Springfield Coal Trains

Discussion in 'Freight Operations' started by mark, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. mark

    mark Member

    In his posts of station plats on the Frisco's Ash Grove Subdivision, Karl noted the many coal mines, load outs and interchange points at the stations along the route.

    Some of this coal moved between these points to Springfield, MO. The Frisco served 2 power plants owned and operated by the Springfield City Utilities Company. These plants are known as the James River and Southwest Power Plants.

    The James River Power Plant opened in 1957 with 2 units (46 megawatts). Additional generating units were added in 1960 (44 megawatts), 1964 (60 megawatts) and 1970 (105 megawatts). This brought the operating capacity of the 5 units to 255 megawatts. The Southwest Power Plant opened in 1976 with a capacity of 195 megawatts. The plants have a dual fuel capacity, both natural gas and coal.

    In times of high natural gas prices, the railroad operated coal trains to service the city owned utility plants. A primary mine load out point was on the Ash Grove Subdivision from Garland (MP 109.1). Please see http://www.frisco.org/vb/showthread.php?t=4370.

    On the southeast side of Springfield is the James River Power Plant. This plant is on the James River, adjacent to the dam that forms Lake Springfield. It is located on the Springfield Subdivision, Ozark Branch at the railroad station Kissick (MP 249.1). It is served by stub end spur tracks that are switched off the main / siding back into the plant grounds. There is also a track into the plant for occasional delivery of equipment.

    On the southwest side of Springfield is the newer Southwest Power Station. This plant is on a several mile spur line south of the Springfield Subdivision. There is a connecting track just west of Brookline (MP 247.2). This spur hooks south on bridges above U.S. Highway 60, then turns southeast to the plant. This line features a return loop and several spur storage tracks at the power plant. At the plant the utility also owned, for occasional in-plant movements, an EMD SW-1.

    There were 2 train pairs that would alternate travel between supplying the power plants owned by the city utility. Coal would be stockpiled at the plants for several trips, then the train would alternate to the other power plant. As these trains cycled they were designated GKU / XKU and GCU / XCU. The designations indicated the originating station, Garland (G), and the destination Kissick Utilities (KU) or City Utilities (CU) for the Southwest Power Plant. The X designation denoted the respective empty returning train.

    Originally these trains were powered by pairs of GP-7s. These were replaced with mainly paired GP-38-AC and GP-38-2 locomotives, but other 4 axle locomotive models were occasionally used. The train sets originally consisted of 70 ton, 34' twin hoppers from the SLSF 90000 - 93000 series. In the mid to late 1970s, these cars were replaced with 100 ton, 50' three bay hoppers in the SLSF 87000 - 89000 series. The trains typically ended with a wide vision caboose from the SLSF 1200 or 1700 series.

    Operationally GKU would run into Springfield yard. A new crew would take the train down the branch for switching and spot the cars at the plant. It would then return with the empty cars (XKU) from the prior train. The newly assembled train would be inspected by carmen in the yard, power would be serviced and replaced as needed. Then a new crew would make the mine run for loading and the process was reversed.

    The GCU inbound trains often would not go into Springfield Yard (SY). Instead the crew would run around the train using the double track and crossovers west of the yard near Nichols. A new crew would take the train out to the power plant for unloading. Stored cars might be picked up, but most often the train would be dumped on the loop and then return to SY (XCU). The train would be inspected by carmen and the units serviced at the shops. Then a new crew would take the train back to the mine for loading and the process reversed.

    Today the regional area mines have closed due to relatively inexpensive, low sulfur content western coal. Now unit coal trains operate from the Powder River basin supply the utility's needs. With the narrow James River valley the Kissick plant is still supplied with a run-around move from the main / siding. The tracks in the plant have been replaced with expanded coal storage piles. A new rotary dumper with conveyor was built on the main / siding as the line no longer extends south to Ozark much beyond the plant. Adjacent to the Southwest Power Plant, an additional new coal fired plant was started in 2006 known as SW2 (Southwest Power Plant 2). It is nearing completion with the coal handling system expected to be operational in September and power generation expected by December 2010.

    Hope this helps.


    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2010
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  2. pbender

    pbender Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Unless they have replaced it in the last 3 years or so, the James River plant does not have a rotary dumper.

    The dump house actually contains a pit and a car shaker. There is a photo of the dump house in post 7 of this thread:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
  3. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    Here's a grab shot of the CU's SW-1,683 at the Springfield Shops. It was buried among all the Frisco power, and I almost missed it. This should be early spring 1976?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
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  4. pbender

    pbender Member Frisco.org Supporter

    It looks like 683 to me.

    Thanks for posting this.

  5. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    I found another of the CU SW-1; this one was taken in front of the Diesel Shop

    Attached Files:

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  6. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    So this unit operated at the Kissick plant?
  7. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    The SW Plant
  8. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    During 1976, Springfield’s “City Utilities” had recently completed Southwest Power Plant. At the time, there was a big kerfuffle with the Federal Energy Administration regarding the use of natural gas vis a vis coal at the Springfield power plants. CU had to scramble in order to find coal sources to provide the fuel. For a time, CU had even contemplated mining its own coal from an abandoned strip pit, which was located near Brookline. The Pennsylvanian channel deposits found in the area may contain coal, but the areal extent of any coal deposit would not provide sufficient reserves to feed the power plant. Ultimately CU contracted with a mine near Garland, KS to supply coal, and the coal was transported to the power plants by the Frisco. The story is much longer, and a bit out of scope, but it was an interesting time for CU.

    In order to move the hopper cars around the power plant, CU invited 5 companies to offer bids to sell the city a yard engine. Only one company replied, and after negotiations with Whisler Equipment of St Louis, both parties agreed to a price of $38,000, delivered. The locomotive was delivered to the Frisco’s Springfield shops for repair and a paint job. The city paid the Frisco $12,000 for painting and repairing the locomotive.

    Image my surprise during 1976, when I spied this diminutive EMD switcher idling by the Springfield Diesel Shop. EMC/EMD produced the 601, SW-1’s between January 1939 and November 1953. The SW-1 had a 600 HP, EMD 567 prime mover, which was more than adequate for use at the power plant, and the 30-foot wheel base permitted a minimum radius of about 105 feet. The SW-1 produced 49,500 lbs of tractive effort.

    The CU 683, nee TRRA 503, was one of eight, SW-1 (Ph1) locomotives purchased under equipment order E313 by the TRRA for use in the St Louis area. The TRRA retired the locomotive during 1972, and sold it to Precision National Corporation (PNC), which sold it to Whisler Equipment for scrap. CU bought the derelict locomotive during 1976. I don’t know why CU picked the number 683 for its one and only railroad locomotive.

    The CU 683 was not the last SW-1 to pass through the shops at Springfield. During 1978, the Frisco needed new locomotive to replace its aging, GE 45 ton switch engine. The number 11, nee AT&N 11, was built August 1941 to serve the car ferry to Blakley Island, Alabama. A small locomotive was needed at this location, and so the Frisco replaced the number 11 with a SW-1, which it purchased from PNC. The “new” SW-1 was painted in the O&W livery, and it received the number 10. The number 10 was built for the Great Northern during September 1941 and numbered 5103; then GN 77; then BN 77; then Walla Walla aValley 77; then to PNC; then to SLSF 10; then back to BN 70; then to BNSF 3300; then to US Borax 70.
  9. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Interesting stuff here.

    Any idea if the service for either plant would have picked up loaded cars at Arcadia from the Mackie Clemons mine on the Parsons Sub?
  10. Thanks for the info and picture Karl.
  11. gna

    gna Member Frisco.org Supporter

    The SW-1 was so called because it had Six Hundred Horsepower and a Welded frame. The NW-1 had Nine hundred horsepower and a Welded frame. There were cast frame models, the SCs and NCs.

    I still see an SW-1 at a grain elevator near here.
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