Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, hasn’t it? Oh well, hopefully now I can get back into it!
This post is titled “And another one bites the dust…” because the world is losing yet another rail line to the “rail-trail” program. The Rock Island St. Louis Subdivision has fallen. This line, originally started by the St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado, was bought by “The Rock” in 1901. At that time it only connected St. Louis to nearby Union, but was extended to reach Kansas City, a project which was completed in 1905. At this point, however, the MoPac, Wabash, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy lines had already been in service for some time, leaving the Rock Island to pick up the scraps. The line was a costly one; having to cut across the Ozark plateau, it required the use of many tunnels and bridges (many of which still exist). This was too much for an already-struggling railroad, especially on what it considered to be a secondary mainline. By 1980, the Rock Island was a thing of the past and its holdings sold off. The St. Louis Southwestern bought the St. Louis Sub, but it did not continue through-service. In fact, it decided to remove all service in 1984 in favor of trackage rights on the former MoPac (now Union Pacific) between St. Louis and Kansas City. Eventually, the UP merged with the Cotton Belt (or, more accurately, its successor road Southern Pacific). The line was later acquired by Ameren Corporation, which operated the line under its Missouri Central subsidiary in the late 1990s, but using only the portion between St. Louis and Union (most of the rest was now dormant and more or less abandoned). This same portion is currently leased by Ameren to the Central Midland Railway, a subsidiary of Progressive Rail, Inc. The rest of the line, however, has been in the process of being torn up for a few months now for conversion to rail-trail, with some sections already being completed.
Here are some pictures I took of the line through Gerald, Missouri, this past December, before the line was torn up.
I have this last word to say to any fellow Missourians who hate to see this line go: while the rest of the line passes into history, we can take comfort in the fact that the Central Midland still stands strong, and that at least some of the line will endure.
Thanks for reading, and, until next time, happy rails!