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The middle portion of the Frisco's route from Kansas City to Clinton has a very complex history. It was actually composed of parts of two different railroads, the Kansas City Osceola & Southern Railway ("The Blair Line") and the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railway ("The Leaky Roof").
The Kansas City Osceola & Southern Railroad was originally chartered in 1871 as the Kansas City Memphis & Mobile Railroad. Between 1871 and 1874 the company did grading from Kansas City to Harrisonville and from North Clinton to Osceola. The company failed without laying any rails.
The Kansas City & Southern Railway was chartered in 1880 and acquired the unfinished grade of the Kansas City Memphis & Mobile. In 1883-84 it built from North Clinton to Lowry City. In 1885 it extended the line from Lowry City south to North Osceola, across the Osage River from Osceola proper, and built from North Clinton north to East Lynne. In 1889 it completed the line from East Lynne to Knoche Junction in Kansas City.
The Kansas City & Southern went into receivership and was reorganized in April, 1891 as the Kansas City Osceola & Southern Railway.
In 1897 the Kansas City Osceola & Southern signed a traffic contract with the St. Louis & San Francisco RR, calling for the railroad to be extended south to meet the Frisco's Springfield & Northern branch, at Bolivar. (The S&N line had been built in 1884). The KCO&S constructed a bridge across the Osage River and extended its line into Osceola in 1897, and in 1898 continued building south from Osceola to Bolivar.
The Frisco had been given the right to purchase the Kansas City Osceola & Southern under the 1897 traffic contract, and in June, 1900 they exercised this right and acquired the KCO&S, which thereby became the northern portion of the Frisco's Kansas City Branch.
The Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railway was organized in September of 1884 as a subsidiary of the Kansas City Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad. Richard Keith of the Keith & Perry Coal Company had interest the Gulf management in the possibility of developing the coal fields in Henry County, and the KCC&S line was projected as a loop line, to leave the Gulf road at Olathe, Kansas, 21 miles out of Kansas City, then run east and southeast to Clinton in Henry County, and then south to Ash Grove, Missouri on the Gulf's main line to Memphis.
The Pleasant Hill & De Soto Railroad, extending from De Soto (Corliss Junction), Kansas through Olathe and Belton to Pleasant Hill, Missouri, was purchased from the Santa Fe and merged into the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield in January of 1885. The portion of that road west of Olathe was torn up, and the merged company immediately set to work building from Raymore Junction (east of Belton) south, as planned. By the end of July the line was in operation to Clinton and on November 27, 1885 the entire route from Olathe to Ash Grove was opened to service. In 1888 the Gulf road was renamed the Kansas City Fort Scott & Memphis Railway, the "Memphis Road".
In May of 1901 the Frisco Railroad purchased control of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis. Instead of one line between Springfield and Kansas City, the Frisco now owned three - the Memphis Road main line via Fort Scott, Kansas, the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield via Olathe, Clinton, and Ash Grove, and the former Kansas City Osceola & Southern / Springfield & Northern line from Kansas City to Springfield via Clinton and Bolivar.
The State of Missouri was not pleased by this development, and the Frisco responded by placing all of the stock of the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield line into a trust, and leaving it as an independent operation. It even transferred control of the Arcadia, Kansas to Springfield, Missouri portion of the Memphis Road's main line to the KCC&S, so that the Frisco itself formally owned only one line from Kansas City to Springfield, the ex-KCO&S route via Clinton and Bolivar, while the KCC&S owned most of one route (via Clinton) and part of the third route (via Fort Scott). This lasted a little over 5 years until the unhappiness from the State had died down, and the Arcadia - Springfield line was transferred back to the Frisco. All through this period the Frisco continued to operate the bulk of its Kansas City to Springfield traffic on the former Memphis Road route via Fort Scott and Arcadia.
At some point after the Frisco acquired the Memphis road, a connection was installed from the Blair Line track to the Leaky Roof track at a point about 2 miles north of Vista, where the two lines ran side by side for a stretch. This point was designated as Harlan Junction. A second connection almost 7/10ths of a mile line was constructed from the Leaky Roof track about a mile south of Vista, easterly to a connection with the Blair line track. The Leaky Roof end of the connection was designated as Tracy Junction; I haven't found anything that provides a name for the Blair line end of the line. These two connections enabled Frisco trains to run through the town of Vista, which the Blair Line had bypassed to the east. The original Blair line tracks seem to have been taken out of service before line, but may have remained in place until the 1926 consolidation of facilities. (I haven't determined yet exactly when these connections where built, I believe it was in 1902 or 1903. They were certainly in place by 1909
In October of 1924 the Frisco was granted permission by the Interstate Commerce Commission to acquire and the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railway and the "Leaky Roof" was officially leased to the Frisco in November, 1925. The Frisco quickly set about rationalizing the trackage between Clinton and Tracy Junction, where they now directly controlled two parallel lines.
The Blair Line was carrying the most traffic overall, but lacked access to Deepwater, the principal source of traffic for the southern part of the line. So in 1925 a cutoff line was constructed from a point previously known as Blanchard, just north of Brownington, on the Blair Line, west to a point designated as Deepwater Junction (later shortened to Dejun), on the Leaky Roof line. This line was completed in January, 1926. The Brownington station was moved roughly half a mile from in town to the new connecting line just west of where it left the original route.
Between Lowry City Junction, a few miles north of Lowry City, and Harlan Junction, south of Osceola, the two routes were closely parallel. They diverged by about half a mile at Lowry City and by about a mile near Osceola, and in both cases the former Blair line station was much closer to the business center of the town that the former Leaky Roof station. Between the southern outskirts of Lowry City and a point about a mile north of Osceola the two lines ran side by side. The Blair Line tracks were in somewhat better shape than those of the Leaky Roof, and the Blair Line's bridge over the Osage River at Osceola was newer and stronger that that of the Leaky Roof. So the decision was made to abandon the former Leaky Roof tracks from Lowry City Junction south through Lowry City and Osceola to Harlan Junction, and run all trains on the former Blair Line tracks.
So, beginning January 27, 1926, the Frisco began using a single common route for all passenger and through freight trains on both lines. Leaky Roof trains used the connection at Allen Street in Clinton to access the MKT and ran up that line past the Frisco (ex Blair Line) depot at Green Street to North Clinton, where they joined the Blair Line. From there, trains followed the Blair Line route to the new connection at Brownington. From there trains went west over the new connection to Deepwater Junction. If they needed to service Deepwater, they ran up the old Leaky Roof line into Deepwater. From Deepwater Junction trains ran south on the former Leaky Roof line to Lowry City Junction, then continued south on the original Blair line tracks through Lowry City and Osceola to Harlan Junction. At Harlan Junction it was back to the Leaky Roof tracks for the run through Vista to Tracy Junction. Here the Leaky Roof line trains continued south on the old Leaky Roof route to Ash Grove while Blair line trains turned off on the connection to run through Weaubleau and Bolivar to Springfield.
The portion of the old Leaky Roof line from Clinton to Deepwater was retained for a while, as the Dickey Clay Company was stripping clay and coal from the Jacob Rhodes property north of Deepwater Creek on this line, and sending south to the tile plant at Deepwater. This lasted a year or two, then the Dickey company shifted to clay stripping operations to locations in St. Clair County, south of Deepwater Junction. The tracks between Clinton and Deepwater were then removed in 1930.
The portion of the old Blair Line from the start of the new connecting line to Lowry City Junction was also retained, because the Tebo Coal Company was stripping coal near the county line and sending out on this line. The Tebo mine closed in April of 1931, leaving the segment with no traffic. In August of 1934 the Frisco applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for authority to abandon this segment of the line. The petition was immediately approved, and the track soon taken out.
In November of 1934 the Frisco applied for permission abandon most of the remaining portions of the former Leaky Roof railroad, namely the northern section from Belton to Clinton and the southern portion from Tracy Junction to Phenix, a few miles north of Ash Grove. The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the petition, not without some controversy, and in May of 1935 the Leaky Roof was abandoned, and the track pulled up.
The Frisco continued to operate between Kansas City through Clinton to Springfield on the modified Blair Line route, with its two sections of Leaky Roof track sandwiched in between the three parts of original Blair line. The three junctions - Lowry City, Harlan and Vista, were junctions no more, and quickly disappeared from the timetables.
In 1978 the upcoming completion of Truman Dam would permanently flood two parts of the line, near Osceola and between Deepwater and Clinton, and at high water could also affect parts of the line north from Clinton towards Blairstown. The amount of traffic carried did not justify the high cost of building a bypass, so the Corps of Engineers applied to condemn the affected portions of the line, and the Frisco in turn applied to abandon the portion of the route from East Lynne to Bolivar. On October 14, 1978 the last Frisco train left North Clinton yard for Springfield, and by the middle of 1979 the tracks between East Lynne and Bolivar had been pulled up.
Special thanks to Karl Brand for the annotated copy of the KCC&S Valuation Map.