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Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri:
Railroad Articles

The Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri was edited by Howard L. Conard and published by the Southern History Company, of New York, Louisville, and St. Louis, in 1901.

The University of Missouri Library has made avilable the entire contents of the 6 volume set on its website as part of the Virtually Missouri project. The books are in a section called Missouri: Its History, Geology and Culture.

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Chicago & Alton Railway

Chicago & Alton Railway. The history of this railroad, like that of many others, affords an interesting example of the changed conditions brought about by railroads themselves, without ever intending or thinking of them. It might be supposed that the road was conceived and built for the purpose of connecting the two great cities of Chicago and St. Louis, with Alton as a way station, but it was not. When it was conceived the connection between Chicago and St. Louis did not exist. The two places scarcely knew one another. St. Louis was only a brisk, prosperous little river city, and Chicago was smaller still, with a population half as great as that of one of its wards at the present time .It was in 1847 that the road had its beginning in the Alton & Sangamon Railroad Company, chartered to build a railroad from Alton to Springfield - the cities of Chicago and St. being so little taken into account in the conception that their names, even, were not included in the name of the road. Alton was one of the most important and enterprising towns in the State, and Springfield, in Sangamon County, was the capital - and it was though advisable to have a railroad between the two. The Legislature of Illinois did not contemplate the extension of its to St. Louis, and if such a thing had been hinted at it would not have granted the charter, for an extension to a point opposite St. Louis would have been considered hostile to the most ambitious and thriving river town in Illinois, and the doctrine of "State policy," much talked of in those days, peremptorily forbade any public measure that would facilitate the transfer of business to the cities of other States. Not until 1852, six years after the charter was granted, that the road was built to Springfield. Two years later it was extended to Bloomington, and a year later still to Joliet. The Chicago & Mississippi Railroad met it at Bloomington, and this gave unbroken connection between Chicago and Alton. As the Legislature of Illinois still refused to allow the road to be extended to a point opposite St. Louis, the connection between Alton and that city was by fast packets, the passenger packet making two trips a day. The road gave to St. Louis its first rail connection with the East, for several years all travel between St. Louis and New York went over it. In 1857 the road was reorganized as the St. Louis, Alton & Chicago Railroad, but it was not until 1863 that it was extended to St. Louis and assumed its real character. In 1862 the road from Godfrey to Milton was opened, and became part of the Jacksonville line, and a branch was built from Roodhouse, Illinois to Louisiana, Missouri. In 1872 it extended its system into Missouri by building the road from Louisiana through Mexico to cedar City, opposite Jefferson City, on the Missouri, and in 1879 to Kansas City, by securing control of the Kansas City, St. Louis & Chicago Railroad. In 1879 the Chicago * Illinois Railroad was bought, and became the Coal City Branch. Occupying such an advantageous geographical position, running through some of the most fertile lands and prosperous cities of Illinois and Missouri, and linking together the three great cities, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City, the road naturally attracted the attention of capitalists, who saw in it a most desirable, if not an absolutely necessary, piece of property, for them to control in order to round out their plans and to protect their other railroad investment, aside from the dividends which the Alton property could be relied upon to supply on its own account. Therefore, during the year 1898 the bulk of the common and preferred shares of the Chicago & Alton Railway were purchased from the owners, who had held them as a permanent investment for an uninterrupted term of twenty-five years or more, the preferred shares having paid annual dividends of 7 per cent, and the common shares average annual dividends of over 8 per cent. The prices [paid by the purchasers, generally known as the "Harriman Syndicate" were $200 for the preferred and $175 for the common stock, the nominal value of each share being $100. The original owners of Chicago & Alton stock, it will be seen, were exceedingly and unusually fortunate with respect to continuous and handsome dividends for more than a quarter of a century, and excellent prices for their shares when they decided to part with them,

Now that is has passed into other hands, it is pleasant to note the faith of its new owners in the property on which they are spending millions in development. Grades are being cut down and curves are being eliminated. Large number of old bridges are being replaced with new ones. Extensions of double track are being made, and additional side tracks are being provided. New engines, new passenger cars, and new freight equipment have been added, and orders for more have been placed. Always a first-class line, the new management believe that it is capable of development beyond anything that was conceived for it by its builders. under the conspicuously able management of President Felton, the faith of the new owners in the possibilities of this splendid property is already being justified and demonstrated in large increased traffic receipts.

In the later part of the year 1899 that part of the St. Louis, Peoria & Northern Railway lying between Springfield and Peoria passed into the control of the Chicago & Alton Railway Company, and is now a part of that system. The Chicago & Alton - or the "Alton" as it is popularly called - is now a compact system, operating on both sides of the Mississippi in the States of Illinois and Missouri, with Chicago, St., Louis, Kansas City, and Peoria as its chief terminals, and it is recognized as one of the most efficient and useful of the St. Louis systems.

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Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. This system, familiarly known as the "Burlington, " is one of the largest in the country, having over 8,000 miles of road - 910 miles of which are in the State of Missouri - and extending into and over eleven States. Like many other great institution, it had an humble origin - the humblest of all the great railway systems of the West. There was a railroad from Chicago to Galena, called the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, and south of it, at a distance of thirty miles West of Chicago, was an ambitious little town called Aurora, which, in 1852, desired a branch to connect it with the main line at Turner Station. This branch, thirteen miles in length, was built by the Aurora Branch Railroad, which ran its trains over the main line into Chicago. In a little while it was extended to Mendota, forty-six miles, and the company took the more dignified and pretentious name of Chicago & Aurora Railroad Company, and three years later, in 1855, it took the name of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, which it has borne ever since, and under which it has achieved its greatness. In 1856 it was consolidated with the Military Tract Railroad Company, by which it secured an extension to Galesburg, giving it a length of 139 miles in the direction of Burlington, Iowa, on the Mississippi River. Shortly afterwards it was extended to Burlington, and also to Quincy, securing at the latter point, in 1859, the ferryboats plying between Quincy and Hannibal, a distance of twelve miles, in connection with the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad of Missouri. At that time Iowa had a population of only about 600,000 and Missouri of about 1,100,000, and beyond them there was little besides Indians and buffalo; but the "Burlington" management discerned the imperial future of that vast region, and entering Iowa at Burlington, and Missouri at Hannibal, began its career of development West of the Mississippi. Its field of operations in Missouri was secured by getting control, first, of the Hannibal & St. Joseph, next, of the St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern; next, of the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs; and last, of the Chicago, Burlington & Kansas City - these lines given it almost undisputed possession of the larger part of north Missouri. The Hannibal & St. Joseph, the first completed line built in Missouri, was itself made up of three different roads. The original Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad Company was incorporated as early as 1847. Two years later the preliminary surveys were made. In 1851 the final location was begun, and in August, 1852, a contract was made and work begun at both ends. On the 13th of February, 1859, the last rail was laid connecting the eastern and western sections, near Chillicothe, and two days after the first through train passed over the road from Hannibal to St. Joseph, - 207 miles. Subsequently, in 1872 , a branch was built from St. Joseph to Winthrop, opposite Atchison, Kansas, a distance of twenty miles. In 1867 the Hannibal & St. Joseph Company consolidated with the Quincy & Palmyra Railroad Company, and in 1870, with the Kansas City & Cameron Railroad Company. The road from Hannibal to Palmyra - thirteen miles - was opened in 1860, and the road from Cameron to Kansas City - fifty-four miles - in 1867. Two years later the bridge over the Missouri River at Kansas City was built and opened. This completed the Hannibal & St. Joseph connections, a mileage of 297 miles, with the Kansas City bridge. The next acquisition of the "Burlington" in Missouri, was the St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern, which was itself the product of consolidations and reorganizations of eleven companies - the Canton & Bloomfield, the Alexandria, Canton, Lagrange & West Quincy, the Mississippi & Missouri Air Line, the Mississippi Valley, the Clarksville & Western, the Mississippi Valley & Western, the St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern, the Keokuk, Iowa City & Minnesota, the Keokuk, Mt. Pleasant & Northern, and the Mt. Pleasant & Keokuk. The Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council bluffs, next absorbed, composed of eight roads - the Platte Country, the Atchison & St. Joseph, the Weston & Atchison, the Missouri valley, the St. Joseph & Council Bluffs, the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph, the Nodaway Valley, and the Tarkio - giving a mileage of 309 miles. The Chicago, Burlington & Kansas City Railway Company, which was next to pass into control of the "Burlington," to complete the Missouri part of its system, was made up of the Burlington & Southwestern, the Iowa & Missouri State Line, the Ft. Madison, Farmington & Western, the St. Joseph & Iowa, the Lexington, Lake & Gulf, the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Burlington, and the Chicago, Burlington & Kansas City - having a mileage of 221 miles. These several acquisitions by the "Burlington" in Missouri, although valuable and important, left its system in the State incomplete, because they left it without an entrance of its own into St. Louis. From St. Peter's, on the St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern, it was dependent upon connection with the Wabash for getting into that city, and as this dependence grew more and more irksome, with the increase of its traffic, the enterprise of securing a way of its own into St. Louis engage the attention and efforts of its management. It was determined to construct an extension from a point ten miles north of St. Peters to the Missouri River at Bellefontaine Bluffs, crossing the river there, and coming into the city from the north; and in 1892 work was begun on both side s of the river, and also construction of the bridge at Bellefontaine Bluffs. The first train crossed the bridge on the 3d of December, 1893, less than a year and a half from the day it was begun, and on the 4th of March, 1894, the extension was opened and the "Burlington" began to conduct its traffic into and out of St. Louis on its own property. In 1900 the Burlington system operated 8,063 miles of owned, controlled and leased lines, 4,313 of which are east of, and 3,750 miles west of, the Missouri River. The eastern terminals are St. Paul, Chicago, Peoria, and St. Louis and the western terminals are Denver, Colorado; Cheyenne and Guernsey, Wyoming; Billings, Montana; and Deadwood, South Dakota.

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Merchants' Bridge Terminal Railway

Merchants' Bridge Terminal Railway.- The Merchants' Bridge Terminal Railway was built in 1888 to adjust the connection of the Merchants' Bridge at St. Louis, completed the same year. Two years afterward, when the Merchants' Bridge passed under the control of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, the Merchants' Bridge Terminal Railroad was included in the transfer and is now operated by the Terminal Railway Association.

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Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad

Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad.- The Missouri Kansas & Texas is one of the great lines, originally built through Missouri to go round St. Louis, which have been forced to seek an entrance into the city. The main line, running from Hannibal, Missouri to Denison, Texas, gradually abosrbed the Union Pacific Southern bvranch, the Tebo & Neosho, Labette & Sedalia, Neosho Valley & Holden, St. Louis & Santa Fe, and the Hannibal & Central Missouri, and, in 1897, it represents a system of 2,060 miles, running through Missouri and into fertile and productive regions of Kansas and Texas.

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North Missouri Railroad

North Missouri Railroad. The North Missouri Railroad was incorporated March 3, 1851, to build a railroad from St. Charles, Missouri to the Iowa state line. The incorporators were residents of the counties on the line of the proposed route. In 1852 the charter was amended to as to allow the road to be extended to St. Louis and at a meeting of the stockholders held in St. Louis June 11, 1853, Frederick Schulenberg, Lewis Bissell, Gerald B. Allen, Thos. L. Sturgeon, Francis Yosti, Charles D. Drake, Arnold Krekel, James T. Sweringen, James S. Rollins, Calvin Case, and William G. Moore were chosen directors. John O'Fallon was made president, E. C. Willis secretary and treasurer, and C. D. Drake counselor. At the next election Colonel O'Fallon declined a re-election, and Isaac H. Sturgeon was chosen in his stead. In 1855 the company received from the State a loan of $1,000,000 in bonds for the purchase of iron and rolling stock for the line south of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, with which it made connection, and it reached Warrenton in 1855, Mexico in 1858, and Macon February 1, 1859. Under the charter ferriage across the Missouri River at St. Charles was necessary, requiring unloading cars on one side and reloading upon the other side. In 1864 the loaded cars were first ferried across the river and this method was maintained until the St. Charles bridge was built. In 1865 first mortgage bonds were issued to the amount of $6,000,000 and the northern branch and the main line to Kansas City were completed, and the proposed bridge built. The name of the road was afterward changed to the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern, and subsequently it passed into the hands of the "Wabash Railroad Company". (See Wabash Railroad).

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St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad

St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad. Among the early railway charters granted by the Legislature of Missouri was one to the St. Louis & Belleview Mineral Railroad Company in 1837, Nothing worth mentioning was done under this charter until March, 1851, when the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad Company succeeded to its rights. The original design was to connect St. Louis with the iron interests of Iron Mountain, Pilot Knob, and the mineral region of the southeast portion of the state. With the aid of a land grant, and State guaranty of its bonds in the amount of $3,600,000; the road had reached Ironton when the Civil War came on. The company made default on bond interest, and this default was repeated year after year until 1866, when the State sold the road under foreclosure to McKay, Simmons & Vogel, who in turn sold it to Thomas Allen, who organized a company and completed the road to Belmont, where it had connection with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. Subsequently the main line was built to Texarkana, Texas, and branches were constructed in many directions, until the present system, having a mileage of 1,774 miles, was completed, constituting one of the most important arms of St. Louis' commerce.

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St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad

St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad. The St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, the "Frisco Line," had its origin in the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad. (See "Missouri Pacific Railroad") When the southwest branch was sold it was purchased by John C. Fremont. He failed to meet his obligations, and the next year the Governor took possession and disposed of it to Andrew Pierce, Jr. and J.B. Hayes, who reorganized it and changed the name to the South Pacific. After that it became the Atlantic & Pacific, and when the Atlantic & Pacific was sold in 1876, the St. Louis & San Francisco took its place and property. After its separation from the Missouri Pacific it was forced to pay for running its trains into St. Louis on the division between Pacific and St. Louis, until its increased traffic compelled the extension of its own line parallel to the Pacific and almost alongside of it, into the city The St. Louis & San Francisco now has lines aggregating 1,328 miles in length, ramifying in Missouri and Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, and the Indian Territory. At one time it was connected with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.

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St. Louis Bridge Company and Tunnel Railroad

St. Louis Bridge Company and Tunnel Railroad. The St. Louis Bridge Company and Tunnel Railroad is the road betweeen East St. Louis, over the Eads Bridge through the tunnel, and St.Louis, with extensive delivery, and storage tracks on both sides of the river, controlled by the Terminal Railway Association of St. Louis.

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St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad

St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad. This road was organized under the laws of Missouri to construct a railroad from St. Louis to Union, and from that point west through Missouri, by way of Sedalia, to Fort Scott, with a branch running from some point in Missouri to Kansas City. The road was never finished further than Union, a distance of 60 miles from St. Louis. The original intention was to reach the coal fields of Morgan County, Missouri and the large agricultural section between the Missouri Pacific and San Francisco roads.

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St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad

St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad. This road, extending from Keokuk to St. Louis, is owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company and constitutes an important part of the "Burlington" system. (See "Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.")

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St. Louis, Peoria & Northern Railroad

St. Louis, Peoria & Northern Railroad. This road, known as the "Peoria Short Line", is the product of three roads formerly existing. The St. Louis & Eastern Railroad, which in 1894 purchased the St. Louis & Peoria Railroad from Alhambra, Illinois to Mt. Olive in the same state, a distance of fourteen miles, and in May following opened the line from East St. Louis to Mt. Olive, forty-seven miles. In the same year the North and South Railroad, formerly leased to the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad Company, was acquired, and the St. Louis, Peoria & Northern Railroad Company was incorporated to united these three companies and to extend the line to Peoria, a distance of sixty miles.

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St. Louis Southwestern Railroad

St. Louis Southwestern Railroad. The St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, or the "Cotton Belt Route," was organized January 15, 1891 and on June 1st following the receiver of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway Company delivered possession and control. It origin, in 1876, was in a company organized to construct a railroad from New Madrid, Missouri to Helena, Arkansas, which company consolidated with the Texas & St. Louis. In 1885 the property passed into the hands of Colonel S.W. Fordyce as receiver, but the next year was sold to J. W. Paramore, and others, styled the Bondholders' Commitee, the road now being known as the St. Louis Arkansas & Texas Railway. August 4, 1887 the Arkansas & Southern Railway Company bought the property in Arkansas, and about the same time the property of the Little Rock & Eastern Railway Company, and the consolidated company was formed under the name of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway in Arkansas and Missouri, which purchased the property of a company organized to build a road from Malden, Arkansas to Delta, Missouri, opposite Grand Tower, a distance from Malden of fifty one miles. The St. Louis Southwestern proper, operates 582 miles of main track; the St. Louis Southwestern of Texas, 551 miles; Tyler Southeastern, 88 miles - total, 1,223 miles. The directory has five members residing in New York and four in St. Louis.

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Terminal Railroad Association

Terminal Railroad Association.- When the Eads Bridge at St. Lojuis was opened its railway tracks were for a long time unused, neither Illinois nor Missouri railways having charter rights to operate except in its own territory. In this dilemma it was concluded to form outside auxiliary railroads companies under the general corporation laws of Missouri and Illinois, and to enter into traffic contracts between them and the bridge company for the performance of railway service between St. Louis and East St. Louis. Two such companies were formed, the Union Railway & Transit Company of St. Louis, under a Missouri, and the Union Railway & Transit Company of East St. Louis, under an Illinois charter. Each company organized with a capital of $250,000, which was subsequently increased to one million. The capital was mainly furnished outside of St. Louis. Within a short time after their formation these companies organized, the the direction of the bridge management, a complete service, purchased locomotives, erected machine shops and freight warehouses, and laid connecting and storage tracks for the handling of freight.

But while these arrangements took care of freight, there was no accomodation for passengers in St. Louis, and it became necessary to organize another company for the building of a Union depot. This was done and the Union Depot Company of St. Louis, with a capital of one million, was formed. This company proceeded at once to erect the (old) passenger station at Twelfth and Poplar Streets, and opened the same for regular traffic on June 1, 1875. Up to that date passengers were taken across the bridge by omnibuses.

In 1880 the capital of the Union Railway & Transit Companies of St. Louis and East St. Louis had become exhausted and as the traffic had increased to large dimensions and more ground was needed for expansion of terminals, two new auxiliary companies were formed, the "Terminal Railroad Companies of St. Louis and East St. Louis," on precisely the same terms and prinicples are their predecessors. Their joint capital amounted to about one million dollars.

Thus where were five auxiliary companies, each with its own corporate organization, board of directors, officers and stockholders, but all five operated under the direction of the parent company, the St. Louis Bridge Company, which practially paid interest at the rate of 10 per cent per annum for the use of the capital which these auxiliary companies furnished.

This lasted ten years (the limit of the lease), and in 1886 Mr. Jay Gould, whose road, the Missouri Pacific, of which he was president, had in the meanwhile become the lessee of the bridge, advanced the money to redeem the stock of these several companies, amounting in the aggregate to over #3,500,000. He further advanced whatever addiitional money was needed for real estate and for the yard and track extensions with the increased business necessitated.

As early as 1882, Dr. William Taussig, the general manager of the Bridge Company and all of the above auxiliary companies, conceived the idea of consolidating all these properties under one ownership, and to have this ownership vested in an association composed of the most important East and West trunk lines. This was effected in 1889, and the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis was formed by the following lines, seven in all: Ohio & Mississippi; Cleveland, Cincinati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four), Louisville & Nashville; Vandalia; Missouri Pacific, and Wabash Railways. At the last minute, after the contracts had been printed and agreed upon, the Vandalia (Pennsyvlania R. R.), which had been the most ardent promoter of the scheme, refused to sign, having, while trading with the St. Louis Bridge people, entered into what it conceived to be more profitable arrangements with the Merchants' Bridge. As a result of the formation of this company, with its vast capital and energetic movements, St. Louis may boast to-day of having the largest, most compact and complete terminal system of any city in the country, under one management. If afford the means of ingress and egress to twenty-two railroads; it owns, for the common, joint use of thse railroads, the lasgest and finest Union passenger station existing, and it furnishes freight facilities, storage yards and warehouses for all the vast tonnage that these twenty-two roads bring into and out of St. Louis. It owns in St. Louis, in fee or under lease, 95.17 acres, and in East St. Louis 83.40 acres of ground, operates in St. Louis thirty miles, and in East St. Louis twenty-eight miles of track, with thirty two engines of the latest and heaviest type. Its number of employees is over 3,000, and all its appliances and appurtenances are of the most advanced and modern type. The system of its tracks, yards, connections, station and approaches has become a model which many other roads in the country have copied.

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Wabash Railroad

Wabash Railroad. The Wabash Railroad comprises twenty-two corporations. Of the Eastern divisions the main line extends from Toledo, Ohio, to East St. Louis, Illinois, a distance of 604 miles. Subsequent to 1865 the North Missouri Railroad (which see) became part of the Wabash system, which afterward acquired the Brunswick & Chillicothe Railroad, the St. Louis, Council Bluffs & Omaha Railroad, and accessory railroads in Missouri and Iowa. The various roads were consolidated in 1879 under the name of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad. In 1880 it completed its St. Louis - Chicago line by securing the Chicago & Paducah, 165 miles, and in 1881 it completed its line between St. Louis and Detroit by securing the Detroit, Butler & St. Louis Railroad, 100 miles. After these successive acquisitions, the road passed through the hands of receivers, and was sold, October 21, 1889, the purchasers representing O. D. Ashley, T. H. Hubbard and Edgar T. Wells - Mr. Ashley being, in 1899, the president, and Mr. Wells vice president of the present Wabash Company. Subsequent to this sale, the system was further extended by completing the road from Montpelier, Ohio, to the Indiana-Illinois state line, which gave the shortest connection between Chicago and Detroit, and in 1898, by leasing a line between Detroit and Buffalo. The Wabash, in 1899, presented a system 2,236 miles in extent, connecting St. Louis with Kansas City on the west, and with Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, and Buffalo north and east. The general offices of the company have been, for many years, in St. Louis.

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