Trains 709/710 (Monett-Ft Smith)

Discussion in 'Ft. Smith Subdivision' started by tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018), Nov 5, 2008.

  1. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    I am working on a history of railroads in Northwest Arkansas including of course the Frisco.
    From 1948 to September trains 709-710 generally connected with the Meteor at Monett. However in the August 1963 issue of All Aboard there is a notice stating that 709/710 will no longer connect in Springfield. I have very few timetables and I wonder whether anyone could tell me when the Fort Smith-Springfield stub service began.I suspect it was short lived change.
    Many thanks
  2. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Hang on here Tom D. and see if Gordon Mott can answer your questions. He's a frequent poster on this chat board and fan of the Ft. Smith line (And I believe a former resident of the area??).

    Tom G.
  3. w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021)

    w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021) 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

  4. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    I have a couple of ETT's and PTT's from around that time, I'll dig them up, and see if they shed any light. Please scan and post the All Aboard article.
  5. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    I'm in Sacramento at the moment and don't have access to my reference materials, but I can only imagine that this somehow was connected to the fact that the operation went back and forth in the last years of service between 709/710 connecting to 9/10 at Monett, as was traditionally the case, and a period when the connection was moved to Springfield in order to eliminate a switch engine assignment at Monett. I seem to recall that at some point the SLSF got an agreement that 9/10 could pick up/set out the Ft. Smith cars from the rear of the train at Monett using the road crew with any switching done at Springfield, something made easier by the fact that the Ft Smith-St Louis Pullman had been discontinued in June of that year.

    At this point I can only speculate, but it is possible the connection moved back to Monett in August 1963 meaning that 709/710 no longer operated between Monett and Springfield and thus there was no connection there.

    I'll bet Mike Condren knows the exact answer -- you out there Mike??

  6. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    Dear Mr. Mott-Your suggestion sounds logical to me. By this time the Frisco was operating inter-divisional freights between Springfield and Fort Smith presumably due to some type of agreement with the operating unions.
    I also interviewed a REA messenger a while back. He said that the baggage cars operated from Fort Smith to Springfield. I imagine they were forwarded on the Meteor to/from St. Louis.
  7. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Gordon--I just recalled that sometime back you and I were emailing back and forth on this very subject and Mike Condren sent us an answer. I forget how long ago that was and I guess my emails from then have been deleted. Maybe you can run across them in your files.
    And to Tom D: One interesting thing I have discovered about trains 9-709-10-710 from the late 1950's era, was that a Fort Smith express car was often forwarded from Springfield to Monett (to be added to #709) on the tail end coupled behind the streamline round-end observation car! FYI.

    Tom G.
  8. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    Thanks for the info.
    Trains 709/710 as late as the early 1960s once a week carried a New York City to Fort Smith REA express car. Fort Smith at this time had a substantial furniture manufacturing business
  9. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    Do you have any details about this NYC-FSM weekly express car? I had not been aware of it and have never seen any reference to it. The furniture industry in Fort Smith was still active then, but how did this car relate to it? This is interesting.

  10. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    Here's an article from the March 2004 issue of the Scrambler monthly newsletter published by the Arkansas-Boston Mountains Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society , Springdale, AR.

    Railway Express Agency (REA) Memories

    In 1964, Richard Young was laboring at the loading deck of the Norge refrigerator plant in Fort Smith, AR The REA driver came by each day and one day mentioned that REA needed a route driver. Young, who will soon celebrate his 63rd birthday, went to REA and was hired at a monthly salary of $438.30 or double his Norge paycheck.

    Young also worked as a relief messenger on the REA baggage car that ran daily between Fort Smith and Springfield, MO. The two REA messengers were high seniority old timers who did take time off from time to time. At Monett, MO, the engine of the Fort Smith passenger train was detached and the baggage car attached to the Frisco’s Oklahoma City-St. Louis train. Upon arrival at Springfield Young would sleep over in a cheap hotel, no extra charge for cockroaches, and then repeat the run in reverse.

    Fort Smith had many companies that shipped and received items via REA. The city even had a third morning REA car from New York City that terminated in Fort Smith. The REA baggage cars were loaded at the site of the Frisco depot. Fort Smith then had several furniture companies that used REA extensively. Young mentioned the Oklahoma Smith factory (baby furniture) and the Ward Furniture Company that had large shipments to St. Louis. REA in Fort Smith even had a brief experiment with piggyback trailers for St. Louis. The piggyback service ended when REA discovered the business was unprofitable. REA also handled a lot of freight from printing companies. REA was also a major carrier of small valuable items that had to be carefully recorded and secured.

    Young explained that the mix of business originating from Frisco stations in Northwest Arkansas was diverse. It was a matter of pride that REA would transport just about anything. The messenger would handle cream destined for Springfield creameries, dogs, cats, and human remains in addition to all types of loaded boxes, crates, and barrels. Young said that the human remains were carried in a container that was covered by cardboard. The car had a strong box as the relief messenger collected receipts from on line REA agents destined for REA headquarters in New York City.

    Young also shared a story, perhaps apocryphal, of a REA employee in Van Buren who under quoted the rate on a full sized live hog. The unfortunate hog was put on a baggage car and shipped back and forth between Van Buren and somewhere to the north. After several trips back and forth, the poor porker had lost enough weight so that he qualified for the mis-quoted rate. It was then sent on to its intended destination.

    Young recalled that REA cars were painted gray on the inside. He did not recall seeing drip pans like those in the A & M baggage car. He said that cargo was separated by two by fours with the two ends being identical. I mentioned that the doors on the A & M baggage car were very difficult to move. He said the doors on the REA cars were also very difficult to move due to a lack of lubrication.

    Young’s relief messenger job ended in September 1965 when the Frisco discontinued passenger service between Monett and Fort Smith. Young left REA in 1969 as the company seemed to be having problems. He then worked at Frontier Airlines in Fort Smith and Tulsa for 16 years. He accepted an early buyout from Frontier that only nine months later filed for bankruptcy. He now works for Wal-Mart Inc in Fort Smith.

    (The Editor wishes to thank retired Frisco machinist John Furlow of Fort Smith for telling him about former REA relief messenger Richard Young )

    Addendum (Nov 2008)- Young also told me that 709/710 handled milk. He gave me a receipt showing a 1964 move og milk from West Fork, AR to Rogers, At, some 20.2 miles.
    Tom Duggan
  11. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Wonderful stuff, Tom D. and company. There's a lot of fascinating operations information there yearning to be modeled!
  12. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    You don't know the half of it! Just modelling Ft. Smith station could be fun -- sometime around 5pm the switchcrew would come down from the roundhouse with their 0-6-0 (one of the 3700's that, unique to Ft. Smith, had the headlight centered on the smokebox door) with the outbound road engine, a modernized 1040 with booster. I think already at the station (it has been 60 years, so forgive fading memory) but possibly coming with the switch engine were the coach-buffet car (normally 1602) and the Pullman (Gardone or Baroda, 12-1's). A baggage-express car was definitely already there. Train 704 (later 710) would arrive from Paris with a 1015-class 4-6-2 and the ritual was always the same -- the outbound locomotive would have already been set against the pickup bag/exp car and the switch engine would be behind the Pullman and snack car. So as soon as the inbound train stopped, the switch engine would pull back and set the Pullman and snack car to the rear of the train which, inbound, had consisted of bag/express, bag/RPO and coach. Then it would run around, couple to the inbound locomotive, double over to the middle track (there was a platform track, a middle track, and the main track), pick up the outbound locomotive and bag/exp car, set them to the train, then head back to the roundhouse with the inbound locomotive.

    This ritual didn't change with the arrivals of diesels. First, Alco 292 (later involved elsewhere in an accident and rebuilt as a a calf unit), later NW-2 304 and finally BLW 213 became the switch engines. Not long after its inaugural, the Meteor began to split its E-7's southbound at Monett with one unit going to Paris and the other continuing to Oklahoma City. This eliminated the locomotive change in Ft. Smith, but otherwise things stayed the same, including after the arrival of the E-8's after which the practice of splitting the power at Monett ceased.

    Of course even more interesting would be to model Monett around 1949, what with both the Ft. Smith/Paris and also the Joplin/Wichita trains being switched into and out of the Meteor as well as the Texas Special passing through, all in a few hours around midnight.

    Gee, nostalgia just ain't what it used to be!

  13. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    Your informative post reminds me of an interesting question regarding the last use of steam engines in Fort Smith.Lloyd Stagner in his Steam Locomotives of the Friscor mentioned that steam disappeared from the Central Division in the fall of 1950.However , I have seen a picture of a steam engine, I believe it was a yard goat, that was taken in 1951. The engine was at the Fort Smith roundhouse and steam is clearly visible. I was wondering if the yard forces just used steam from the stationary boiler at the roundhouse to heat up the steam engine so that it could do light switching chores at the roundhouse.
    What is your opinion?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2008
  14. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    This may be of some help with establishing a time frame

    The following 3500's, 3600's & 3700's lasted until the 50's:

    3540 retired 3/50
    3548 retired 9/50

    3671 retired 3/50
    3672 retired 4/51
    3673 retired 1/52
    3674 retired 2/50
    3675 retired 11/51
    3678 sold Consol. Coal 1/52

    3735 retired 7/50
    3736 retired 3/50
    3737 retired 3/50
    3738 retired 7/50
    3739 sold DV&S RR 1/52
    3740 retired 4/51
    3741 retired 1/52
    3743 retired 1/52
    3744 retired 1/52
    3745 retired 1/52
    3749 sold Ala. St. Prison 9/52
  15. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    You may be thinking of a photo that I took of 1331 on the turntable at Fort Smith with 44t GE diesel 3. I can't tell you how many times I have regretted that the date was not recorded, but I can tell you with certainty that it was after 1950. I clearly remember my father and I commenting that we had not expected to see a steam locomotive live that day, nor probably ever again. I think it was probably being used as a matter of convenience, probably not having gotten out on the road. Why they went to the bother of steaming it up is unknown, though it is not beyond my imagination that its certificate was about to expire and some of the folks there just decided that they would have one more day of steam. The fact is that we will never know the real answer. (I'll see if that photo is in Gordon's Album and if now will scan it and put it there).

  16. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Gordon -
    Great nostalgia and a wonderful historic description. That's the type of operations stuff I could imbibe all day!

    I've always found interesting the "British" model of layout design where a visible layout is more of a diorama or shadowbox, with staging or an active fiddle yard feeding both ends of the modeled portion. Ft. Smith (or a smaller portion of it) sounds like a great candidate!

    Many many thanks for the information...
  17. tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018)

    tomd6 (Tom Duggan RIP 2/11/2018) Passed Away February 11, 2018

    At the risk of perhaps stating the obvious, Dr. Nick Muff of 21310 Rolling PLace, Sedro Wooley ,WA 98284 has done a scale drawing of the Fort Smith Union Depot. The scale is 3.5 mm = one foot. I believe he has also done a scale drawing of the Frisco Depot in Fort Smith that opened in 1903. The drawings are done on some type of a special machine which produces a long print. The Fort Smith Union Depot print cost $10.00 plus shipping. The quality seems very high to this non-modeler.
  18. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Off subject a little, but how is Nick Muff's grand KCS layout (With KC Union Station!) coming along? I forget which magazine I saw it in a while back, it wasn't finished, but it looked awesome! The Southern Belle diesel cab in his train room cracks me up (I'd do the same thing if I had the room and resources--Only with a Frisco "Racehorse!" I'm waiting for the video to come out...

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2008

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