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Clinton Railroads:
History of the "Leaky Roof"

Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad

Preliminary Version

In the early 1880's the coal mining firm of Keith & Perry, headed by Kansas Citian E. J. Perry, began buying coal lands in the southern part of Henry County, to the west of Brownington. Perry had visions of developing a heavy traffic in coal and clay products from the lands near Deepwater Creek and sending it north to Kansas City and south to Springfield.

At the time the Kansas City & Southern RR was in the process of building its line south from North Clinton through Brownington towards Osceola. The KC&S had ambitions, but not much money, and construction work on the line had so far proceeded at a snail's pace. It's main line through Brownington was also several miles to the east of the lands Perry had acquired.

Perry concluded that the KC&S line was not the answer to moving his coal to market. Keith & Perry also had coal mining interests in eastern Kansas, along the line of the Kansas City Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, so Perry approached George Nettleton, General Manager of the Fort Scott, and quickly managed to interest him in the idea of a great coal field in Henry County, feeding traffic north to Kansas City and south to Springfield.

The Fort Scott line had started life as the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, otherwise known as the "Border Tier" from its line down the easternmost tier of counties in Kansas. It was originally headed for Texas, but lost out in the race to Indian Territory to the Missouri Kansas & Texas RR, itself another of Clinton's railroads. It reorganized as the Kansas City Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad in 1878 and turned its attentions southeast, reaching Springfield, Missouri in 1882 and Memphis, Tennessee in 1885. As a result of having originally started out as a line to Texas, the Fort Scott's main line ran south out of Kansas City to Arcadia, on the Kansas-Missouri border not too far north of Pittsburgh, Kansas, before it turned southeast towards Springfield. An alternative route through Henry County might eventually be converted into a shorter main line to Springfield and Memphis and in the mean time it would provide plenty of coal traffic and intriguing opportunities for town development.

In September of 1884 the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad was chartered to build a line from a connection with the Fort Scott main line somehwere near Kansas City, southeast to Henry County and south to another connection with the Fort Scott main line at Ash Grove, about 20 miles east of Springfield. A little investigation soon turned up the fact that the neighboring Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe RR would be only too happy to get rid of its Pleasant Hill & De Soto branch and in short order a deal was struck whereby the Fort Scott purchased the Pleasant Hill & DeSoto Railroad from the AT&SF in October of 1884. On January 20, 1885 the original KCC&S company and the PH&D were consolidated as a new Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad Company.

To finance the construction an issue of Kansas City Clinton & Springfield 5% First Mortgage 40-year gold bonds was arranged and every holder of 25 shares of Fort Scott common stock was allowed to purchase a package consisting of one $1,000 KCC&S mortgage bond and 6 shares of KCC&S common stock, for $850, under the proviso that they turn over one half of the stock to the Fort Scott company in exchange for that company guaranteeing the principal and interest on the bond issue. The Fort Scott company thus ended up owning one half the stock of the KCC&S - enough to control it - without having to put up much money.

Such complicated financial deals of this sort were common in this period, as they enabled an expanding railroad to finance the building of a branch or extension without having to directly put up much of its own scarce cash, which was in any case needed to make improvements on its own existing lines and buy equipment. The bonds were readily negotiable and actually worth somewhat more than the cost of the entire stock/bond package, so the Fort Scott stockholders could sell the bonds they received at a profit and hang on to the stock. If all went well, the road would make a profit and the stock would become valuable of itself. If not, the stock would be more or less worthless, but since it hadn't really cost anything that was no serious loss.

In the event, in its forty year history of independent operations, the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield only twice recorded an operating profit. The Fort Scott seems to have purchased all the stock in the KCC&S it did not already own around 1900 and the Frisco inherited this 100% ownership when it acquired the Fort Scott in 1901.

The Pleasant Hill & De Soto Railroad, better known to Santa Fe employees as the "Calamity Branch", was one of the last relics of the St. Louis Lawrence & Denver Railroad Company, whose greatest claim to fame is that it was projected in the late 1860's with the intention of saving 29 miles on the route from St. Louis to Denver by missing Kansas City! In 1870-1871 the line was completed from Pleasant Hill, on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, west through Raymore, Belton, Olathe, and De Soto to Lawrence, Kansas, on the Kansas Pacific and Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston railroads. Kansas City was left well off the line to the north. In 1873 an extension was completed west from Lawrence to Carbondale, Kansas (and a connection with the AT&SF) and the company was renamed the St. Louis Lawrence & Western Railroad.

The St. Louis Lawrence and Western had been projected as a small part of the epic struggle between Kansas City, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Atchison, and St. Joseph for the position of chief metropolis of the middle Missouri Valley. By 1873 the struggle was essentially over, with Kansas City the clear winner. As a result, traffic on the St. Louis Lawrence & Western never came up to expectations, as the connections east and west all preferred to handle their traffic into despised Kansas City, where better facilities for interchange were available and the presence of various competing lines provided better rates for through traffic.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Midland Railroad Company had been organized in Kansas by one Chapman, who had arrived in the area almost penniless. He took over the incomplete Lawrence & Topeka Railroad and completed it, and then proposed to build from Lawrence into Kansas City, using the St. Louis Lawrence & Western for the first 15 miles east to De Soto. Contracts were let and much construction done between De Soto and Kansas City, at which point Chapman sold several hundred thousand of Kansas Midland bonds and decamped with the proceeds, turning up some months later in Venice, Italy.

The Santa Fe was very interested in gaining direct access to Kansas City at this time, so they proceeded to acquire the Kansas Midland. For a while Santa Fe trains operated into Kansas City by using the Kansas Midland/SLL&W to Olathe and the Fort Scott line the rest of the way into the city, until in 1875 the direct route from De Soto to Kansas City was opened. The Santa Fe bought the western half of the bankrupt Kansas City Lawrence & Western in 1875 to ensure its control of the new route into Kansas City. To satisfy the bondholders in 1877 it also picked up the eastern portion of the line, which had been separately reorganized as the Pleasant Hill & De Soto Railroad. The Pleasant Hill & De Soto was of no real use to the Santa Fe and they were only too happy to dispose of the line to the Fort Scott in late 1884.

Construction work on the new Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad started in late 1884 and was pushed energetically. The route would make use of the old PH∓D line from Olathe, Kansas east to a point east of Raymore, Missouri, designated Raymore Junction, From here new line would be built south to Harrisonville, then southeast to Clinton, and then south through Lowry City, Osceola, and Humansville to Ash Grove. KCC&S trains would use the Fort Scott line from Kansas City to Olathe, and from Ash Grove to Springfield. The portion of the old PH&D from Olathe to De Soto would be abandoned, except for the track in Olathe which connected the Fort Scott and Santa Fe lines, which is still in service as an industrial line. The line from Raymore Junction to Pleasant Hill was retained but was quickly reduced to freight only service.

Tracklaying was pushed rapidly in 1885 south from Raymore Junction and north from Ash Grove. On July 27, 1885 regular service was started over the line from Kansas City to Clinton. End of track from the north reached the Osage River bridge at Osceola in early September and the tracklayers from the south arrived in November. The big three span bridge over the Osage was completed that month, and on November 27, 1885 regular through passenger and freight service was begun between Kansas City and Springfield.

The brand-new Kansas City Clinton & Springfield was outfitted with 12 locomotives of its own, numbers 75 to 86, the numbers fitting into the Fort Scott's locomotive numbering scheme. They were all 4-4-0's, or Americans, built by the Manchester Locomotive Works of Manchester, New Hampshire, in late 1884. Some time after the Frisco's acquisition of the Fort Scott they were renumbered 200-212 to fit them into the Frisco's numbering system.

The KCC&S also started out with 3 baggage mail cars, 6 passenger coaches, 100 box cars, 175 coal cars, and 8 cabooses. As far as known, the Leaky Roof never bought any additional equipment during its lifetime. Undoubtedly, its parents the Fort Scott and later the Frisco provided additional equipment as needed.

Unlike the Kansas City & Southern, which had few opportunities for town development, since most of the route had been surveyed and even partly graded built before William Bailey and then John I. Blair arrived on the scene, the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield offered considerable possibilities for profit from town promotion. The old village of Urich was located several miles north of the new railroad, so a new Urich was laid out on the line. All the inhabitants of the old town moved down to the new, which developed into quite a prosperous little town. At Osceola the KCC&S line ran to the north of the old town, and a sizable addition was laid out along the KCC&S tracks. Most of this is now gone, bought out and leveled by the Corps of Engineers in the 1970's as it was below the maximum water level on Truman Lake

The most succesful town promotion of all was at Deepwater, laid out about a mile south of the crossing of Deepwater Creek and about 3 miles west of the old town of Brownington. The town was plat by George Nettleton himself, on land that had originally been acquired by Keith & Perry. That company constructed several coal mines to the north of town and other mines were opened nearby by others, and the town grew rapidly. Shortly after the railroad was completed Keith & Perry also opened a clay tile factory to the southeast of town, making use of the area's excellent clays besides providing a market for some of the their coal, to fire the kilns. This plant was soon leased and later purchased by the Kansas City based W. S. Dickey Clay Company, and soon became their main production plant, turning out over 1,000 carloads of clay products a year.

In 1896 the Dickey plant in Deepwater burned down, but it was replaced by a new, much larger plant in 1897, which would be further expanded later to a capacity of over 3,500 car loads per year of clay products. Dickey also took over a second clay plant located to the south of Deepwater, operating it for years as the Deepwater #2 factory.

Clay for the Dickey plant originally came from small strip pits near the plant. After these were exhausted other pits were opened, on the east and northeast of town. The clay was brought to the plant by a short narrow guage tramway, one of whose lines ran up a trestle into the upper floor of the plant to deliver the clay directly to the mixing machines. After 1900, with the clay closest to the plant now largely worked out, Dickey also began bringing clay into the plant over the KCC&S line, first from pits on the Jacob Rhodes farm north of Deepwater Creek and later from several pits south of the St. Clair County line.

With all this activity, the city of Deepwater reached a peak population of about 1,500 in 1920, making it the largest city on the KCC&S not served by another railroad.

It was the clay tiles from the Dickey plant that gave the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad its enduring knickname, the "Leaky Roof". The clay tiles required no protection from the rain and so the KCC&S and its parent the Fort Scott tended to dispatch any old car that would roll down to Deepwater to handle the tiles. As the story goes, one rainy day the superintendent of the White Swan Flour Mill at Clinton, which shipped a considerable amount of its finished flour south on the KCC&S line, looked out over the KCC&S yards and saw that the road had brought down another batch of decrepit old cars. Since the mills flour output would be ruined if it got wet, the superintendent called out to his general manager "Don't send out any flour today, they've got another bunch of those leaky roofs in the yards."

That "Leaky Roof" nickname stuck to the road for as long as it ran. Officially the KCC&S in its early years was very closely associated with its parent road, the Kansas City Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad before 1888 and the Kansas City Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad thereafter, and so was often referred to as the "Gulf" or "Memphis" road. The hotel nearest the KCC&S station in Clinton was called the "Gulf Hotel" and several other towns on the line also had hotels of that name.

In 1901 the Frisco acquired control of the Fort Scott and thereby became the effective owner of the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad. The merger was objected to by many, including the State of Missouri, because it gave the Frisco control of all three of the existing rail lines between Kansas City and Springfield. For this reason the Frisco placed its KCC&S stock in trust and after 1901 tended to emphasize the KCC&S's independent existence. The "Clinton Line" became the roads official nickname and this was painted on the road's collection of side door cabooses. The KCC&S was even given its own entry in the Official Guide of the Railways, the monthly publication which carried schedules of all the railroads in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, whereas it had previously always benn listed as a part of the Fort Scott system. (It was given a spot in the Frisco own passenger timetables, however.)

On June 27, 1901, not long after the Frisco - Fort Scott merger was completed, the Frisco deeded to the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad the portion of the Fort Scott's main line from Arcadia, Kansas to Springfield, Missouri, 85 miles in length. This seems to have been done as a legal maneuver to keep the Frisco from officially owning two competing rail lines between Kansas City and Springfield, the former Blair line and the former Fort Scott, by placing the southern part of the Fort Scott route in the hands of the supposedly independent Leaky Roof. The Frisco thus only owned the Blair line from Kansas City to Springfield. The rest of the Fort Scott's line was considered part of the route from Kansas City to Texas and was all in the state of Kansas anyway. The Leaky Roof had a route from Kansas City to Springfield with a "branch" to Arcadia, but wasn't officially part of the Frisco. The transfer made no difference in the actual running of either the Frisco or the Leaky Roof; the through trains continued to run via Fort Scott and the Leaky Roof remained a secondary branch, and for that reason alone the transfer was unlikely to have really fooled anyone. The line was deeded back a little over 5 years later, on November 1, 1906, after the post merger excitement had all died down and the rival Missouri Pacific had its branch line into Springfield well under construction; it would provide a truly independent, if somehwat roundabout, route between Kansas City and Springfield.

As mentioned above, the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield RR started its through passenger operations on November 27, 1885, with one daily passenger train each way. In April of 1886 a second passenger run, from Kansas City to Osceola, was added, but this was cut back to a Kansas City to Clinton run in July of 1886, and eliminated entirely in June of 1887. North of Osceola the Leaky Roof faced the competition of the Blair line and this reduced the maount of traffic available.

The Leaky Roof continued with its one daily train each way until December of 1894, when a second train was added to the schedules again, this time running from Kansas City to Deepwater. In November of 1895 the second train was cut back to run only as far as Clinton. This service, one daily through train and one daily Kansas City to Clinton local, continued in effect until the KCC&S was in effect acquired by the Frisco in 1901. See the December, 1899 Timetable.

Although the KCC&S retained its independence after the Frisco - Fort Scott merger, and even obtained a further degree of legal freedom when the Frisco placed all of its stockholdings in the line in trust, it was operationally fairly well integrated into the Firsco system. Shortly after the merger went through the Frisco station agents at Kansas City, Harrisonville, Lowry City, and Osceola were let go, their work being taken over by the former agents of the Memphis/KCC&S, while the KCC&S agents at Belton, Clinton, and Walnut Grove were let off and replaced by the former Frisco/Blair line agents there. Connecting tracks were laid from the "Blair Line" to the "Leaky Roof" at Harlan Junction, north of Vista, and from Tracy Junction, south of Vista, back to the "Blair Line" tracks southeast of Vista. This enabled the Blair Line to abandon about 2 miles of track while running its trains through and not around Vista. This little bit of shared trackage was the only immediate coordination of trackage that would be done until the Frisco actually acquired the Leaky Roof in 1925.

Passenger operations between the KCC&S and the Frisco's Blair line were coordinated closely after the 1901 merger. Tickets were made interchangeable between the two lines, so one could take a KCC&S train to Kansas City, for instance, and return on a Blair line trip, if that was more convenient. Blair line trains continued to run out of the Kansas City Southern's Grand Central station at 2nd & Wyandotte in the north end of Kansas City until the new Kansas City Union Station was finished in 1914. KCC&S trains continued to run out of the old Union Depot until that time. This made the Blair line more convenient for the downtown while the Leaky Roof trains were more convenient for passengers making connections with other railroads.

At the time of the merger, in May, 1901, the Frisco (Blair Line) had been running two through trains from Kansas City to Springifled, with through cars on to Texas, and a daily local from Kansas City to Clinton, while the Leaky Roof had been running a single through train from Kansas City to Springfield with a local from Kansas City to Clinton. In all there were 5 trains each way north of Clinton, and 3 south, several of them running on nearly identical schedules. The second Blair Line through train and the KCC&S's local were dropped, effective in June of 1901, leaving 2 through trains, one on each line, and 1 local on the Blair line. The Blair line through train took the morning departure from Kansas City while the KCC&S through train left in the early afternoon; both trains departed Springfield in the morning.

This schedule didn't last long, and in March of 1902 the local was rerouted on the KCC&S line at Belton, apparently so it could run into Union Depot. Three years later in April of 1905 the local was shifted to run all the way on the Leaky Roof and then 3 months after this a second local was added, running on the Blair line. About a year later in June of 1906 things were rearranged again, with the Leaky Roof's local extended to run all the way to Humansville, while the Blair line local was cut back to a Belton to Clinton run in connection with the Leaky Roof's local. In March of 1908 the Blair line local was dropped and the Leaky Roof local cut back to Clinton.

9 months later in December of 1908 the Blair line local was restored. In June of 1912 a Springfield to Bolivar local was added on the south end of the Blair line and by 1914 this train had been extended north to Weaubleau and the north end local had been extended south to the same point, and a Clinton to Springfield local had been added on the KCC&S line, so there were now 2 through trains and 2 locals each way, one on each road.

This proved to be the high point of passenger service on the combined routes, for the automobile was already beginning to cut into the local traffic and bus lines were beginning to appear also. In 1915 the Leaky Roof local was converted to 3 times a week operation and in mid-1917 the Blair line local was similarly converted, so there were now two through trains each day, and one local, alternating between the two lines.

During the early years of Clinton Line's "'independent" operation there were persistent rumors that either the Clinton Line or the paralleling Blair Line would be acquired by some other railroad in order to gain access to Springfield. The Missouri Kansas & Texas was a frequent candidate for such discussions, and the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific was also mentioned sometimes as a potential suitor for the line, the more so because for part of this period the Rock Island and the Frisco were controlled by the same group.

In the end, nothing came of these proposals. For one thing,the possibility of selling the KCC&S was bedeviled by a complication left over from the road's brief control of the Fort Scott's line from Arcadia, Kansas to Springfield, Missouri. The "after acquired" clause in the KCC&S's mortgage effectively gave it a second lien on the Arcadia - Springfield line, even after it was sold back to the Frisco, so that if whoever owned the KCC&S happened to default on the bond issue, the bondholders could proceed to foreclose their second mortgage claim on the Arcadia - Springfield line, in order to recover their money. The very thought of such a complication was enough to ensure the Frisco would never seriously consider selling the KCC&S.

The second complication was simply the fact that the Kansas City, Clinton & Springfield Railroad was, literally, a railroad from noplace to nowhere. It started not at the Kansas City of its title, but rather at Olathe, Kansas, a county seat farm town of no great importance at the time. It ended not at Springfield, but at Ash Grove, Missouri, another county seat farm town. As a result, the Leaky Roof was utterly dependent on the Fort Scott, and later the Frisco, for its access to the two main cities in its title. So long as the Leaky Roof was part of the Frisco family, it was treated relatively well by its parent, but if another railroad bought the Leaky Roof line the Frisco would have no reason at all to be so nice.

Ironically, the Blair Line, another recipient of "for sale" rumors, suffered from the same problem, although to a lesser degree. The Blair line did at least run into Kansas City, but like the Leaky Roof it ended well short of Springfield, it its case, at Bolivar, northern end of a Springfield & Northern Railroad, a Frisco branch built in the 1880s that provided the actual entry for the Blair Line into Springfield. Since the Frisco had actually directly acquired both the Blair Line (Kansas City Osceola & Southern) and the Springfield & Northern something might have been worked out, but the "after acquired" clause in the Frisco's own mortgates might have derailed this, also.

In December of 1924 the Frisco formally acquired the Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railroad, that it had owned but officially not controlled since 1901. The bonds issued in 1884-1885 were coming due and there was not the slightest chance that the Leaky Roof could refinance them on their own; the Fort Scott's guarantee of principal and interest was going to be invoked and the Frisco as inheritor to the Fort Scott would have to pay off the bonds. In that case it might as well own the road outright, particularly since the potential legal problems from owning parallel routes had been eliminated by changes in federal laws in 1920. On November 30, 1925 the Frisco took over direct operation of the KCC&S line, 40 years and 3 days after it had begun regular operations.

In December of 1925 therefore, the Leaky Roof became simply the Osceola Subdivision of the Eastern Division of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad. In 1902 the KCC&S had started scrapping its freight cars when they wore out and by 1914 only 40 box cars and 6 coal cars were left of the original freight outfit. In 1923 3 of the road's locomotives and a baggage car were scrapped, also. The Frisco inherited finally 9 locomotives, 2 baggage and mail cars, 6 coaches, and 31 freight cars. Most of this equipment was undoubtedly scrapped before long, and operations on the Leaky Roof thereafter were made entirely with the Frisco's own equipment. The former Leaky Roof engine facilities in Clinton were shut down and dismantled, with all work here being shifted to the former Blair Line facilities at North Clinton.

After gaining full operational control of the Leaky Roof the Frisco immediately set about consolidating some of the trackage where the two roads paralleled each other and to make arrangements so that the Blair Line passenger trains, which now carried most of the traffic, could serve the town of Deepwater.

To reach Deepwater a 2.9 mile long line was built from a point north of Brownington on the old Blair Line, west to a point south of Deepwater, designated Deepwater Junction or Dejun, on the Leaky Roof. The line made use of the parts of the old Blair line coal spur to the Blair Diamond coal mines, and the depot at Brownington was moved from in town up to a point on the new line. On January 31, 1926 Blair Line passenger trains began using this cutoff to reach Deepwater, backing into or out of town from Dejun as necessary. They continued on to Lowry City Junction, north of Lowry City, where they went back onto Blair Line rails.

At the same time Leaky Roof trains were rerouted onto the Blair Line. Instead of running up the Clinton spur to the old KCC&S depot, trains from the north took the connection to the MK&T and ran up that line to the Frisco connection at North Clinton, stopping at the Frisco's Green Street depot along the way. From North Clinton the Blair line route was used through Brownington to Dejun, then the Leaky Roof tracks to Lowry City Junction, the Blair Line south of that through Lowry City and Osceola to Harlan Junction, and the Leaky Roof tracks again from Harlan Junction through Vista to Tracy Junction, where the Blair line turned off to the east and the Leaky Roof trains continued on south towards Collins, Humansville, and Fair Play. The Leaky Roof tracks between Lowry City Junction and Harlan Junction were taken up, and the old depot at Clinton was demolished, although the trackage in Clinton was retained to serve several oil and gasoline distributors.

1928 saw the end of the Blair lines local trains, leaving only the two through trains, with the Leaky Roof's run being made by a gas-electric motor car rather than a full train.

In 1928 the Frisco abandoned the portion of the old KCC&S from Belton, Missouri to Stanley, Kansas, including the difficult West Belton hill, with its 3% grades, by far the heaviest on the KCC&S line. This severed the original connection between the KCC&S and its former parent, the Fort Scott. The Olathe to Stanley trackage was operated as a freight only branch of the former Fort Scott line, while Leaky Roof passenger trains ran up the Blair line into Union Station. Freights on the former KCC&S line ran out of the Blair Line yard at Grandview, the more frequent Blair line trains handling the traffic north of there.

The portion of the old Leaky Roof main line from Clinton to Deepwater lasted only a few years. It was taken up in 1930 after clay stripping for Dickey had shifted from the Rhodes farm north of Deepwater Creek to pits just over the St. Clair county line. The old South Clinton Tower that had guarded the crossing of the KCC&S and MKT was shut down, and later sold to private parties, who moved it several hundred feet west to its present resting place behind an office building on Rogers Street.

Traffic continued to decline on both the KCC&S and the Blair Line, and in 1932 passenger service was discontinued on the former Leaky Roof line, leaving only tri-weekly mixed trains, running from Grandview to North Clinton and from North Clinton to Ash Grove on alternate days. The Blair line passenger train was converted to a gas-electric car - probably the same car that had handled the Leaky Roof run earlier.

Traffic levels continued to fall and the Great Depression settled on the land and the ever increasing hordes of automobiles and trucks siphoned away the local business of the railroad. By 1934 the end was at hand for the old Leaky Roof line. Traffic had fallen to minimal levels from the towns served exclsuively by the old Leaky Roof. The road's chief source of traffic, the Dickey plant and coal mines at Deepwater, were themselves in the last stages of decline, and in any case Deepwater was now served by the Blair Line tracks. The Frisco, facing increasing losses from the Leaky Roof line and itself bankrupt, in early 1934 applied for permission to abandon the remainder of the Leaky Roof line.

The petition generated much oppsoition from towns along the line but the Interstate Commerce Commission was forced to conclude that the route could not possibly be made to pay any longer. Attempts to raise money to buy out part or all of the line and continue as a short line foundered on a combination of the lack of capital to buy the line and a lack of sufficient business to keep it going. Abandonment was approved and the last scheduled train on the old Leaky Roof ran on May 28, 1934. Ironically, the north end of the old Leaky Roof was furiously busy for about a month following its official abandonement, for the State Highway Department had ordered 2,000 cars of stone and gravel for the paving of Highway 35 (now Highway 7) which paralleled the railroad between Harrisovnille and Clinton, and the Frisco had to bring in 5 extra crews to handle the gravel trains. Once they were finished, the track came up, from Belton to South Clinton and from Tracy Junction to Phenix, 6 miles north of Ash Grove, and officially the Leaky Roof was no more.

The short piece of the old main line from Ash Grove to the stone quarry at Phenix lasted only a few more years, then it too came up. This left a few bits of industrial trackage in Harrisonville and Clinton, and the Deepwater to Lowry City Junction and Harlan Junction to Tracy Junction segments that had been incorporated into the old Blair Line route still in existence. In 1978 the Army Corps of Engineers condemned 43.3 miles of the former Blair line route, from south of Blairstown to south of Osceola, as it was about to be flooded by the nearly completed Truman Dam, and the Frisco proceeded to apply for permission to abandon the route between East Lynne and Bolivar. On October 14, 1978 Frisco engine #512 pulled the last train south out of Clinton on the old Blair Line. Within a few months the rails came up on the old line, including the last major pieces of the old Leaky Roof.

The industrial trackage at Clinton and Harrisonville survived a little longer. The tracks at Clinton went to the MK&T, which removed the connections and some of the track in the early 1980s. A few bits of track still survive, buried in the weeds near Allen Street. At Harrisonville the Frisco and later the Burlington Northern operated the last remnant of Leaky Roof track as an industrial spur into the late 1980's, when falling traffic led to the remainder of the line, from East Lynne through Harrisonville and Grandview to Sheffield, being abandoned, and the trackage all pulled up.

The four-laning of Highway 7 between Harrisonville and Clinton has obliterated most of the old Leaky Roof grade, which once was visible for considerable distances on the south side of the highway. About half a mile east of the crossing of the Grand River on the new Highway 18 a line of trees stretching off to the northwest marks a section of the old grade, and still more can be found on the north side of Artesian Park in Clinton, running into Montgomery Street, which follows the line of the old grade as far as Allen Street. South of Clinton, when Truman Lake is at its normal elevation, stretches of the old Leaky Roof grade can be seen just west of Highway 13, barely above water. South of Deepwater, traces of the old line can be seen to the west of Highway 13, although a considerable portion of the old grade was destroyed during the four-laning of Highway 13. An alert watcher may also pick up the old Blair line track coming across the highway to head south for Lowry City Junction. Construction work on Highway 13 in the 1960s and 1970s covered most traces of the line near Collins, but the grade can be followed for considerable distance along Highway 123 south of Humansville through Dunnegan and Fair Play.


See also:
Kansas City Clinton & Springfield RR Average Operating Statistics
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