My wife was repainting the guest bedroom the other day and found a box of my research material that I had lost when we moved from Steelville to Union three years ago.
In it, I found the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight installments of an article written for the Salem newspaper by W.P. Elmer, attorney for the Sligo Iron Furnance Company and Sligo and Eastern Railroad. This man must've been quite a character.....
Although I don't know the exact date of when this occurred, I can guess that it was around 1900. Sligo had already been incorporated in 1882 and had a connection with the Frisco at a point about two miles north of Cook Station known as Goltra, named for the Sligo Furnace Company president Ed Goltra. Mr. Elmer states that Ed Goltra wanted to build a railroad east of Sligo for the purpose of harvesting the rich timber areas around Dillard.
Goltra had already purchased the land for the right of way, with the exception of one land owner in the Cook Station area by the name of Mrs. Sheridan Beasley, who refused to sell her land. Goltra had become frustrated with Mrs. Beasley, so he hired Elmer to negotiate.
Elmer recalled that he and Goltra rode from Salem to Cook Station in a caboose with Engineer Bill Bohannon in control. Elmer referred to Bohannon as "wreckless Bill", because he ran the train at 50 mph and got a geniune kick out of scaring his passengers (you have to know the Salem Branch, this would be like the French TGV running over the Eastern Division).
Despite this, Bohannon got them to Cook Station safely, and Goltra and Elmer met with Mrs. Beasley. Elmer asked Mrs. Beasley if anyone from the Sligo Furnace Company had offered to buy her a dress, as was the apparent custom. Mrs. Beasley's eyes lit up, and she replied no. Elmer then chastised Goltra for not buying Mrs. Beasley a couple of dresses, which prompted Goltra to place an order to the Sligo company store for 30 dresses, complete with all the ribbons and trimmings she wanted. Mrs. Beasley agreed to the sale of her land, and thus proceeded the building of the Sligo and Eastern. Sligo's population would grow to around 4,000 and the S&E would become known for operating the Shays that you see in the related threads.
Another of Elmer's stories involved Bill Bohannon himself. Bohannon had started with the Frisco as a fireman. Apparently on the run between Salem and Cuba, Bohannon got into a fist fight with his engineer. While they were rolling on the floor of the locomotive, the train passed the water tank and depot at Cook Station, and came to a stop a few miles later.
I've got more articles and photos lying around. There were several little lines that connected with the Salem Branch, such as the Dent-Phelps RR, Cherryvalley RR, and of course, the Sligo and Eastern. If you enjoy the history and photos of these, I'll keep researching and posting.
Last edited by wpmoreland719; 05-27-2010 at 05:17 AM.
Pat - Keep 'em coming! I love this part of Missouri and its railroad history.
Good stuff, Pat! I look forward to reading more!
I grew up in tha Viburnum area, and moved to washington in the fall of 96. My grandfater and I would ride our atv way back up in the woods north of Dillard off what is known as "Crooked Tower Road" up and down the old road bed. There is a lake we would stop at and go fishing where the train would water and dump the clinkers. The back side of the damm is covered with this. My grandfather knew the location roughly of where the road bed was from fighting forest fires as a young man. We always refered to that lake as "Lost Lake". I was wondering if you knew about this our where trains often watered. There is alot of forgotton history in those hills. And i still visit them from time to time. There is a narrow gauge rail road in Mount Pleasent Iowa that opperates a shay. But the forest has over grown the road bed now, but i am sure there are still some parts of the road bed still visible.
Jim - Neat. Roughly where is "Lost Lake" with respect to the 49 bridge over the Huzzah at Dillard?
Thanks for your comments, Jim, and it's great to hear from you. I know where Crooked Tower Rd. is, but I've never heard about the lake. If it's possible, I like to go there sometime and walk the old roadbed. I've tried to document as many visible parts of the right of way as possible, but I really have a tough time finding it once it crosses Hwy TT. As far as Ken's question goes, Crooked Tower Rd. is just about where the old and new sections of Hwy 49 meet, less than a mile north of Dillard best that I recall, so though I can't say exactly, it would have to be no more than two or three miles west of Dillard. Crawford County Sheriff's Department posted me back in that area once or twice for the SCCA 100 Acre Wood rally car race. Beautiful country.
Stand by......I just visited Sligo today and got some photos of the only surviving piece of rolling stock from the Sligo and Eastern.....
Pat, you are right about the location of old and new hwy 49, the road that branchs off of crooked tower road is may 5-6 miles in from the dillard side. That could all be fenced off now. The forest service has been renting pasture down there for a while now. Sometime i will find out excalty how far it is, and let you know. jim
My USGS map of the Dillard area (Viburnum West, 1967, 1:24,000 - good because it still shows much of the Sligo & Eastern right of way) shows a couple of small lakes to the north and a bit east of Dillard, north of 49, but south of the Huzzah (which flows to the east after flowing north thru Dillard).
There also is a lake shown out in the middle of wilderness north and west of Dillard, west of 49 (which is running south coming down to Dillard), and about 3/4 mile north of James Branch creek (which is the S&E row there). James Branch runs east into the Huzzah at Dillard.
Are either of those possibly the "Lost Lake"?
Ken, that is the lake where the trains would stop for water and dump their ash out of the firebox. As one drives through the branch there is an old field on the left, at the top of the field is the r-o-w. The road that one is driving on becomes the old r-o-w. Then it stops at the edge of the damm, at this point nature has reclaimed the land. Unless logging has permitted the building of new raod. It has only been about 15 years since i seen it so it might have changed some down there.