Missouri Interurban and Streetcar History

Published: June 11, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Aside from suburban operations located around St. Louis, Missouri contained little actual interurban development.  However, there were a handful of local streetcar systems which popped up here and there.

Among interurbans, these systems included the 79-mile Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Railway (the state's largest), 11-mile St. Joseph & Savannah Electric Railway, Southwest Missouri Electric Railway (partially located in southeastern Kansas), and Joplin & Pittsburg Railway (also partially located in southeastern Kansas).

In total, Missouri contained 128 miles of interurban systems, most of which was gone by the 1930s.  The Joplin & Pittsburg, however, continued to operate part of its system for freight service until 1951 according to Dr. George Hilton and John Due's book, "The Electric Interurban Railways In America."

159283627836869297680270938.jpgA postcard scene of the St. Louis, St. Charles & Western at the station in St. Charles, Missouri, circa 1915. This suburban line served St. Louis and was abandoned in 1932.

Joplin Street Railway

The Joplin Street Railway served the City of Joplin, as its name implied.

The railroad operated under several different names following the Joplin Street Railway such as the Joplin City Electric Railway, Joplin & Galena Electric Railway, Southwest Missouri Electric Railway, and Southwest Missouri Railway.

Streetcar service remained until 1940 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.

Springfield Traction

Springfield Traction was the third company to operate a railroad originally built by the Citizens Railway, which began operations in 1880.

Springfield Traction took over in 1895 and was the final company to operate the line although it did come under different ownership during this time (the Federal Light & Traction Company and Cities Service Company).

Streetcar service survived until 1937 when it was discontinued in favor of buses.

St. Joseph & Savannah Interurban Railway

The St. Joseph & Savannah Interurban Railway began operations in 1911 connecting St. Joseph and Savannah on an 11-mile railroad. It remained in operation until the late 1930s when the service was discontinued.

St. Francois County Railroad

This interurban was the state's only located in its region. It opened on December 22, 1904 connecting De Lassus, Flat River and Farmington.

The line was able to establish interchange service with the Missouri Pacific allowing it to develop some carload freight traffic.

This business allowed the company to remain in business after passenger service was discontinued in 1927. It eventually converted to diesel locomotives and remained in operation until 1957.

Mexico Investment & Construction Company

The MI&C opened in 1915 serving Santa Fe, Mexico, Perry, and Molino on a system that stretched 25 miles.

It was never very profitable from the outset due to the small towns it served and only remained in operation until 1918 when operations were abandoned and sold for scrap.

Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph

The KCCC&SJ, despite its name was situated primarily in Missouri. It connected Excelsior Springs, Kansas City, and St. Joseph and was the state's largest interurban by far.

It originally opened in 1913 operating a system covering 158 miles. It was fairly profitable until the Great Depression when it was hit hard by the loss of traffic. By March, 1933 the entire operation was abandoned.

St. Joseph & Savannah Electric Railway

The StJ&S's only connection to the outside world was through the KCCC&SJ at St. Joseph. It operated an 11-mile system that also served Savannah, opening in 1911. Operations remained until the mid-1930s.

St. Louis, St. Charles & Western Railroad

The St. Louis, St. Charles & Western Railroad served the St. Louis area beginning operations in 1902. Its time was short as it was taken over by the Missouri Electric Railroad in 1908.

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