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Going to the 2014 NRHS Convention Day 4 6/9/2014

Neosho, Missouri to Springdale, Arkansas and The Branson Scenic Railway Trip

by Chris Guenzler

I was up at 5:45 AM at the Super 8 Hotel in Neosho, posted the story on then went to the lobby to have a light breakfast which I brought back to my room as I checked things on the Internet. I met Bob and Elizabeth at their car and we started our day with tour along the Kansas City Southern mainline down to Decatur. Our first stop was in Anderson.

The Kansas City Southern station in Anderson, built in 1910. This road was one of the neatest roads I had ever travelled since we kept on seeing signs that said vertical clearance. Then we came up to what it was; the rocks hanging over the road. I had never been on a road like this and it was quite enjoyable to take it. From there we went to Noel.

Kansas City Southern station in Noel which is also city hall. We made our way south to Gravette.

Kansas City Southern caboose 383 built the railroad in 1952. We thene crossed into Arkansas and went south to Decatur.

The Kansas City Southern station in Decatur built circa 1920.

Kansas City Southern caboose 385 built by the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway Company (part of KCS) in 1952. After retirement, it was purchased by Peterson Farms and delivered with F7A 73D.

Kansas City Southern F7A and caboose.

Kansas City Southern F7A 73D built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950. After retirement, it was turned into a slug and retired again then purchased by Peterson Farms and delivered to Decatur in 1991 for restoration.

Kansas City Southern speeder. From here we drove over to the interstate in Bentonville and stopped at McDonald's for breakfast then headed back north to the Super 8 in Neosho where I got my car and we left Neosho for our first stop in Monark Springs.

The Missouri and Northern Arkansas passenger shelter and caboose.

The replica passenger shelter built in 2000.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas caboose is really Kansas City Southern 300 built by Morrison in 1963. From here, we made our way to Wheaton.

Station and caboose in Wheaton.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas station built in 1908.

St. Louis-San Francisco caboose 1115 built by the railroad in 1946, which was donated to the Wheaton Historical Society by Heart of the Heartlands Museum members Jane and Bobby Ballard. Bob King, a retired railroad employee and friend of the Heartlands, laid the track for the caboose in the same place the rail line once ran. According to the Monett times article dated December 4, 2009, this was the first railroad car in Wheaton since the train station closed on September 8, 1946.

From here the three of us drove to Butterfield and followed the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad north to Monett. We crossed over the tracks on a bridge, looked down and saw a BNSF train then drove over by it and found ourselves standing on the platforms that were used by the passengers at the station that is long gone.

BNSF 5090 West.

Norfolk Southern C44-9W 9259. We next drove east to Aurora.

The Missouri Pacific station built in 1906.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13558 built by International Car in 1972. We had passed the locomotive while driving to the depot so Elizabeth and I went over to investigate.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas SD40 3392, ex. Union Pacific 3392 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1977. From here, we then drove down toward Galena but had to make a stop in Crane.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13418 built by the railroad in 1949. From Crane, we went down to Galena.

Missouri Pacific station in Galena.

Union Pacific 6487 North on a coal train with DPU Union Pacific 7259 on the rear. From here we drove through Branson to Hollister.

Missouri Pacific station built in 1906.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13535 built by International Car in 1971. We then drove to the Branson Scenic Railway Station to pick up our tickets for our 2:00 PM trip today.

The Branson Scenic Railroad 6/9/2014

BSRX F9A 98, ex. Maryland Area Rail Commuter 83, nee Baltimore and Ohio 369, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1951H was on the north end of the train with a consist of BSRX 8336 "Westport", BSRX 8503 dining car "Silver Chief" (former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy), BSRX 9540 "Silver Island" (former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy), BSRX 9320 dome-observation "Silver Terrace" (former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy built by Budd in 1952), parlour car "Casimar Pulaski" (former Pennsylvania Railroad), PPCX 800287 dome-lounge-coach Silver Garden (former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy built by Budd in 1952), PPCX 800603 60-seat coach "Silver Eagle" (former Texa and Pacific built by Budd in 1949), a baggage-dormitory car and BSRX GP30M 99 (former Chesapeake and Ohio built by Electro-Motive Division in 1962).

The Trip

People are boarded by ticket number and since they did not have my complimentary ticket waiting for me which I had organized a few months ago, I ended up getting ticket number 170. Bob and Elizabeth had tickets 14 and 15 so luckily they saved me a seat in the dome car "Silver Terrace".

Bob and Elizabeth on their first trip on the Branson Scenic Railway.

The view as we left Branson behind but had to stop to re-align the switch to the main line.

The Bass Pro shop dominates the waterfront landscape in Branson.

The train heading for the bridge over Taneycomo Lake.

Bob and Elizabeth getting their tickets punched by the conductor.

The view looking out of the back of the dome car.

The train going through Hollister.

This line has interesting limestone rock strata along it in places.

The Missouri Pacific Hollister station and caboose that we photographed less than an hour ago.

Historic downtown Hollister.

Turkey Creek.

A field along the tracks on a day during which we experienced intermittent showers.

The train takes one of the many curves where one can look out of the front or back of the train and see both ends.

Just another view looking back out of a non-rain dropped window at the rear of the dome.

Entering Crest Tunnel, a 3,485 foot bore completed in 1903.

Inside Crest Tunnel.

Exiting Crest Tunnel.

A look at the front of the train.

A look at the rear of the train.

The train entering Cricket Tunnel, a 2,746 foot bore completed in 1904.

Inside Cricket Tunnel.

Exiting Cricket Tunnel.

The Branson Scenic GP30M leading our train south.

The train crosses Barren Fork Trestle, which is 913 feet long and 125 feet high.

Heading toward Walnut Creek Trestle.

The train went out onto the 474 foot Walnut Creek Trestle which is 113 feet high. This is as far south as the train goes from Branson on each trip.

A northbound picture as I was waiting for the train to return to Barren Fork Trestle.

Our crossing of Barren Fork Trestle on the return trip. It had been a very enjoyable trip aboard the Branson Scenic Railroad and Bob and Elizabeth really enjoyed it as did I. I was the first person off the train when we returned to Branson as I had an NRHS safety meeting to attend in Springdale, Arkansas at 7:00 PM and drove back through Hollister to US 65 South into Arkansas then turned west on US 412. I was making such good time that I then took Arkansas 303 up to the War Eagle Mill and was very glad I did when I saw it. I came here because due to my train riding, it would not have been possible to visit here otherwise.

War Eagle Mill

War Eagle Mill History

War Eagle Mill is the only commercially operating waterwheel mill in Arkansas, and is believed to be the only undershot water wheel currently in operation in the United States. The mill is still powered by an eighteen - foot cypress waterwheel, recently rebuilt. Today, the mill still produces stone ground flour, used by restaurants throughout the region. The Mill describes their flour as coming the "War Eagle way - stone ground slow to preserve all the nutrients and the deep, rich taste. Our farmers are committed to maintaining a natural, organic environment for growing grain and work hand-in-hand with us to shorten the time between the field, the milling process and your table." Visitors can buy flour and other local foods and crafts, tour the mill, or eat in the Bean Palace Restaurant on the third floor of the mill. War Eagle Mill is also the site of one of the largest fall craft fairs in the Ozarks. This fair covers several area farms and visitors come from worldwide to buy the best of native crafts.

The history of the mill dates back to 1832, and begins with Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn. Married young, the Blackburns decided to move from Tennessee to make their own fortune. Locating the War Eagle Creek valley in Arkansas, they built a wood house on top of the little hill next to the creek, a house so well built that it is still in use today. To survive, they planted corn, but found that the closest mill was 25 miles away at Richland. They then built their own mill, attracting a great deal of business from their neighbors.

J.A.C. decided to give up the mill so he could run for the Arkansas Senate, and sold the mill to a family named Kilgore. They operated the Mill until 1924 when it burned down again. This time, it was not immediately rebuilt. However, in 1973, Jewel Medlin purchased the property. The family (Jewel, his wife Leta and daughter Zoe Medlin Caywood) researched the mill's history and found blueprints for the third mill. They decided to rebuild the mill for the fourth time, with a change back to the undershot waterwheel that Sylvanus had used over 100 years earlier. Zoe Medlin Caywood headed up operations of the mill until 2004, and wrote the War Eagle Mill Cookbooks using mill ingredients.

In 2004, the mill was sold to preservationists Marty & Elise Roenigk who had relocated to nearby Eureka Springs and were restoring several of the fine old hotels there. Through their efforts, the mill has continued to prosper as its products have reached new markets.

The War Eagle Mill.

The historic bridge from below.

I then walked across the bridge to the west side, as most visitors do.

I paused to look at the water wheel which was fascinating to watch going around and around.

The famous view of the War Eagle Mill that almost everyone photographs.

Another view of the waterfall and the War Eagle Mill.

The War Eagle Barn.

One last view of the War Eagle Mill.

A view looking up War Eagle River.

Looking downstream. From here I drove into Springdale, stopped at McDonald's which messed up my hamburger order as they put cheese on it which I cannot eat, then checked into the Executive Inn for my stay here. I then labelled the pictures and did most of the manipulations so Elizabeth could type the story later. I went to the NRHS safety meeting at the Holiday Inn then came back to the hotel, went to Walgreens to get some Off Deep Woods repellent to protect me from tics and chiggers. I returned, there was a knock on my door and Elizabeth typed my story.

While we were doing that, we checked the score of the hockey game as NBC had the game on NBC Sports Network which most hotels and most people in America do not even get. So I wonder if NBC can work out why the ratings of the hockey game are so low on NBCSN. By the way, the Los Angeles Kings won Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals 3-0. I went to bed a happy LA Kings fan tonight in Arkansas. Tomorrow the 2014 NRHS convention would officially begin.