River Division Operations

Discussion in 'Operations' started by chris, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. chris

    chris Guest

    River Division Operations - Introduction

    Last Updated 1-9-2003

    When one looks at the Frisco’s River Division, one sees a variety of topography and scenery that lends itself very well to modeling. From the high bluffs along the Mississippi River to the pancake-flat Bootheel, not to mention an abundance of junctions between different Frisco subdivisions and other railroads, there is indeed a lot from which the modeler can choose.
    Regardless of the modeler’s choice of region or era, a comprehensive summary of River Division operations is necessary in order to gain a better overall understanding of the Division, even if one’s modeling emphasis shies away from operations-oriented modeling. This summary will break down the Division’s operations by:

    1. General Operations Information and Background
    2. Passenger movements
    3. Freight movements
    4. 1920's Operations
    5. 1930’s Operations
    6. 1940's Operations
    7. 1950's Operations
    8. 1960's Operations
    9. 1970's Operations
    10. Modeling the River Division​

    One note of clarification: when referring to “mainline,” this denotes the St. Louis/Chaffee Subdivision; that is, the direct line between St. Louis and Memphis. “Branch” or “branchline” trains refer to the reticular rail lines running throughout northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel, such as the Hoxie/Leachville Subdivisions, along with their respective branches.

    As an additional point of clarification, even-numbered trains were northbounds; odd-numbered trains were southbounds (I add this since I have trouble remembering this!).

    The following information is the result of what I have collected, thanks to the synergy provided by the FMIG. Anyone who has either information that might add to the discussion or information to clear up inaccuracies is welcome to contribute by contacting me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2014
  2. chris

    chris Guest

    General Operations Information and Background

    1. General Operations Information and Background
    Last Updated 5-15-2003

    For years, Chaffee MO was the hub of activity on the River Division. Never more than 4,000 in population, Chaffee served as division point with offices, roundhouse, car shops and a brick depot that one would expect to be serving a larger town. Fr. Anthony Rohling, the first priest to serve the new Chaffee parish, notes that while Cape Girardeau had donated 20 acres to the Frisco for a yard and shop facilities, Frisco officials saw that Cape would not be well suited for a division point when the Mississippi River was bridged to the south at Thebes, Illinois. A farm was purchased south of Cape Girardeau by a St. Louis-area real estate company, with necessary acreage donated to the railroad for their division point facilities, and thus Chaffee came into being. The Illmo, MO Headlight noted on June 30, 1905, that “…work for grading fourteen switch tracks one and one-quarter miles long…” was underway at what was to become Chaffee, and that other equipment was already on-site.

    1920s-era Sanborn Fire insurance maps of Chaffee show what must have been an impressive railroad facility. The turntable was only 70' long, but this presumably was not a problem, as mostly smaller power was utilized on the division, especially on the branchlines. A 14-apron gravity coal bunker served the yard, along with a fuel oil station, and 40' Fairbanks-built track scale. The division stores, lumber shop, car shop and other buildings necessary to sustain the division's operations called Chaffee home. A 2-story, brick office building was also constructed, just west of the passenger depot, to house the divisions operations. A photo posted by Karl Brand shows the interior of the General Office Building c. 1925, featuring his grandfather, Division Engineer E.L. Brand (http://www.frisco.org/shipit/index.php?threads/e-l-brand.2616/). By the mid-1950s, company information shows a freight yard with a car capacity of 726 cars, and 2 switcher shifts per day, on average.

    Cape Girardeau was a central location on the mainline, even though it was not the division point per se; it was not only part of the St. Louis Subdivision but was also the northern terminus of the Leachville Subdivision. Interesting local newspaper articles from the 1920s lament how the Frisco’s early shop facilities were snuck away under cover of darkness to the new town of Chaffee. The aforementioned June, 1905 article from the Illmo Headlight as noted above indicates that “…it is certain that this system is not to maintain two separate yards, roundhouses, shops, etc., only 15 miles apart. The road is compelled to have a terminal handle its bridge business. The Cape is not located good for this, and if it was there is no land there for this purpose which could be gotten at a reasonable price.?

    An interchange with the Missouri Pacific (the MoPac arrived in Cape in the late 1920s-early 1930s) kept Cape's small yard quite busy, necessitating its own 70-foot turntable; 1955 car capacity was 301 cars with a single switcher shift each day. Chaffee and Cape may have held the majority of the support facilities, but as to be expected, especially during steam-era operations, there were various other facilities scattered See Table 1 in the AppendiX for a listing of other physical plant items across the division.

    As the largest mainline town between St. Louis and Memphis, a wide a variety of industries in and around Cape Girardeau provided for a healthy stream of traffic. Main lineside industries included a meat packing plant, a large lumber yard, several oil depots, a Portland Cement plant, a stone crusher and the International Shoe Company. See Table 2 for a list of industries located not only in Cape, but throughout other division towns, that were served by the Frisco.

    Since the bulk of the mainline followed either a water level route along the Mississippi River or went through the Bootheel flatlands (the maximum grade on the entire division was 1.0% just south of St. Louis), one might think there was not much need for helper service in the steam days. However, Collias?"Frisco Power" does show one picture of a 2-8-2 teamed with a 2-8-0 prior to heading south from Lindenwood due to the steeper grades just to the south; he additionally notes that 1400-class 4-6-0s were often double-headed with 2-8-2s in order to increase the tonnage per train during the World War II years.

    #1105 sits, apparently in storage, at Chaffee in August 1938. Joan Oaks photo, from the Art Marsh Collection.

    A few years later,#1401 was captured at Chaffee by Ivan Oaks (Art Marsh collection) in August of 1935. I find this picture particularly interesting; based on Collias' work, I had believed that members of this class were either assigned elsewhere or were in dead storage (the latter might be the case in this photo) prior to 1941-1942. Anyone who can shed light on this is welcome to do so.

    In the model press as of late, emphasis on Timetable/Train Order Operation, along with modeling junctions, has received a lot of publicity. The River Division mainline, especially in the Bootheel, had numerous crossings as illustrated in Table 3 of the Appendix (based on information in Timetable 31B, 4/14/1940). Keep in mind that a portion of the Bootheel Lines branches had already been abandoned by 1940, so even the list included in Table 1 is not completely inclusive.

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  3. chris

    chris Guest

    2. Passenger Movements
    Last Updated 10-7-2004

    The Frisco was one of three carriers providing passenger service between St. Louis and Memphis; the Illinois Central was the other competitor prior to the late 1920s, and the Missouri Pacific had entered the fray in late 1920s. So, it is likely no surprise that the marquee passenger trains of the River Division were involved in the St. Louis-to-Memphis trade. Both the “Memphian" and the “Sunnyland" lasted until September 17, 1965. Locomotive power for River Division mainline passenger trains ranged from the 1050-class Pacifics in the 1930s and 1940s up to 1500-class Mountains during the World War II years (these were the largest locomotives to see service on the River Division due to bridge ratings). My notes show that passenger power was run through the division point at Chaffee without changing locomotives.

    With the advent of the diesel, E8 units were the power of choice. While I am not sure of how many units were required during the initial years of diesel power, I have seen pictures during the early 1960s of a single E8 unit on the lead of 2 or 3 head-end cars, with a single coach attached to the rear. For those who remember the Model Railroader feature "Pike-Sized Trains," the “Sunnyland," especially in its later years, is perfectly suited for operation for the modeler without much space. In the early 1960s, a boiler-equipped GP7 would often substitute on the lead.

    In a past FMIG "Observation" article on the Memphian, Ken McElreath notes that the “Memphian was obviously scheduled for the convenience of businessmen, with late night departures and early morning arrivals between Memphis and St. Louis. Ken adds that the Memphian's timetable slot explains the heavy amount of head-end traffic and sleepers in the consist. An interesting operational facet, he notes, was the dropping of a loaded mail car at Sikeston or Hayti, to be picked up the next day by either the northbound or southbound “Sunnyland. More detailed information on the"Memphian" can be found in the reprint of Ken McElreath's past FMIG "Observations" article elsewhere in the Resource Center.

    Additionally, Ken has done a superb job in outlining "Sunnyland" operations through the years; his past FMIG Newsletter "Observations" article is also reprinted on the FMIG Resource Center.

    One note of import: in the decade-specific sections below, I have listed timetable entries for reference only! As many of those more experienced than I have often pointed out, the ability of even first-class trains to adhere to these times was quite unusual! Nevertheless, I have included them as a starting point for the prototype modeler. One can surmise that, in the days of "Frisco Fast Freight," efforts would have been made to keep the second-class freights reasonably close to the advertised times. Keep in mind that timetable-scheduled meets did not always necessarily happen (I will not go into specific operational detail that would be included within the “Rules of the Transportation Department" regarding Timetable and Train Order operations; this information can be found elsewhere within the "Frisco Resource Center").
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2020
  4. chris

    chris Guest

    3. Freight Movements
    Last Updated 1-13-2003

    The SLSF prided itself on fast freight movement, and the River Division was no different, with freight train names such as “The Creole Flash” designed to induce visions of blazing freights keeping the goods on the go. The divisions’ water-level route provided for few gravity-induced slowdowns between Lindenwood and Turrell, AR. From my research, it seems that fruit and produce from the farms of the Southeast were sped northward over the mainline to northern and eastern points. The fertile ground of Southeast Missouri also provided its own fruit such as strawberries and watermelon that would be hauled out of the branchline territory by old 4-6-0s and then forwarded north after being cut into trains at Chaffee.

    Karl Brand, who has provided me with a wealth of River Division information, once shared that a pipeline project (in the late 40s/early 50s) made for lots of pipe being hauled along the Hoxie Subdivision, if I remember correctly.

    Pictures can be found in books by Collias and Lucius Beebe showing 2-8-2s making quick work of some of the River Division mainline freights, hauling a mixture of rolling stock. For branchlines, smaller motive power, such as the 2-10-0 Russians, 1300-series 2-8-0s or even the 4-6-0s (especially during the strawberry harvests) might be more in order for the lighter track.

    By the diesel days, motive power from F7s through the U25s to the SD-45 "Cadillacs" could be found hauling freight north and south. Frisco Folk kwmcelre@collins.rockwell.com Ken McElreath has noted that a couple of the division's GE 44-ton center-cab switching
    locomotives, along with most of the RS-1 locomotives inherited from the Alabama, Tennessee & Northern, called the Chaffee roundhouse home.

    An interesting feature in the Frisco's twilight was operation of SLSF/MP joint coal trains to the Rush Island plant (near MP 48 on the St. Louis Sub) in the 1970s. Local and through traffic was certainly diminished from the division’s heyday, but I can distinctly recall there being 4 trains simultaneously blocking the 4-track crossing at Yoakum Avenue in the mid to late 1970s.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2011
  5. chris

    chris Guest

    4. 1920s Operations
    Last Updated 5-15-2003

    Timetable No. 12 (7/19/1925) says "River Division," even though other documentation I possess shows that it was still officially the “Cape and River Division" until 1926.

    Nevertheless, this timetable shows River Division service in its heyday. At the beginning of the decade, the railroad was in the process of replacing Cape Girardeau’s outdated passenger depot at the foot of Broadway with a new edifice between Independence and William Streets.
    See the "Physical Plant" section for pictures of both Cape Girardeau passenger depots.
    The Missouri Pacific would not arrive in Cape until the late 20s/early 30s, so the Frisco was the only way to go - truly passenger service in Cape was experiencing its golden age!

    No large-scale track abandonments had occurred as of yet on the division, so if you lived anywhere along the mainline or Bootheel Lines, chances were that you had passenger and freight service at your disposal. The mainline timetable lists 5 mainline First Class Trains, as of the summer of 1925:
    •801/802 ("Memphis Express"),
    •805/806 ("The Memphian"),
    •821/822 ("Memphis/St. Louis Local"),
    •875/876 (Unnamed Hoxie/Willow Springs Passenger), and
    •881/882 (Unnamed Leachville Sub Passenger).
    A list of 1924 Through Car Service Equipment gives some interesting insight into the consists of early River Division passenger service.

    Both of the main passenger trains met at Chaffee: 801/802 were scheduled to meet at 4:27pm, while 805/806 met at 3:20am. Maximum allowable speed, per the timetable, was 55 MPH on the mainline.

    Scheduled meets on the St. Louis Sub are listed for Rush Tower, MO (805 and freight #835). 835 generally had a slow go of things; it is scheduled to meet both 806 and 822 in the wee morning hours at Neelys, and slated to hold even earlier (just after midnight) at McCoy (MP 41.4) for #832. The wye at Nash, MO where the Hoxie Sub branched off from the mainline lists morning meets (freights #849/842) and afternoon meets between 863/832.

    On the Chaffee Sub, 835 still managed to have a scheduled average speed of 18.2 MPH, in spite of holding for 845 at Brooks Jct., 832 and 844 at Lilbourn, 802 at Hayti, 838 at Holland MO, 839 at Blytheville, AR and 846 at Osceola, AR. Blytheville, AR was the scene of plenty of early morning action, as 839 had scheduled meets around 12:35AM with 820, 821, 802 and 835.

    The Hoxie Subdivison included First Class Train Nos. 875/876, along with 871/872, "Current River Express," which saw most of its run on the Hunter Branch. Additionally, 4 trains served the Bloomfield Branch of the Hoxie Sub (2 by motor car).

    The Leachville Sub had 9 first-class scheduled trains (5 NB, 4 SB), which includes the Leachville mainline run, with another 4 trains on the Malden Branch. Service for two of the Leachville Sub trains was provided at this time by motor cars. The Caruthersville Branch of the Leachville Sub included 10 scheduled trains, with connections to 821/822 "Memphis/St. Louis Local," along with 4 "Tri-City Passenger" runs, which also provided service to the Deering Branch (I have yet to determine which cities on this run were the "Tri Cities," but I would have to guess that they were Kennett, Hayti, and Caruthersville, which were probably the three biggest communities on this line).

    Finally, 10 trains served the Campbell Branch of the Leachville Sub (4 of them by motor car) and With few exceptions, these trains provided daily service to the denizens of the River Division Territory.

    On the Malden Branch, all 4 trains had scheduled meets: 885/882 met there at 9:50am, while 881/884 met at 5:15pm. Nearly all of the other scheduled trains on the Leachville and Hoxie Subdivisions had at least one scheduled meet along the way. Bloomfield, MO was probably the
    busiest location on the Campbell Branch-Leachville Sub: 861 Local held between 9:50am and 10:50am M/W/F for nos. 892, 895 and 896. Motor car 895 met Local 858 and Motor 896at 11:50AM.

    By 1927, Trains 807/808, "The Sunnyland" had appeared on the schedule. Standard equipment included thru sleepers, Observation-Club Car, Coaches and Dining Car Service by Fred Harvey. Likewise, "The Memphian" included the same equipment, but with chair cars replacing the
    Observation- Club car.

    While I have been warned of their accuracy (or the lack thereof), I have found Interstate Commerce Commission accident reports to be an interesting source of operational information.
    An August 16, 1922 accident at Horine, Missouri between the northbound “Memphian" and southbound “Memphis Express" at 9:16am shows an interesting array of 1920s-era equipment, in the order listed. To wit:

    #806 Memphian Consist
    •4-6-0 #1109
    •Baggage Cars #393 and #349
    •Mail #63
    •Coaches #755 and #1701
    •Pullmans “Rupert" and “Graniphan"
    •Business Car #100

    #801 Memphis Express
    •Locomotive #613
    •Express Car #415
    •Mail Car #31
    •Baggage Car #321
    •Coaches #944, #960, #1027
    •Wabash Official Car #2
    •Diner-Buffet #609​

    These were through passenger trains; Local service appears to have included shorter trains: the northbound “Memphis/St. Louis Local" of 1929 shows 1 baggage car and 2 coaches (both unidentified) at Wilson, Arkansas. As far as freight trains go, a report on a 1925 accident for freight 832 north at Osceola, Arkansas lists 33 cars plus caboose, and a 1928 accident at Nash, Missouri lists 39 cars plus a caboose behind a 2-8-2 on Extra 4013 South.

    The equipment options were varied: The 1924 public timetable touts 801/802 as providing Cafe Parlor cars with Service by Fred Harvey, along with coaches; 805/806 notes 16-section sleepers between St. Louis and Memphis and St. Louis and Kennett (via Caruthersville), chair cars, cafe club car, and dining car service with Fred Harvey meals on the entire run.

    An interesting operational sidebar: in a recent edition of the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian’s “Out of the Past" column, there was an article on November 19, 1927 that recounts how the Frisco’s engineering department was surveying northern and western city limits, with the intention of creating a western branch line. This snippet notes that the surveyors were working in the “Cape Rock/Country Club" area; this would be in the area north of Cape proper (in the vicinity of MP 128). This is my educated guess only, but this would lead me to believe that this “branch that never was" would have connected to the St. Louis Subdivision near MP 128, and might have been a Frisco offer to serve businesses that were clamoring for (and eventually received) rail service from the Missouri Pacific.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2018
  6. chris

    chris Guest

    5. 1930s Operations
    Last Updated 5-15-2003

    Common sense dictates that the Great Depression would have taken a heavy toll on traffic, especially on the passenger schedules. This also marked the first decade of constricting track mileage, as the Depression and increased competition from improving highways undoubtedly spurred the division's first abandonments (See Table 4 for a list of abandonments throughout the Division's history).

    For starters, the dawn of the new decade did still bring about some safety and technological improvements. A Southeast Missourian archive column for February 20, 1930 notes that "General agent J.T. Hulehan announces that installation of an electric block signal system on the line of the Frisco Railroad between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, projected to cost between $375,000 and $400,000, will start immediately."

    A 1937 public timetable lists some of the available depression-era service to Puxico, Willow Springs, Poplar Bluff, Kennett, Dell and Wilson.

    Likewise, information on passenger service for Saint Louis, Cape, Kennett, Caruthersville and Leachville, Arkansas are all included in 1937 timetable information.

    Public times for passenger service between Saint Louis and Memphis continue to show the 2 main trains - "Sunnyland" for the daylight hours, and "Memphian" for the overnight business and head-end traffic.

    The 1937 public timetable list of Through Car Service Equipment provides an intersting contrast to pre-Depression passenger service on the division.

    Regardless, passenger accommodations still offered considerable options. The “Memphian?(805/806) included air-conditioned sleepers (16-section) between St. Louis and Birmingham, along with air-conditioned lounge cars, and air-conditioned coach-lounge cars.

    For pictures of 1930s action;

    Ivan Oaks captured the northbound "Sunnyland" behind Pacific #1018 on a snowy day in the late 1930s near the Cape passenger depot; the Mississippi River Bridge is in the background (Don Wirth Collection #2836).

    Pacific-class #1015 heads up the southbound "Sunnyland" in a very photogenic shot c. 1938 over the Watson Road/US Rte. 66 a bit south of Southeastern Junction (Ivan Oaks photo; Don Wirth Collection #2824).

    Based on ICC accident reports of this era, it seems that freight traffic on the mainline was still marked by relatively short, fast freights behind Mikado power. 832 North and Extra 4005 South were involved in a collision in 1934 at Swift, Missouri on the Chaffee Subdivision: the former behind Mikado #4026 with 26 cars plus a caboose; the latter with 19 cars plus a caboose. This accident occurred in January; having always heard that traffic tended to be at its lowest ebb during this time of the year, these trains might be shorter than one would have found in the summer or autumn months.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2011
  7. chris

    chris Guest

    6. 1940s Operations
    Last Updated 5-15-2003

    Sadly, things do become more simple in reading timetables after the onset of the Great Depression. Sections of abandoned track included nearly 150 miles, including substantial portions of the old Leachville Sub mainline between Marquette and Brooks Junction, and between Vanduser and Bloomfield.

    Timetable No. 31-B (4/14/1940) on the eve of World War II shows a passenger scheduled hit hard by the Depression but still providing substantial passenger service. By this time, mainline service was being provided by the “Memphian" and the “Sunnyland." Overall, the St. Louis Sub and Chaffee Subdivisions show a total of 16 scheduled trains running between St. Louis and Turrell, Arkansas. Considering the allusions to a deluge of wartime traffic I have heard, I would thoroughly enjoy seeing a train sheet from any location on either the St. Louis or Chaffee Subdivisions, in order to gauge how many second and third sections were in order, not to mention extras.

    For passenger train meets on the mainline, one could see 805/806, "The Memphian" meeting at Oran, MO if you were up around 3:20am and the trains were on time. 807/808, "The Sunnyland" met at Cape Girardeau "Shops" at the more sunlit hour of 12:18pm. 833 (Memphis Fast Freight) held at Ten Brook (MP 20.8) at 6:46am daily for the northbound 832 and for the northbound "Memphian." It also met Local 842 at Ramey (MP 66.5), the southbound "Sunnyland" (807) at Wittenberg at 11:30am, and the northbound "Sunnyland" at Bainbridge.

    The 1943 consists for "The Sunnyland" included all Air-Conditioned Sleepers, Coaches and snack car service, while "The Memphian" featured lounge-diner service, in addition to all Air-Conditioned sleepers and chair cars.

    The southbound "Sunnyland" behind Pacific #1051 in the St. Louis yards 1945 Wm. Barham photo /Mike Lutzenberger collection (attached below)

    Mountain type #1500, just south of SE Jct. on the first mile of the St. Louis Subdivision. Photo listed as from the "James Glasgow Collection" on the "Fallen Flags" website. This appears to be the southbound "Sunnyland" sometime in the mid-to-late 1940s. (This picture is also in Collias' Frisco Power)

    Mixed Nos. 875 and 876 provided third-class passenger service between Chaffee and Hoxie, AR.; the only picture I have of this train shows 2-8-0 no. 1233 providing power in the late 1940s or early 1950s. These trains also provided the only scheduled excitement on the Hoxie Sub, as the two trains met each other at Poplar Bluff at 11:25am daily except Sunday. Dedicated branchline passenger service was now handled by Motor Cars: on the Leachville Sub, 881 and 882 provided service between Brooks Jct. and Hayti MO via Kennett, and 811/812 ran between Kennett and Leachville, AR. 895/896 also provided motor car service between Poplar Jct. and Hayti, MO; 886/887 between Campbell and Gibson, MO, 884/885 between Malden and Clarkton, MO and 898/899 between Blytheville and Jonesboro, AR. All of these motor cars provided daily service with the exception of 895/896, which provided daily except Sunday runs.

    On the branchlines, local 863 met Motor Car 812 at Kennett Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:50am. On the Campbell Branch, I can only assume that local 858/859 and Motor 886/887 were turned around at Campbell, as both companion trains show meets there. The same goes for local 860/816 and Motor 884/885 at Malden, along with Motor 895/896 between Poplar Jct. and Kennett.

    Naturally, the mainline passenger trains maintained the hottest schedules, with average speeds at or near 40 MPH over the course of their run. "The Lindbergh" was evidentially the fastest of the Frisco Fast Freights on the line, with average speeds not too far behind. Most other trains poked along at a leisurely pace; even 834 "Florida Fruit" only managed 21.7 average MPH between Chaffee and SE Jct., with an even slower 12.4 listed on the timetable between Turrell and Chaffee!

    Presumably, there was set-out work to be done by the freight trains that arrived in Chaffee. The southbound Lindbergh (835) didn't set long: it arrived in Chaffee at 11:30pm before rolling south again at 12:01am. The southbound Memphis Fast Freight, however, arrived at 2:00pm and didn't leave again until 3:40am. The northbound Lindbergh (832) had even less time at the division point, with scheduled arrival and departure times of 2:20am and 2:35am, respectively. The Florida Fruit rode into town at 7:25am but didn't role north again until 5:00pm.

    Whereas the 4-6-0 locomotive type had all but disappeared from the Frisco’s right-of-way, a sizeable fleet of the older locomotives were retained at Chaffee, stored and serviceable, for use during the May and June strawberry harvests; thus, their moniker, the “berry pickers.? Later and larger classes of 4-6-0 locomotives (1400 class) were enlisted during the war, double-headed with the Mikado types in order to increase tonnage-per-train on the mainline; Collias' Frisco Power goes into a good amount of detail on both classes of these locomotives.

    We can thank Don Wirth for sharing several pictures of 1940s action on the River Division, including the following:
    4026 at SE Jct. heading down River Division. March 1943, Wm. Barnham photo; Don wirth Collection

    4012 at Tenbrook, MO.; exact date not listed. Ivan Oaks photo /Don Wirth collection.

    Looking toward SE Jct. Tower from River Division - St. Louis Sub main; July 1940. Wm. Barham photo /Don Wirth Collection

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2020
  8. chris

    chris Guest

    7. 1950s Operations
    Last Updated 1-14-2003

    Up until 1950, there were no significant changes or abandonments to the division. However, the 1950s did see the abandonment of the last portion of the Piggott Branch - 33 miles abandoned between Poplar Bluff and Piggott in 1951, and the remaining portion between Piggott and Kennett in 1958 (Refer to Table 4 for abandonment history).

    The Frisco continued to make physical plant improvements along the division. According to information provided by Roger Taylor, during 1953, the Board of Directors:
    •extend automatic block signals from the southern yard limits of Cape Girardeau to the junction with the Hoxie Subdivision at Nash, MO. (a distance of 5-miles),
    •install CTC on the St. Louis/Chaffee Subs for 143-miles between Nash, MO. and Turrell, AR., and
    •extend the siding at Brooks Junction, MO.

    By 1956, the "Memphian" and the "Sunnyland" both still maintained their spots on the timetable, albeit with pared-back service. Just two years earlier, both "Memphian" and "Sunnyland" consists were reduced to sleepers, buffet service, lounge and chair cars, dining car service and reclining chair cars. Ken McElreath notes that the "Sunnyland” in these waning years typically included 3-5 cars including a 200-219 class RPO-Baggage, and a 60 or 64-seat coach (usually a heavyweight but with an occasional substitute streamlined coach). The RPO-Baggage did not run on Sundays.

    Ken further adds that there were 5 baggage cars typically assigned for the St. Louis-Memphis-Birmingham pool service (1 per train), with a sixth during holiday seasons; extra head-end cars were often set out at places such as Cape, Sikeston, Hayti and Blytheville for regional mail distribution. Then, there were times when an a second or even third coach might be run depending on need. As Ken summarizes, such practices would make for interesting model operations.

    The north and southbound “Memphian” were still scheduled to meet in the early morning hours: 3:06am at Brooks Junction. Likewise, the northbound and south-bound “Sunnyland” met up at "Shops" just after noon, along with Local 843. Each passenger train had an approximately 10-minute stop in Chaffee (give or take a couple of minutes), presumably for a crew change. Second-class freight 835 stopped for 20 minutes at the division point, with an hour and a half scheduled there for 833. 836 had just over an hour to cool its heels at Chaffee (a scheduled meet with 805 probably kept it there), while 834 had an hour and a half to rest. Coral, MO (MP 56.6) was also a busy spot, as 805 met second class 834 at 12:36am, and 807 met 842 at 10:16am.

    Branchline passenger traffic had dropped dramatically by the middle to late 1950s. Third-class Nos. 875 and 876 mixed still ran between Chaffee and Hoxie, AR with an 11:25am meet at Poplar Bluff; it still usually carried approximately one freight car and one of the oddball combines, but was now typically hauled by ex-AT&N RS-1s. See copies of Mel Nierdierck photos of this train leaving Chaffee sometime in the early 1950s here on the Frisco Resource Center; thse can be found by using the "Search" function.

    The only other indication of passenger traffic is the note that train nos. 830, 831, 850, 851, 858, 859, 860, 861, 862 and 863 (all on the "Bootheel Lines") would carry passengers, and these trains were by then relegated to M/W/F or Tu/Th/F service or extras. Only 860/861 on the Malden Branch and 830/831 on the Caruthersville Branch (both on the Leachville Sub) were providing scheduled Daily Except Sunday service.

    As far as freight traffic goes, there were 6 scheduled trains both ways on the St. Louis Sub, 8 on the Chaffee Sub, 2 on the Hoxie Sub (Mixed 875/876) and 4 on the Leachville Sub. Much of the branchline service was either M/W/F or Tu/Th/Sa service or is simply listed as being “rendered by extras.”
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2010
  9. chris

    chris Guest

    8. 1960s Operations
    Last Updated 1-17-2003

    By 1965, the extinction of all Frisco passenger trains was just around the bend, and the River Division was no different. In fact, passenger train travel had disappeared completely. In 1961, "Sunnyland” was the only remaining train, reduced to mere reclining chair car service. Ken McElreath has shared marvelous stories of watching the “Sunnyland” in action in Cape Girardeau. By then, the passenger depot had been razed, replaced to the south by a metal-clad structure at the foot of William Street (this structure still stands today) and the original freight house to its south. Mail and express were apparently the only thing keeping passenger service alive, as 805 would stop to load and unload vast amounts of express items and the like around the noon hour, while 806 would approach from Chaffee and would hold at the end of the siding just south of the Mississippi River automobile bridge.

    Attached is a nice picture of E8A #2017 Pensive on the southbound "Sunnyland" at Landsdowne Ave., St. Louis, sometime in the 1960s.

    By 1965, the only way that passengers could travel between Memphis and Saint Louis by an all-rail route was to take “The Oklahoman” from St. Louis to a connection with “The Southland” via Springfield.

    Freight traffic was not what it had been in the, and even traffic on the branchlines was dwindling, presumably succumbing to increased competition from the trucking industry. By the end of this year, 104 miles of the Hoxie Sub was abandoned between Nash, MO and Pocahontas AR. See Table 4 for the complete list of abandonments on the division. In fact, this was the same year that the River Division, in name, ceased to exist (most of it became part of the reorganized Southern Division).

    As I lack a considerable amount of information from the late 1960s through the merger, most of the specifics from this pointon are provided by Mike Lutzenberger and posted to the Resource Center. Information from 1967 shows 2 through freights between Lindenwood and Tennessee Yard: daytime 833 and 834.

    As motive power and rolling stock maintenance operations were consolidated at West Springfield, shops in outlying portions were in their twilight. The Chaffee roundhouse remained with a skeleton crew; presumably for repair-in-place operations. The passenger depot, sans taxi stand, was relegated to use as a crew/yard office after the demise of passenger service on the division.

    See the "Physical Plant" section for 1960s-era pictures of the Chaffee Roundhouse and depot. Art Marsh has also posted picftures of a wood-sided caboose, apparently in storage in Chaffee. There are also pictures of woodside cabooses in Hayti and Blytheville.

    SLSF #2017 Pensive EMD E8A on #807 Sunnyland just south of Southeastern Jct FR193 Mike Condren.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2020
  10. chris

    chris Guest

    9. 1970s Operations
    Last Updated 10-7-2004

    By the end of 1972, the Leachville Sub disappeared between Leachville and Brooks Jct. The deteriorating elements of what had once been a bustling division point were disappearing, too: the roundhouse was demolished in the early 1970s, and I can recall the division office building being nothing more than an empty shell. However, I can remember Heisserer Oil Company’s trucks often pulling alongside locomotives to provide diesel fuel; the oil company trucks were painted in a redder shade of “Mandarin Orange” with white letter in the same style as the “FRISCO” on the sides of the locomotives they serviced.

    See pictures for SD-45 # 948, and GP38AC #638 on a foggy winter day at the Chaffee depot around 1976 - these are located in the "Prototype - Diesel Locomotives" section of the Resource Center - from my personal collection. The pictures were originally taken to be used in the Chaffee Mogul, the yearbook for Chaffee High School.

    Freight service was down to 4 trains a day - two in each direction - on average. Thanks to timetable information provided by Mike Lutzenberger, I have been able to get a better feel of 1970s action. Timetable No. 1, dated 10-17-1971 lists the St. Louis and Chaffee Subs still in existence, albeit as part of the Southern Division.

    Southbound 833 was slated to leave Lindenwood at 11:00am daily with a 2:30pm stop in Chaffee; Companion 834 was scheduled to leave Chaffee at 4:00pm daily with an 8:00pm Lindenwood arrival. Nos. 21/22 ran during the overnight hours; #21 due to arrive at 1:00am in Chaffee after a 3 ½ hour run; #22 is on the timetable arriving at Lindenwood at 7:00am after its 4-hour run from Chaffee. Since these 2 trains were not included in Mike’s list of through trains above, I can only assume that these trains would have also done any local work during the overnight hours.

    The remnants of the Leachville Subdivision were also included in the reorganize Southern Division; Parma, MO (MP 187.7) to Leachville, AR (MP 247.5); additionally, the Blytheville Subdivision included trackage from Amorel, AR to Lake City, AR.

    May, 1977 information indicates 5 separate local trains operating on the Chaffee Subdivision, and 4 locals on the St. Louis Sub. September, 1977 information posted by Mike lists Trains #95/96 between Lindenwood and Tennessee Yard as “Through Local Freights”, running at irregular intervals and operating “…with unadvertised schedules and mov[ing] traffic from intermediate points as instructed on a daily basis.”

    By 1979, there were only four daily through trains between Lindenwood and Tennessee Yards, with daily except-Sunday locals each way between Lindenwood and Chaffee. According to River Division Timetable #4, effective 4-22-1979, #833 made the overnight run south, going from St. Louis to Turrell in approximately 8 hours; companion 834 made its northbound trek in 10 1/2 hours, including a one-hour layover in Chaffee for a fresh crew. #221 left Lindenwood at 6:00am with a scheduled 4:30pm arrival at Tennessee Yard, with a one-hour stop in Chaffee. #222 only stopped off in Chaffee for a crew change around 4:00am each day, with an 11:30pm departure from Memphis and an 8:00am arrival at Lindenwood. The local trains, numbers 2010 and 2011, each left their respective terminals at 6:00am with arrivals around the lunch hour at the opposite ends.

    The only branch even listed on the River Division was the Kennett Branch, between Caruthersville and Senath, MO. This a far cry from the web of lines some 80 years prior!

    I'm told that this timetable was the last one issued by an independent Frisco for the River Division; I'm indebted to former SL-SF River Division Conductor Jerry Stroup for making it available to me.

    Ironically, the 1970s are the only years of the Frisco I remember, yet they are the years in which I am most lacking in knowledge (primarily since I model the late steam era). I’m always looking for any additional information that I can obtain so that this synopsis will be more complete.

    The following are links to pictures at the “Fallen Flags” website of late 1970s Frisco action at Chaffee. It is interesting to note that the February, 1979 pictures were taken not long after the “storm of the century,” when Chaffee received over 2-feet of snow in a 24-hour period, literally paralyzing the town. All photos are by Richard Panek from the Bill Phillips collection.

    GP38-2 #699, northbound at Chaffee. The passenger depot is visible at the right. February, 1979

    GP38-2 #699, northbound at Chaffee, just south of Yoakum Ave. February, 1979.

    GP38-2 #683 near Chaffee, MO. Appears to be northbound, near the south yard limits. August, 1978.

    GP38-2 #437, southbound, at Chaffee, MO. August, 1978.

    GP38-2 #420 at Rockview Jct., MO (SSW Crossing), heading south. August, 1978.

    More photos of River Division freight trains in action...

    GP-38 #646 at Crystal City, MO 1-3-1979 (Paul Dalman Photo; Bill Phillips Collection)

    GP-38 #646 - at Festus, MO 1-3-1979 (Paul Dalman Photo; Bill Phillips Collection)

    This picture of GP35 #729 lists the location as "Ran, MO." Since there is no Ran, MO that I can find on the Frisco, and based on the hills in the far background, this appears to be near Oran, MO on the Chaffee Subdivision mainline, especially since Mr. Dalman seems to have a few photos of the River Division. Note the foreign power in the lashup. 08/04/79 - (Paul Dalman Photo, Bill Phillips Collection)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2006
  11. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    I have added a new thread for the following synopsis of River Division operations that I put together a few years ago; it is rather old and needs updating, but in due time.
  12. C. Brandt May

    C. Brandt May Superintendent


    I was Superintendent on the River Division 1973-1974 and Superintendent of the Southern Divison 1979-1982 which included the River Division.

    In 1973 we experienced the largest Mississippi River flood to that date. The St.Louis Sub was out of service for about three months from March thru May. We restored service twice during that period only to have the river come up again. During this period the mainline was out of service from Cape Girardeau to Crystal City and for short periods from Nash to Cape and S.E. Jct. and Crystal. Generally we did not suffer much damage from the flood except in the big field between Ste Gen. and St. Marys. It was a matter of clearing the debris from the track. We did have one incident where a barge tow broke loose from the tow boat and took out about two pole lengths of the main line and siding at Neelys. As usual the Coast Guard did nothing to the tow boat operator. We attempted to sue the Corps of Engineers for damages based on the fact that the Corp constructed levees on the Illinois side constricting the flow of the river forcing the water to rise higher than ever before on the Missouri side. This was a futile effort, for we learned that the Congress granted the corp the right to damage any and all and we had no recourse. I have often wondered if the Corp offered the Frisco cash in the thirties and forties when the levees were being constructed. Given the Frisco bankruptsy in that period, if so, maybe the trustee took the cash and used it for other purposes than to raise the track.

    By 1973 the Chaffee Sub was all CTC from Chaffe to Turrell and the mainline was laid with 112# ribbon and jointed rail with a good ballast section and tie condition. Most of the sidings would hold 100 cars. Few if any slow orders occurred on the Chaffee Sub.

    The St. Louis Sub was a horse of a different color. It was laid with 112# jointed rail from Chaffee to Ste. Gen, 115# ribbon rail Ste. Gen to Crystal City, 110# jointed rail from Crystal to S.E. Jct. ballast condition was iffy at best as was the tie condition. Siding capacity was limited with Crystal, Ste. Gen., Mc Bride, Menfro, Neelys, and Cape. We had Rule 510a semiphore block signals from Nash to S. E. Jct. With the exception of Menfro and a double over wall track at Crystal sidings were 100 car lengths or less.

    I spent my two year tenure rebuilding the St. Loius Sub. Union Electric was constructing a coal fired power plant at Rush Island. The coal was to come from a mine located on the MoP in southern Illinois. The Frisco was to receive the in interchange from the MoP at Cape Girardeau. Because the unit train required servicing the Frisco agreed to service the train in the Cape yard. This required fueling and sanding facilities. It was necessary to relay the 112# jointed rail with 132# continuous welded rail (CWR) from Nash to Ste. Gen. We average inserting 1000 ties per mile in this stretch. We extended McBride, Ste. Gen and Crystal to 8600 ft. and constructed a new 8600 ft.siding at Byers. We had serious roadbed problems in the Seventy Six area with a 7 to 10 mile 10MPH perpetual slow order. We solved this problem in the spring of 1974 by unloading +/- 200 1100 ton barge loads of jetty stone adjacent to the track in this area. The roadmaster would direct the tow boat from the quarry in Columbia, Ill. to the appropriate place by radio and the barge would tie up to a tree and a small Cat would simply push the jetty stone in the river. This operation went on for several months and could only be done when the river was up.

    I can't remember when 110# rail was relayed between Crystal and S.E. Jct. but I think it was in 1974. This was second hand 132# CWR. At some later time CTC was installed between Nash and S.E. Jct.

    The ruling grade southbound on the River Dision was the 1.3% Mississippi River bridge in Memphis. If you laid down there a yard engine could drag you over the bridge. The ruling grade northbound was going up Gravois hill into Lindenwood Yard. After the siding extentions 150 to 175 car trains were possible.

    So much for now,

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2010

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