita going as far as needed. The main customer was a flour mill at Buhler (?) and several salt mines. I only made one trip on that line so am not too familiar with it.

    Wichita was unusual in the fact that the early crew consist agreement allowed switch engines to be manned with Engineer, Forman, and Switchman. Also, I believe the west end job was Engineer, Conductor, and Brakeman. Instead of having a relief switch crew one man was used who relieved 2nd trick two days, 3rd trick two days with the fifth day spend on the 3rd trick as an extra man.

    An interesting move at Wichita was a car load of meat from the RI or MP (donít remember which) that was delivered just before train departure. A local icing company had a special ice truck with a platform for icing the car. Many times the train would be delayed waiting for the ice truck. I was told the car was destined for the Naval Air Station at Pensacola.

    The Trainmaster was located at Wichita and the sales department (in Wichita) was located in Union Station. Neodesha was open 24 hours a day. Agents/Operators where located at Fredonia, Severy, Beaumont, Augusta, and Leon. I believe the Beaumont/Leon agent was a traveling agent that work both stations.

    Because of local work only GP-7ís were used for motive power. However, Wichita did have its own dedicated switch engine.

    Hope this helps,
    Jerome

  8. #8
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    Apr 1970
    Location
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    Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    Thanks to all of you that have posted responses so far. It's like a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces are definitely starting to fall together.

    Bob Hoover
    FriscoFriend

  9. Default Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    John, Since you know I used to work there, I only posted what was told to me by my supervisor Chad Dikeman, as well as some of the track maintenance people. My mistake. I thought my information was correct beins it came from several sources but I guess I was wrong.
    Will
    FRISCO 4503

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wichita, Kansas
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    109

    Smile Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    During the 1970's, there was an engineer who 1st name was Bob that worked out of Neodesha on the train to Wichita. However, there were times I did not see him for a while and was told that he was working the cement plant turn. My understanding was that there was enough business that the Frisco would put on a job that was only for the cement plant.
    I was also told by the current general manager of the cement plant that today, theycan only load about 16 cars a day.

  11. Bullet Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    I remember back when BN had the Yard in Neodesha, I went there to try to get hired on to find out I had to go to SPringfield, fill out an application, and hope for the best. There was an Engineer there who introduced himself as RED. He allowed me to hop aboard the 2 GP38's they were using to switch the yard and let me take a ride. He told me that the 2 ENgines were both Ex-FRISCO repaints. I was excited to ride in the FRISCO engines, I just didn't care much for their outfit they were wearing. RED also told me that in those days, FRISCO was a worse word than foul language on the BN at that time. To my understanding from my Uncle who worked on the Santa Fe side of the BNSF until he retired this last October, FRISCO still is a dirty word there. I wonder why.
    Will
    FRISCO 4503

  12. Bullet Re: WATCO industries in Neodesha and Fredonia Kansas

    If I am right which from now on I will check my resources a little more carefully, I am pretty certain the name of the Rail Car repair facility in Neodesha was Berwinds.It was or should I say, is located at the East end of the Neodesha yard on the North side of the main and on the West side of the Union Pacific tracks right in the corner there for access for both railroads. I remember they had a little 44 ton switcher which had the side rods connecting the drivers, it was pointed out to me by my good buddy Don Richardson one early Sunday Morning when he came over to Neodesha and took a Ride with us to Fredonia to see the old FRISCO main. He snapped several pictures and gave me 2 or 3 of. I will try to scan them and post them as soon as I can dig them up. I remember seeing that little switcher in action and man could it haul some cars.
    FRISCO 4503

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