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.