Base measures 3-3/8" wide
Top rail just under 2" wide
|The following excerpts were
taken from "Trolley through the Countryside" by Allison Chandler, (Sage
Books, Denver, 1963)
1907The next electric line event of importance came on March 14, 1907, when the Girard Coal Belt Electric Railway Company was organized in central Crawford County by residents of the county seat Girard, using only local capital. James McFarland was made president of this company. Power was furnished by a company-built pant erected beside the Girard municipal plant so that steam could be purchased from the municipal plant for the 150 kilowatt, 500 volt power unit. This line was presumed to have been completed during the year 1907. Its main track extended due east of Girard to Ringo, then northeast to Edson, Franklin, Arma and Croweburg, just three miles from the Kansas-Missouri state line. A spur line ran southeast from Ringo to Radley and Dunkirk.
1909The year 1909 started off in grand style for the Joplin & Pittsburg Railway Company when on January 15 that system purchased the Girard Coal Belt Railway Company of Crawford County. The consideration was $150,000. A busy period followed and in that same year a trolley line was commenced at Twentieth and Broadway in North Pittsburg and built eight miles north to Franklin where it hooked up with the newly purchased Girard line.
1910In 1910 the Joplin & Pittsburg line became and remained Kansas' most extensive interurban system, claiming more miles of trackage than any other line and hiring more employees than any other electric trolley company in the Sunflower state. And its payroll vied with that of several of the steam lines in the Pittsburg vicinity, as evidenced by a payroll report in the Pittsburg Headlight for the week ending November 19, 1910. During that period the Joplin & Pittsburg line paid its employees $6,022. In the same period the Santa Fe payroll in Pittsburg was $4,000 and the Missouri Pacific allotted its employees $7,000.
The J & P maintained twenty-nine stops on its fourteen-mile northeast trolley line from Pittsburg to Mulberry via Franklin and Arma. These stations in heir order were as follows: Downtown Pittsburg, City Limits, Smelters, Stone Quarry, Lone Elm, Kerr, Frontenac Station, Frontenac Junction, Dobson, Four Corners, No. 12 Stop, Gaskell, Devlin, Santa Fe No. 17, Craig, Wall Street, Franklin, No. 15 Road, Arma Limits, Arma Station, Ridgley Station, Clark, Croweburg Station, Russell, Breezy Hill, No. 10 Mine, Nesbitt, City Limits and Mulberry.
Among the fares on the Pittsburg-to-Mulbery route were the following: Pittsburg to Frontenac, eleven cents; Pittsburg to Franklin, twenty-six cents; Pittsburg got Arma, twenty-nine cents; Pittsburg to Croweburg, thirty-five cents; and Pittsburg to Mulberry, forty-four cents"
The Joplin & Pittsburg company recognized twenty stops along its nine-mile Girard to Franklin route in the northwest portion of its trolley empire. These stops included the following: Girard, City Limits, Decker, O'Donnel, Robinett, Cornelius, Park Hill, Raymond park, Bryon, Page, Bennett, Angelo, ringo, Mine No. 45, Central Building Home, Edson, Semple, Weir No. 21, Big Shoe, Western No. 16 and Franklin.
The one-way fare from Girard to Ringo was fifteen cents, from Girard to Edson, eighteen cents and from Girard to Franklin, twenty-seven cents.
Grace VanBecelaere, last treasurer of the Joplin-Pittsburg system, recalls that in its heyday the interurban company boasted regular depots on the Air Line route at Kniveton, Asbury, Waco and Carl Junction with agents in attendance. A t other points, according to Mrs. van VanBecelaere, drug stores and cafes in the towns served as ticket-selling points.
The J -P system had numerous little wooden shelters along its lines where passengers might wait" recalls the former company treasurer, but only one stone shelter. That one was at rock Lodge near Waco, Missouri, in the jack mine and chat pile area.
Another feature of the line recalled by Mrs. Van VanBecelaere was the type and arrangement of power generation for the huge two-state electric trolley system. In her own words, Mrs. Van VanBecelaere remembers: "The company had a steam generating plant in Pittsburg, one in Franklin and one in Scammon where we generated our own electricity to furnish power to the trolleys. In the early 1920s the power houses were abandoned and the power houses transformed into substations. Power to these stations were furnished by the Kansas Gas and Electric Company for all company lines excepting the Joplin line. This source of power continued into the early 1930s when the company turned to gas-electric motive power and the trolley lines were taken down.
Acts of violence and catastrophies, some deliberate, some accidental, visited the J & P frequently during its years of turbulent existence. According to the Charles Hickman thesis, on June 23, 1910, only months after the interurban system had reached maturity, someone brought about an effective razing of the Arma station house and restaurant. Dynamite was placed under the one and one half story structure and detonated.
1912A final near flood of note was caused by heavy rains on April 25, 1912, and several J & P lines suffered washouts.
1914Protests of passengers to J & P rates were aired out in 1914 when on May 5 the Kansas Public Utilities Commission sat in on a hearing as to whether or not to allow rate decreased on the trolley line. reductions were finally allowed June 16, although some groups of passengers were not satisfied. The J & P company later appealed the commission's decision.
1918In 1918 even the chief executive of Kansas came into the J & P picture when miners of the Pittsburg district backed protesting citizens by writing Governor Arthur Capper a strong letter protesting poor J & P passenger service.
On December 20, 1918, a J & P car and a Santa Fe train were involved in a crash at Franklin. The interurban company subsequently sued the steam line company for $30,000 damages. On September 24,1920, the Federal railway Commission notified the Joplin & Pittsburg company that its suit had been settled. The Santa Fe was to pay the J & P damages total $2,500 and bear all court costs.
An aftermath of this 1918 Franklin crash came to light in April, 1921 when Mrs. Louise Leanik, who had lost an arm in the accident, was granted damages totaling $6,250 from the Joplin & Pittsburg company and $3,750 from the Santa Fe to total a $10,000 award
1919On March 15,1919 a new rotary converter was installed at the Franklin power plant of the company and the poor service on that portion of the J & P system was greatly improved. Power shortage had been causing much of the transportation trouble and its resulting protest by customers of the line.
Interurban service and passenger revenue were directly effected by a twenty-two-state coal strike in late October, 1919. The Kansas strike in the mines began early in November, but miners went back to work on November 11. The strike was resumed December 4, and the military was eventually ordered to take over the mines. The strike was finally called off December 27, with Kansas mines and the J & P resuming regular activity on that date.
Regardless of where the blame lay, with management or with labor, it can be said with surety that the Joplin & Pittsburg Railway Company experienced more strikes than all the rest of the Kansas interurban lines combined. The J & P system could point to at least eleven separate strikes or walkouts by company employees within a span of eleven years. It is well to qualify this statement with the report that during all eleven or more sessions of labor difficulty, there was no recorded instance of actual violence against the company.
The final recorded strike occurred in August, 1919. With the modernization of the physical properties of the company automatic machinery had been installed on the Franklin, Asbury, and Turkey Creek power plants and on August 2 un-needed men of the Franklin plant were laid off. On August 9, accompanied by men of the Scammon, Asbury, and turkey Creek plants, the men who had been retained t the Franklin plant went on strike, stopping car service on most of the line. For four days the company operated as best it could on reduced power, but by August 13 the striking men had been wooed back to their jobs by the company promise of fair arbitration. The arbitration board eventually found for the company, decreeing that the J & P had never relinquished its inherent right to adopt new inventions and more economical appliances. The en who had struck voted to press the matter no further. On January 30,1915, a J & P car o the Girard line on entering the town of Franklin skidded into a freight car. Two people were injured, one quite seriously Litigations were paid as late as 1921 on this wreck.
1921A series of robberies on cars in November and December 1921, led to a request by motormen that all J & P motormen be commissioned deputy sheriffs after one trolley car had been held up twice at the same stop in a short time. Direct action was soon taken and through a special arrangement between the interurban company and Sheriff Milt Gould of Crawford County, all motormen became deputies December 21,1921.
On June 13, 1923 the jitney problem reared its ugly head for the third time in J & P annals when John Fenimore and John P. Curron of the interurban company requested a Pittsburg ordinance to exclude jitneys from all streets traversed by J & P cars. The ordinance was granted and even went so far as to bar interurban jitneys from Pittsburg to Fort Scott, Frontenac, and Arma from these particular streets.
Passengers were offered a forty mile north and south schedule between Joplin, Missouri and Mulberry, Kansas, via Pittsburg. Air-line cars offered patrons a one hour and one quarter schedule from joplin the twenty seven miles into Pittsburg, the first car leaving Joplin at 6 am and the last leaving that city at 11:30 pm. At Pittsburg northbound passengers changed to smaller interurbans and enjoyed an hourly schedule from Pittsburg north to Franklin and Mulberry, the first car leaving Pittsburg at 5:30 a.m. and the last interurban leaving that city at 10:10 pm. likewise, passengers on the Girard-to-Franklin east and west line in Crawford County were given an hourly schedule, the first car leaving Franklin for the six mile run to Girard at 7:00 a.m., the last car leaving Franklin at 11:00 p.m.
Reverse schedules on these same runs gave J & P passengers hourly service from Girard to Franklin and from Mulberry to Pittsburg, as well.
1925During the summer of 1925 the J & P attempted to rejuvenate its Pittsburg properties, markedly in need of repair. Rail joints were re-spiked and sadly needed pavements repairs were made.
Hickman's findings quoted the Pittsburg Headlight on June 19, 1925, to the effect that there had been a shrinkage of more than $2,250,000 in the valuation of electric railways in Kansas for 1924. The J & P valuation was reported as dropping from $1,447,394 in 1924 to $1,033,413 in 1925.
The Hickman thesis further revealed that the Saturday and Sunday half-price fare reduction, extended on some lines in 1924, had by July, 1926, been offered patrons of the Mulberry and Girard lines in he northern portion of the J & P system.
A further discouraging note was reflected in a January 30,1925, declaration by Judge Van Vaulkenburgh that the J & P would be sold in the near future at public auction. A minimum price of $350,000 was set. Receiver McLean bid the line in at $350,000 and declared he presented Chicago bondholders. However, this group could not assume responsibility of the road at this time, so the J & P was left in the hands of the company. Back tax trouble also gnawed at the trolley company in September, 1925.
A final fire of consequence happened November 16,1925, when the Franklin station and confectionery burned to the ground.
Late in July of 1925 a four to seven inch rain descended on Bourbon, Crawford and Cherokee Counties. More than 1,000 feet of J & P air line track was washed out between Pittsburg and Asbury. A ll lines of the company stopped operating except the Columbus line, which had an old and solid roadbed. Schedules were disrupted only a short time until repairs could be made, but he process of putting J & P tracks back in shape was deemed costly.
1926The Pittsburg Headlight of September 17,1926, announced that all lines of the J & P system, which had long since given up its half-hour schedules in favor of hourly service, would carry thirty-minute service Saturdays as an accommodation to shoppers. The same newspaper announced that the Joplin &U Pittsburg company had applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to sell $5.00 commutation books at a ten per cent discount. This request was granted October 4 and the sale of the books at a discount began the following day.
Hickman's report indicated that by November, 1926, the J & P was embarking on a retrenchment program in earnest when the company requested Public Service Commission approval to take up two of its less remunerative lines: the nine mile Franklin-Girard line in Crawford County, which passed through Edson, Washer, and Camp 51; and the five-mile Scammon-Mineral line in Cherokee County, which passed through Carona and Roseland.
A slight bit of good news cheered J & P officials on June 10,1926 when the company was notified that its assessment for tax purposes in Crawford County of $713,329 for 1925 had been reduced to $422,504 for 1926.
1927On January 7,1927, the Public Service Commission heard the important J & P applications to pull up the Scammon-Mineral and Franklin-Girard lines. Cherokee County officials strongly protested such a move, fearing that J & P track removal on the Scammon-Mineral line might lessen their chances of collecting back taxes owed by the interurban company. During this hearing Judge Greenleaf said of Kansas electric railways: "Interurban companies all over the state are in bad financial condition as is shown by the fact that all but two are in the hands of receivers." The hearing also brought out the fact that the Sunflower state then possessed thirteen electric railways with 517 miles of track.
The court listened sympathetically to the J & P line abandonment request and then ordered all freight and passenger service discontinued on the Scammon-Mineral line. No decision was mentioned on the Franklin-Girard line, nor was there any mention of track abandonment on either line.
On July 23 the interurban company again petitioned the Public Service Commission to discontinue passenger and freight service on it's Franklin-Girard line and also on its two-mile Cherokee-to-Fleming spur.
February 21,1927, brought one of the final bits of legislative irritation to the staggering electric railway when the county seat town of Girard moved the company off the north and east sides of the town square to make room for a new white way. The terminal for the J & P was retained on the southeast corner of the square.
1929May 14,1929, proved a crucial day for the J & P when the line was actually sold at auction. Although there were several bids with provisions attached, the winning bid of $115,00 was made by John A. Fenimore, representing a group of Pittsburg business men who did not want to see the once powerful 110 mile interurban and street car system completely junked. On May 29 notice was received that the sale had been confirmed by the Federal District Court in St. paul, Minnesota.
On June 5,1929, the Joplin-Pittsburg Railroad Company was organized with a capitalization of $200,000 and received a Kansas state charter. This was the company which was to survive a near quarter of a century of existence of predominant freight service over a portion of the original 110-mile route.
While the Joplin & Pittsburg Railway Co. was sold at auction May 14,1929, and the Joplin & Pittsburg Railroad Co. was organized June 5 of the same year, the J & P interurban days were not over. In fact, the company survived nearly an additional quarter of a century of competition with steam roads and trucks primarily as a carload freight hauler in the mining district of Jasper County, Missouri and Cherokee and Crawford COunties, Kansas.
On June 1, 1929, the solo remaining passenger trolleys operating on the J & P lines were the Pittsburg street cars and the four mile run from Pittsburg north to Frontenac. By that time the company had gotten permission to quit operating the five mile Scammon-Mineral mine and had long since requested that it be allowed to abandon the Girard-Franklin line and the short Fleming-to-Cherokee strip of track.
1930One of the first strips of J & P track given up in Crawford County after the 1929 reorganization was the four mile Franklin-to-Ringo route, abandoned by early 1930. The five-mile Ringo-to-Girard portion of the line survived until sometime later, as did the two-mile Fleming-to-Cherokee line. The last to go in the northern part of the J & P transportation empire was the twelve-mile Frontenac-to-Croweburg line via Arma and Mulberry. This left a single track main line of 27.37 miles in the three counties, plus something like ten additional miles of spurs and sidings. Rail interchanges were retained in Pittsburg, Frontenac and the Waco area.
The coal and chat business of the J & P sustained the greatly curtailed activities of the original Goliath of Kansas interurbans long after passenger revenue had virtually ceased to exist.
1950As late as March, 1950, the J & P was still operating 37.67 miles of track and "operated for carload freight only".
1953Finally in October, 1953, the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce voiced the opinion: The Joplin & Pittsburg railroad is in the process of liquidation" The railroad in the past twenty-five years was a one-man operation, carrying mostly chat and servicing establishments here in Pittsburg with switching facilities.
1954The J & P finally was sold late in march, 1954 to Human-Michaels of Chicago and S. A. Rose Iron & Metal Company of Pittsburg as joint purchasers. Actual dismantling work on the line was begun in April as evidenced by a page one article in the April 27,1954 issue of the Pittsburg Headlight which read "Old Joplin-Pittsburg railroad Is About to Become Only Memory: Rails Being Plowed Out in Final Move".
The old Joplin-Pittsburg railroad is defunct-technically. But they're still burning up the rails ---actually.
Rails of the abandoned line are being taken up and with amazing speed considering the bulky 30 foot material. crews have taken up the rails from Waco to a point near the crossing on West Fourth in 30 days. This involves a distance of about 16 miles.
The line isn't to be junked. It is understood the steel rails will be sent to rolling mills and reclaimed as "relay" - rails that can see much more service.
In the process of cleaning up the crews are actually burning their bridges behind them. Operating from a work train that involves the engine, two cars, a ramp and sled, the rails are taken up as the train moves forward, dragging the sled.
of the Trolley
ran down the west side of 69 Highway. J & P railroad later
used this line. Memory of Frances O'Blak
|There was a street car track
of Battitori’s(Manci’s) that ran from Franklin to
Memory of Rosemary Manci Guffy and Mother Mary Manci Boswell
|I can recall scrounging
through the old "trolley
station. Memory of John Ponce