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Frisco - Great Plains-West Rail Galleries
St. Louis - San Francisco

Frisco History: Battler and Survivor

The story of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company - known to its mid-South neighbors as Frisco - is a narrative of battles against long odds and of adaptation to changing circumstances. The Frisco was chartered in 1849 as the Pacific Railroad of Missouri, when discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California fanned America's long-smoldering desire for a connection with the markets of the Orient. Construction began in 1855, but bogged down until the Civil War ended. In the meantime, marauding bands of bushwhackers and jayhawkers that terrorized much of Missouri during the war did considerable damage to the railroad. As a result, it went bankrupt.In 1876, the southwest branch of the Pacific was purchased by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. Cherokee Indians successfully blocked survey and construction work on the line, dashing the dreams of a transcontinental railroad. Although it remained unable to complete its line through Indian Territory, Frisco was able to extend its trackage to Sapulpa, west of Tulsa, in the 1880s. After the turn of the century, Frisco completed its line through Kansas and Oklahoma, and into Texas. In 1901, it moved into the Southeast. The Frisco finally fulfilled a long-awaited dream of constructing a link to the Gulf of Mexico in the 1920s, only to plunge into bankruptcy after the Great Depression. The railroad struggled through the grim years of the Depression by abandoning much of its branch lines, and was there when the nation called on it during World War II. Closing of the East Coast sea lanes by German U-boats put oceans of Texas and Oklahoma oil onto Frisco rails for movement eastward. When BN acquired the Frisco in 1980, it added not only a strategically located railroad, but a proud tradition as well. (source: BNSF)

#1522 lit by the dying rays of the sun at Lincoln, Nebraska -- 6/14/95 - T. Greuter Photo

the St. Louis - San Francisco #1522

In June of 1995 the Frisco 1522 charged into town on the Burlington Northern mainline, to run 3 days of excursion rides between Lincoln and Omaha during the annual "Haymarket Heydays" and BN's 125th Anniversary in Lincoln celebration. This classic steam engine came to life in 1926 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the St. Loius-San Francisco Railway - better known as the Frisco. It's classified as a mountain-type with it's 4-8-2 wheel arrangement. It's restoration is considered to be one the finest in the country. 1522 is the only operational mountain-type locomotive in existance in the U.S.

The Frisco once depended on 1522 to handle important long-haul passenger trains such as the Kansas City-Florida Special, or the occasional assignments to the Meteor and Bluebonnet between St. Louis, Oklahoma and Texas. By 1951, the age of diesel had dawned and the 1522 was retired, donted to the Natonal Museum of Transport in St. Louis County, Missouri in 1959. In 1985 a private, not-for-profit, volunteer organization -- the St. Louis Steam Train Association -- began the painstaking task of restoring the massive engine to it's former glory. Three years, 40,000 man-hours and over $180,000 in parts later, the 1522 was reborn.

Since 1988, the locomotive has been leased from St. Louis County by the St. Louis Steam Train Association for rail trips in cooperation with various railroads and excursion trip sponsors.

More at SLSF #1522

SLSF 876 - Wichita, Kansas; November 2001 - T. Greuter Photo ·

SLSF 9198 - at Lincoln, NE; 4/30/96 - T. Greuter Photo

SLSF 100086 - 50' Flat at Lincoln, Nebraska - T. Greuter Photo ·



Recommended Links:
Frisco 1522 Official Web Site

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Latest update: Thursday, 13 November, 2003

All photos & text 2000-2003 T. Greuter / Screaming Eagles , unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.