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The Frisco High Line


The author would like to thank Karl Brandt of Missouri City, Texas who provided a great deal of research material

This page is in the color of Frisco frieght diesels from the '50s until the mid 60's.

To begin with, please keep looking back to this page for more information. This page will be the definitve source on the net for this line of the Frisco in time.


The St.Louis-San Francisco Railroad had three lines from Springfield, Missouri to Kansas City, Missouri. One was the ex-Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis route. Another was the Kansas City, Clinton, and Springfield Railroad. This was mostly abandoned in 1934, with the line from Ash Grove to Phenix remaining until 1942 . The last was the High Line. The line was first built as the Kansas City, Osceola, and Southern between 1885 and 1889. The KCO&S went through the following stations, according to an Oct. 21, 1894 time table: going south from Kansas City

Kansas City, Grand Central Station. 2nd & Wyandotte st
Knoche Junction
Coburg Yards
Sheffield
Centropolis
Leeds
Belt Junction
Mastin Park
Missouri Pacific Crossing
Dodson
Holmes Park
Jeffreys
Grand View (later shortened to Grandview)
Belvidere
Belton
FS&M Crossing (this is the KCC&S, under control of the KC, Ft Scott & Memphis)
Harrelson
Peculiar
Gerard
Missouri Pacific and FS&M Crossing (again, this is the KCCS)
Harrisonville
East Lynne
Gunn City Crossing
Latour
Quick City
Blairstown
Maurine
Garland
Clinton
MK&T Crossing
North Clinton
Levy
Brownington
FS&M Crossing (again, this is the KCCS)
Lowry City
Osceola

The southern terminus of the road was Osceola, the county seat of St. Clair County until 1898. A connection was built to the Springfield and Northern terminus at Bolivar, county seat of Polk County.
Towns served south of Osceola were:
Harlan
Vista
Tracy Junction
Gerster
Weaubleau
Flemington
Cliquot
Bolivar (where the line was connected with the S&N)
Karlin
Morrisville
Wishart
Graydon Springs
Walnut Grove
Harold
Pearl
Willard
Ritter
De Mund
Broad Street Junction
North Springfield
Springfield
Both of these lines were under the control of the St Louis and San Francisco RR, better known as the Frisco. The line was mostly parallel to the KCCS from Belton to Tracy Junction. This line never reached primary main status. It was secondary to the Kansas City-Ft.Scott-Springfield line. This line, known as the Kansas City, Ft. Scott, and Memphis until it merged with the Frisco in 1901 carried the bulk of all Kansas City-Springfield traffic even thogh it was some 30 miles longer. Charles Winters, noted railroad historian and photographer gave the reason behind this was due to the fact that the Ft. Scott line was built to mainline status, whereas the two Clinton lines were not. When the Frisco took over in 1900, upgrading the Osceola line to mainline status was seriously considered. Capital improvements were undertaken, as letters from Frisco President Benjamin Yoakum suggest. Ft. Scott became the Northern Division headquarters, while the two Clinton lines languished in obscurity as secondary and local routes of the Frisco. The KCO&S earned the nickname "High Line" due to its track running through higher elevations in the foothills of the Ozark Mountians.

Routing changed for the High Line in 1926 when the Brownington cut-off was built between Brownington and Deepwater. At Deepwater, High Line trains operated over the KCCS to LC Junction at Lowry City. The KCCS was abandoned between LC Junction and Tracy Junction and operated over the High Line on its parallel line. The Brownington-Lowry City portion of the High Line continued for local operation only until August, 1934 mainly to service a coal mine at Tebo. In 1930, the KCCS abandoned the Deepwater-Clinton portion of its line and operated on trackage rights on the High Line over the Brownington cut-off to South Clinton, and over the MKT to get across Clinton. In December of 1934, most of the KCCS was abandoned, thus leaving the High Line as the only railroad for most of the region. The KCCS was the slower and more run-down of the two railroads. It had a reputation as a slow and pokey railroad in the towns it served. These jokes soon turned to discontent as the KCCS was abandoned. Although many of these towns wanted rail service, they could only provide mail, express and some livestock buisness. Times were changing, and most were finding it feasable to use trucks for this service. This all but signed the death warrent for a local railroad like the KCCS. Enough buisness was had on the High Line to keep it operating. Two passenger trains operated either way on the line, numbers 20 and 21. Motor Car service was tried briefly, but it could only handle one trailing car. More room was needed for express. A large express shipper was a hatchery in Clinton. It was willing to pay premium prices for this extra and faster service.

In Kansas City, a connection was made with the Kansas City Terminal Railroad where passenger trains went on to Union Station over the KCT crosstown main. Power for these trains was a light Pacific or the last of the rebuilt 4-4-0 types before they went into branchline service in Oklahoma. The Frisco serviced its own passenger power and had its own coach yard at 19th Street yards in the West Bottoms. Charles Winters reported that the Frisco would make the movent to Untion Station in an interesting way. He witnessed this pulling a transfer drag from the Wabash in North Kansas City to the MKT Glenn Park Yard in Rosedale. The rear of the southbound High Line passenger train was connected to the rear of a southbound passenger train for the Ft. Scott Line. The Ft. Scott line was the main passenger line out of KC and used larger, more powerful locomotives than the High Line, not to mention longer, heavier trains. The Ft Scott train was used to push the High Line train, locomotive and all to Union Station. The High Line train departed east out of the station while the Ft. Scott train departed toward the west. This gave the impression that the small steam power for the High Line was pulling the whole thing. Regular passenger service lasted until May 28, 1954 with the removal of trains 20 and 21. Caboose passenger service lasted until the end of all passenger service on the Frisco in 1967. Passengers could only go as far north as Centropolis, however.

The original Kansas City, Osceola, and Southern yard was the High Line terminal for freight trains. This yard was known as Coburg Yard. Later, Coburg Yard was sold to the Milwaukee Road . High Line trains then originated or teminated at the Frisco 19th Street yards in the west bottoms or at the Rosedale Yards in Kansas City, Kansas . In the Diesel era, power for the High Line was usualy a brace of RS-2s, although a FA-1 was known to operate on the line. Later years brought various GP's including the GP-9, -15, and -38-2.

The High Line lasted intact until 1979 when Truman Resivoir was opened. It had deteriorated to the condition of the former KCCS in its last years. Not enough local traffic was keeping the line afloat. The line was severed between East Lynne and Weaubeleau because of the cost of building bridges over the new lake for a marginal line. This was eventually cut back to Bolivar. The Frisco merged into the Burlington Northern System in 1980. The northern remnant of the High Line was operated as the Grandview Branch by the BN until 1986 when it was sold to the Smokey Hill Railroad Museum. They operated excursions with the last operating E6. This was the ex-Rock Island E6 formerly in Bicentennial colors. Service to Bolivar was as needed. It switched the MFA Elevator, bringing in loads of fertilizer in covered hoppers. This too was abandoned from Willard to Bolivar in 1991. The line still exists to Willard to serve the Conco limestone quarry. Ballast trains are infrequently loaded. Some local traffic exists inside the city of Springfield, including a tie-treatment plant. The High Line is now owned by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.


This is the High Line in an incomplete nutshell. Please send me any info or corrections you might have. I can be reached at jenniferandmarty@aol.com
Last Modified on August 2, 2001
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