The history of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad begins in 1986 when
western giant Burlington Northern looked to shed trackage that it saw as
redundant, with one of these lines being the Frisco's former route
between Monett, Missouri and Paris, Texas. The St. Louis-San Francisco
Railway was Midwestern system that stretched from St. Louis to the deep
south ans as far west as Texas. The company had an interesting, if a
somewhat "roller coaster"-like history dating back to the Pacific
Railroad of 1849. In the 1860s it was renamed as the St. Louis &
San Francisco Railway with an expectation of connected its namesake
cities and actually reached into California by the late 19th century.
However, after a lost fight with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe the
Frisco lost its California connection.
Perhaps most interesting is that despite the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway going through a number of bankruptcies
and namings during its history, in the years leading up to the BN
buyout it was actually a quite profitable railroad due to the intermodal
movement ongoing in the the 1970s and 1980s, along with the petroleum
and chemical industries setting up plants along its lines in
Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama. When the BN sold the former Frisco line to the Arkansas and
Missouri Railroad, it turned over about half of the route to the new
shortline. In total, the A&M received exactly 133.6 miles of main
line from Monett, Missouri (at milepost 0.0 and a connection with BN,
today the BNSF Railway) to Fort Smith, Arkansas (at milepost 133.6).
Additionally, it was granted the branch from Bentonville Branch Junction
(Rogers) and Bentonville, totaling 5.7 miles length. In all, the
A&M began as a 139.4-mile railroad.
Today, the A&M has upgraded the route to continuous welded rail (CWR), enabling it to handle the heaviest freight cars
the industry now offers (286,000 pounds). Near Fort Smith the A&M
also now leases about 3.2 miles of track from Union Pacific to serve
nearby customers and overall has interchanges with BNSF, UP, and Kansas
City Southern. It carries a wide variety of traffic today from steel,
lumber, aluminum and food to plastics, sand, livestock feed, and paper.
Along with its freight services the A&M also offers transloading sites, railcar leasing, and port services.
The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad currently offers three different excursion trips, using vintage heavyweight passenger cars and one, lightweight streamlined parlor car built in the 1950s. All in all, the A&M affords some spectacular views of northwestern Arkansas that would not be available to us, the general public to see if it were not for the kindness and devotion of the railroad to put together its annual excursion trains. According to the railroad their three different excursions include the Sprindale to Van Buren route which is a 134-mile round trip that features a 3-hour layover in Van Buren; the Van Buren to Winslow route which is a 70-mile trip taking three hours and passes through the beautiful Ozark Mountain range; and finally the Fort Smith to Winslow route which travels four hours skirting along the Arkansas River.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
|Alco||T-6||12, 14-18||Ex-PRR, Ex-N&W||6|
|Alco||C424||32, 34, 600, 604||Ex-BRC, #604 Used For Parts||1|
|Alco||C420||44-68 (Evens)||Ex-SAL, Ex-L&HR, Ex-LV||11|
|EMD||SD70ACe||70-72||Purchased new; delivered 9/13.||3|
Perhaps most interesting for railfans was the A&M's once all-Alco fleet of locomotives. These consisted primarily of C420 models
although it also rosters T6s, and RS1, an RS32, two C424s, and M420s
built by the Montreal Locomotive Works. The future of this classic power, however, is in jeopardy as the railroad announced in July of 2013 that it was purchasing three new SD70ACe's from Electro-Motive, former demonstrators #1201-1203. Once these new units arrive the A&M plans to retire several of its Alcos. In any event, a trip aboard the
Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is quite an experience, aside from just
the great scenery. Riding aboard the railroad will also offer you the
rare experience of actually getting to see a working freight railroad in action, something not afforded on most other excursion trains!
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Arkansas & Missouri