Clinton's Locomotive Facilities

[Katy] [Leaky Roof] [Blair Line/Frisco] [Rock Island]

Missouri Kansas & Texas (Katy)

The Katy never had any major engine facilities in Clinton. When the MK&T was first built at water tank was constructed at the Grand River bridge, taking water from the river by a hand worked pump. After a while this was upgraded to a horse powered pump. Then the water station was moved to the Deepwater Creek crossing, and a steam engine installed to pump up the water. This was eventually superceded by a connection to the city water system in Clinton. (The Katy never had a water tank in the city of Clinton, it always used a simple standpipe connection direct to the city water.) There was a coal bin and cinder pit located a short distance south of the station. In 1922 fittings were installed so that locomotives could take oil fuel from tank cars here and in 1929 the coal platform was torn down. In 1953 all engine fuel and water facilties were removed.

In the 1920s the Katy built a engine terminal at Lindale, a small spot in a cornfield several miles south of Appleton City, this point between almost exactly midway between the major terminals at Franklin, Missouri (near Boonville) and Parsons, Kansas. Lindale boasted a massive concrete coaling tower, water facilities, a small freight yard, and rest facilities for train crews. For a while in the late 1940s and early 1950s Lindale was also a meal stop for the Katy Flyer, the sole passenger train using the line to St. Louis. The replacement of steam locomotives with diesel ended the need for intermediate engine terminals like Lindale and all the facilities were closed in the mid 1950s. The coal tower remained in place, towering over the corn fields, for a number of years; it appears to have been torn down in sometime in the 1980's.

Kansas City Clinton & Springfield (Leaky Roof)

When the KCC&S line was built in 1885 it was customary to change engines and crews about every 100 miles. The city of Clinton was at the mid-point of the KCC&S line, being 95 miles from Kansas City and 98 miles from Springfield, and was thus the logical location for the engine change. A coaling facility was built on the west side of the wye track running from the station south towards the Springfield line and a water column was installed. (Like the Katy, the KCC&S never had a water tank at Clinton.) Surprisingly, it was not until December of 1895 that the KCC&S actually constructed an engine house to house the engines between runs. It was located south of Allen Street, with 3 stalls for the locomotives.

The Clinton enginehouse initially appears to have done only minimal running repairs. Anything major was sent to the shops of the Leaky Roof's parent company, the Kansas City Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad, either at Kansas City or at Springfield. In May of 1901 the Frisco acquired the Kansas City Fort Scott & Memphis and the Memphis Road's shop facilities were combined with those of the Frisco, which thereafter did all major engine work for the Leaky Roof either at the old Memphis Road shop at Kansas City or at the Frisco's North Springfield Shop, which took over all the engine work at Springfield.

Although the Frisco owned all the stock of the KCC&S after 1901, it had good political and legal reasons for keeping the Clinton Line's operations separate from its own, as far as was possible. Therefore, in September of 1915 the facilities at Clinton were augmented by building a small machine shop adjacent to the engine house and a car repair shop and a motor vehicle repair shop a little ways south near Rogers Street. After this Clinton handled all running repairs on the Leaky Roof's engines and did all the car repair work. Major engine work still had to go to the Frisco shops at Kansas City or North Springfield.

In late 1924 the Frisco formally acquired control of the Leaky Roof line and in December of 1925 the KCC&S was officially leased to the Frisco for operation. Since the Frisco already had locomotive facilities at the old Blair Line yard at North Clinton, the Leaky Roof's facility was redundant. It was shut down in 1925 or 1926, about the same time as all former Leaky Roof trains were rerouted onto the Blair Line, and thereafter all crew changes and engine work was done at the North Clinton facility. The enginehouse and all the associated trackage was removed. In the 1950s a propane storage plant was built roughly on the site of the old Leaky Roof engine house.

The Leaky Roof engine facility was an engine house, not a round house. It did not have a turntable and the building was essentially square in shape. If any engines or cars needed to be turned, the wye connections from the spur to the Clinton depot were used, so no turntable was needed.

Frisco (Blair Line)

North Clinton was the starting point for construction of the earliest predecessor of the Blair Line and that road naturally established its engine facilities there. By 1885 the road had a turntable, 6 stall roundhouse with a small machine shop, coal bins, and a water tank at North Clinton. In 1888 the Blair Line was completed north into Kansas City. A roundhouse and other engine facilities were built at Coburg, on the east side of Kansas City, where the Blair Line had its freight facilities.

North Clinton was somewhat awkwardly located for the Blair Line as it existed between 1888 and 1898, as the 111 mile distance from Kansas City to Osceola could easily be handled as a single engine run, avoiding the need to change engines at Clinton. For this reason, a new machine shop was built adjacent to the Coburg roundhouse and this became the road's principal shop facility. North Clinton roundhouse remained in service to handle the runs originating in the Clinton and Brownington area, which is where most of the road's traffic came from.

Extension of the Blair line south to Bolivar and its purchase by the Frisco changed the engine equation. Clinton was 86 miles from Kansas City and 108 miles from Springfield, close enough to the midpoint of the line to be the logical place to change engine and crews. The Coburg machine shop was closed and North Clinton resumed handling running repairs. Heavy work was sent down to the North Springfield Shops of the Frisco or (after 1901) to the former Memphis Road shops in Kansas City.

On July 22, 1902 a tornado demolished the old wooden 6 stall roundhouse at North Clinton, damaging 4 locomotives in the process. To replace it, a brick 3 stall roundhouse with a small connecting machine shop was constructed on the same location. In the 1920s oil fueling facilities were installed and the wooden coaling trestle was eventually removed. Some trains even skipped the engine change to run through between Kansas City and Springfield.

The switch from steam to diesel power put an end to the North Clinton engine facilities. Diesels could easily make the run from Kansas City to Springfield without change and without the need to refuel. The last steamer on the Frisco ran in early 1952. (Because of the limited capacity of its bridges, the line through Clinton was one of the last Frisco lines to convert to diesel power.) The roundhouse was finally demolished in May, 1964 and the turntable removed. North Clinton continued to be a crew change point for the Frisco and most of the yard tracks remained in place until the line was abandoned. Traces of the brick foundation of the old roundhouse may still be seen in the gravel roadway west of the warehouse at the north end of 7th Street; the outline of the concrete turntable pit was visible until the mid-1980's in the graveled parking area north of the warehouse.)

Chicago Rock Island & Pacific

The Rock Island never had any engine facilities in the Henry County area. Engines and crews on the St. Louis to Kansas City run were changed at Eldon, roughly the mid-point of the line, where there was an extensive yard, roundhouse, and limited machine ship facilities. The roundhouse and shops went after the Rock Island dieselized, but the yard remained in service as a crew change point until the Rock Island ceased operations in 1980.

In order to supply water for the engines, the Rock Island built a dam to form a lake in the southwest part of Windsor when the road was being constructed in 1904. A pump house fed water fromm the lake to a water tank beside the tracks. The land around the lake was leased to the city of Windsor as a park and. In 1954, the need for water for steam engines having ceased, the Rock Island donated the lake and surrounding lands to the city. It was then renamed Farrington Park, for John Farrington, then president of the Rock Island railroad.


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Last modified: Monday, 02-Jun-2008 14:07:22 CDT