Sunday, December 28, 2008

The KCS and Heavener (Part 5)

Here's another blog about the KCS.  I think there may be one more if the readers will tolerate it.  I grew up in a two-generation railroad family.  Not only was my father a conductor for the KCS in freight service, my grandfather, Frank Bissell, was a brakeman in passenger service.  During World War II many, many troop and munitions trains passed through Heavener.  The crews for these trains were the same crews who operated the civilian trains.  Civilian travel was restricted because of the priority given to military needs.

The trains took young men off to boot camp as shown below and transported the soldiers across the country as needed.  Sometimes the troops were mixed in with civilian trains but often they rode on dedicated trains.  I can remember being at the depot with my parents when troop trains passed through.  Because Heavener was a division point the trains stopped to change crews.  Some times local citizens would distribute cookies, sandwiches, and other goodies to the young men.  My grandfather told me it was very hard for him to watch the young men go off to war because he had both his sons in the service. (My uncle Ray was in the 5th Air Force in the Pacific and my uncle Roy was in the Army in Europe.)  He also acquired a set of the wildest stories imaginable from the antics of the soldiers.  However, very few (if any) of these stories can be repeated here in polite company.

Some times we would get a troop train of a different sort.  German prisoners of war were transported by rail to inland camps to make escape more difficult.  For the most part these prisoners caused no problems.  While the picture below is not from the KCS (actually it is a POW train in Europe, note the single wheels under the cars) it is illustrative of the mode of transport used in many cases.  The other mode was to use a regular set of passenger cars.

The third form of military trains was the munitions trains.  Again, this is not from the KCS but we did see train after train pass through with armaments of all kinds on them.

The next and final blog I will do on the KCS will deal with the controls used to ensure safety of operation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The KCS and Heavener (Part 4)

OK, because some of you asked for it, here is another blog about the KCS.

Of the three major parts of a railroad train only one remains today in essentially the form it was in during the 1940s—the cars (tankers, boxcars, gondolas, flat cars, etc).  And even they have had a significant change in that the journal bearings have been replaced with roller bearings (see last paragraph below).  In previous blogs I wrote about the locomotives that pulled the trains.  In this one I will talk about the part of the train that has disappeared—the caboose.

The engineer, the fireman, and the head brakeman operated from the locomotive.  The caboose was the workplace of the conductor and the rear brakeman. 

The interior of the caboose was a very sparse site.  Only the essential tools to allow the conductor and the brakeman to function were inside the caboose.  (See picture below,)

Most cabooses had a pot bellied stove.  It was used to keep the rather poorly insulated caboose livable for the men working there in the winter.  In the summer their only recourse was to open both windows and the doors on the caboose.  However, this created such a draft that it made it hard for the conductor to do his paperwork. The conductor had a small desk on which to write and store his papers. His chair was usually loose and sometimes it was even a swivel chair that made riding over rough tracks very interesting.   The bay windows located on either side of the caboose were used to view the train but afforded a good view only when the train was going around a curve.  Toilet facilities were primitive and consisted of an opening through the bottom of the caboose to the tracks below.

Life in a caboose had some challenges.  Each coupling on each car has some slack in it.  The slack in each coupling is on the order of 2 to 4 inches.  Now when you consider that there were sometimes 150 cars in a train, the total slack added up to 300 to 600 inches or 25 to 50 feet.  When the engine began moving it started one car at a time so by the time the caboose started moving the engine had traveled 25 to 50 feet and was moving at speeds close to 10 miles per hour.  The caboose then got a near instantaneous acceleration to that speed and imposed a vicious sudden jerk on those inside it.  I rode on a caboose a few times and learned to brace up whenever I heard the slack being taken out of the train in front of me.  I remember my father coming home one day with a severely swollen ear caused when he fell as the caboose began moving.  He slid across the floor until his head was jammed under the stove.  Fortunately it was summer time and the stove was not in use.

Railroad men were (and probably still are) great practical jokers.  The desk in the caboose provided my father with a chance to play a practical joke on his rear brakeman.  This particular brakeman had made the mistake of letting the rest of the crew know that he was deathly afraid of snakes.  So one day on one of the local runs the crew happened to spot a rattlesnake near the tracks while switching cars.  The brakeman could not stand being near the snake so he moved to the other side of the train.  Dad then looked until he found another snake nearby—a blacksnake.  He caught the snake and took it inside the caboose and put it in the desk drawer.  Some time later he asked the brakeman to get something out of the desk drawer.  He told me he was highly amused the sight of the brakeman trying to decide if his chances were better to remain in the caboose with the snake or to jump off the train which was moving at about 35 miles per hour.  Not content with scaring the brakeman once, a few days later Dad made a simulated rattlesnake rattle.  You have all probably made something similar.  A rubber band is passed through the holes on a button.  The band is then stretched between the sides of a hairpin and the button is twisted until the band is tight.  The whole thing is then placed in an envelope so that the button will not untwist the band.  Having made one up, Dad then told the brakeman that there was a letter from the Trainmaster in the desk addressed to the brakeman.  Of course when he opened the envelope he heard the simulated rattle and once again contemplated leaving the caboose.

In the midst of all the kidding around the crew did perform useful duties.  One thing they had to do was to look for hot boxes.  Old time cars used journal bearings packed with oily string to provide lubrication.  If the amount of oil in the packing got too low the bearing would begin to heat up.  Eventually it would be running red hot if not caught soon enough.  By using the bay windows on each side of the caboose they scanned the length of the train for smoking or glowing journals.  A few years later a series of infrared scanners was located at axle height to automatically scan each journal as it passed.  Technology eventually eliminated the problem by the use of roller bearings.

The old "Oil Branch"

As I have mentioned in past blogs, the first house we lived in in Heavener was out on the Waldron Road. If you came north from our house the first cross street you came to was the street that went west across the lower RR Crossing. After you made the turn from Waldron Road and started west you came to the bridge across the Oil Branch, next was the corner where the old Blacksmith Shop was.

One year we had lots of rains, it rained so hard that the Oil Branch rose up and became a raging Branch. It was overflowing at every turn it made.

I don't remember how my sister, Janie, became lost but she was lost during all of that. The neighborhood and anyone else that could be used was out looking for her. Dr. Harvey was also involved, he sat down there on the bridge over the Oil Branch watching and waiting to see her come by in the raging Oil Branch.

I don't even rember how she was found, but she was OK and all ended well.

Another time when we lived just east of the Fire Department which was located across from the Heavener Library and the steam cleaners. The Hughes, lived just east of the Fire Department. The Oil Branch ran between our house and the Hughes'.

One year the rain was so much it filled the Oil Branch to raiging level and it overfloled so much that it flooded the area between us and the Hughes and even left water marks up under our bedroom windows. I don't remember any damages to the house. We moved shortly thereafter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Times

John's blog reminded me of when we first moved to Heavener. We lived out on the Waldron Road in a small house. We had a potbelly stove in the livingroom for heat. Dad would keep that thing glowing red hot in the winter. Mercy!
We didn't have a phone and there was no TV at that time. For family entertainment, sometimes Dad would bring home a 50lb. bag of peanuts. Mom would rost the peanuts and we would spend the evening eating peanuts and singing songs.
I remember one Christmas that there didn't seem to be much around the tree and we were all together singing and all of sudden there was a noise outside. Dad went out and started bringing our Christmas presents in. It was a great Christmas, I got my red wagon a Radio Flyer, Mercy!

Christmas memories

With Christmas coming this week, it seems to be coming in like the March winds. Fast and furious.

Not that I have a long list of memories about Christmas, but I do have a few. Christmas is supposed to be a fun time of the year and to celebrate our Lord. I’m thankful for all I’ve received over the years, including Cynthia, my daughter, to Cynthia’s daughter and son, not to mention my two grandsons and two granddaughters. They are all special and part of a what has been a good life.

As a kid growing up, Mrs. Eaton was always part of our Christmas every year, for as far back as I can remember. Mrs. Eaton was a special friend who lived a couple houses away and someone whom I went to visit very often. We (I) also had to use her telephone whenever we had a real need to call anyone, because we didn’t yet have a telephone. I don’t know if Mrs. Eaton was in on an inside joke or not, but one time my dad dressed up as Santa Claus and snuck up to the window outside and peeked inside as I was opening presents. At the time, it almost scared me to death. By the next Christmas I had forgotten about Santa’s impromptu visit, but I don’t think I ever again left him cookies to eat or milk to drink.

Another time, I remember being heavy into the scouts and mom and dad got me all kinds of BS (Boy Scout) stuff. You know, cooking utensils, cups, forks, plates, etc., to use on camping trips. Mike Mattison and I got a bushel load of things to use, then for some unexplainable reason, we both quit the scouts a month or so later.

I got the usual things a kid gets; pistols, Army men, and all sorts of play things, such as a bicycle. It came to dad’s work, at Bill Hembree’s Chevrolet garage downtown. Dad put it together and painted it real nice, seems like turquoise with white fenders, then put a basket on it for me. I rode it everywhere in the neighborhood, to Morris Creek (for swimming) and even as far as Lake Wister (for meanness). Russell Walker and I used to ride out to Morris Creek to go swimming all the time, and I rode it to Lake Wister with Jerry Hughes, until my mother came along and made us (me) ride our bikes back. I remember crying all the way back, because I figured I would be in serious trouble. I don’t really remember getting into trouble, although I’m sure I did.

Such was life as a kid.

When I was in the Air Force stationed at Altus , OK , I remember my wife and I had a big Christmas party and there were so many people there, the party spilled out into the street, and all the people, including me and my wife, were literally dancing in the street. Never mind that it was bitter cold and snowing. That seemed to be okay in my military days.

Such was life in the military.

Note: To all the Heavener bloggers, and anyone else that stumbles across this blog, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And to all a good night.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The KCS and Heavener (Part 3)

At the risk of boring people I am sending along another blog on the KCS.  I’m having fun writing this series on the KCS and Heavener.  I hope you readers are too and will contribute your memories via comments or a complete blog.

Life in a railroad town was controlled by the timing of the passage of the trains.  When I was a boy there were only two crossings to go from the west side to the downtown area.  The one at the south end of town was added later.  There was a third but it was (and is) located near the junkyard (now near the fueling site for the KCS).  Of course, for those of us who walked, we found ways to cross at other points.  But, driving a car was at the mercy of the trains.   Whenever a long train was stopped to change crews it was not unusual to have both crossings blocked. Among kids I knew, there was always talk about how to get under a train stopped or slowly moving (!) and blocking a crossing.  The prevailing wisdom was to lie down just outside the track and then roll rapidly under the train in the space between the front and rear trucks.  I’m sure some venturesome kids did just that but none got hit while I was in Heavener.

An even more pervasive influence on our lives was caused by the sounds of the trains as they passed through or worked in the Heavener yard.  Early on, I learned the whistle codes: two shorts meant the train was going to move forward; three longs meant it was going to back up; two shorts, a long, and a short meant it was whistling for a crossing; and four longs meant “repeat”.  The whistles were loud enough to be heard all over Heavener but most of us just tuned them out.  I don’t recall the switch engines using the codes religiously but I expect they did do it some of the time.  Whenever an engine was stopped the sound of the air compressor that compressed the air for the brake system could be heard and always reminded me (as a small child) of what I thought a large panting, fire-breathing dragon would make.  Even the small four-coupled (0-4-0) switch engines stirred my imagination with this sound.  Then, when the train was ready to move, the loud noise (sometimes a hiss, sometimes a roar) of the steam being released to blow the liquid water out of the cylinders would resound along the tracks.  While the engines had large steam whistles that had pronounced “personalities” dependent on the engineer activating them, the caboose had a small whistle that used the compressed air from the brake system.  It produced a shrill, much less harmonic, sound than the engines.  This whistle was used by the conductor and/or rear brakeman to convey information to the head end crew.  The other sound that remains in my memory is the one made when the drivers slipped on the tracks.  The resulting “bark” out the stack of the engine was unique as the engineer rapidly reduced the throttle.  In the Heavener yard the track was scarred many times as the slipping wheels generated “burn spots” on the tracks because of the heat associated with the slippage.

The next significant sensed effect of the trains on the town was the odors.  The acrid smell of coal was always around the depot and yard.  It mingled with the tangy smell of creosote used to preserve the wooden ties.  Smells near an engine or railroad car also had touches of hot oil.  Each of the journal bearings on the locomotive was oiled at short intervals of no more than 100 miles.  The roundhouse had all these odors plus an ever-present smell of hot metal.  It was not unusual to have four or more engines in the roundhouse quietly panting away.  Most firemen prided themselves on producing a nearly smokeless stack.  But, whenever flue cleaning sand was injected into the hot section, there was a large cloud of black smoke and cinders belched out of the stack.  The smells associated with this were also pretty strong.

In addition to the financial impact of the KCS via the pay to the workers on Heavener, there were some other benefits not usually acknowledged by most people.  One of these was the ice plant at the north end of town.  While a town the size of Heavener might have had a small ice plant, the one in Heavener was much larger and, consequently, provided ice at lower rates than most plants.  The ice plant provided ice for the “reefers” (refrigerated cars) that were used to haul the vegetables, fruits, and meats.  One of the sidelines of the ice plant was to sell watermelons in the summer.  The melons were always super cold because they were kept in a cooler at the plant.  Most people never saw anything about the ice plant except the cooling tower used to reject heat from the water.  However, whenever there was a leak in the ammonia (refrigerant) lines everybody within several hundred yards knew about it.  Another benefit to the town was the taxes paid by the KCS that were used to support the schools. 

Every kid in Heavener, at one time or another, placed a penny on the tracks to be run over by a train.  The resulting flattened piece of copper could usually barely be identified as a penny but sometimes the images and lettering were preserved and were legible.  I guess it depended on how many of the wheels ran over the penny before it was knocked off the track.  At the time I was cautioned by adults that it was illegal to deface money.  I think that was a fabrication that developed in an effort to keep kids away from the tracks when a train was passing.

Incident at the lower crossing

It was late at night when we had gotten back late from an away football game. Johnny Haynes was taking me home and we were both pretty tired boys. As we approached the lower crossing we both knew there was a train comming but we could not see it. Johnny had this old Ford that had the vent window on the passenger side broken out. So when the engineer blew the train horn (it was diesels by that time) we heard it through that broken window and we thought it was comming from the north. Buuut, it was comming from the south and did not have the big headlight on for some reason. Anyway Johnny and I both saw it at the same time and we were already encroaching the RR tracks, as we both looked up the engine was moving slowly but would have hit us had Johnny not jumped on the gas and we jumped across the tracks. Unfortunately there was a small creek on the other side that had a bridge with railings built with RR ties. Johnny couldn't see or have time to keep from hitting the railing on the north side of the road. We came to a stop with his car hanging off of the north side of the bridge. I couldn't get out on that side and had to crawl over and get out on the driver's side.

It was a close call but our Guardian Angles were on duty, again!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The KCS and Heavener (Part 2)

“Carl? Carl? Are you awake, Carl?” came through the window of my parents’ home on the Independence Road at about 1:00 AM.  ”Yeah, I’m awake,” came the reply.  “Well, you’ve got 41 at 3:30 this morning.”

This kind of conversation was a routine occurrence when I was a child in the 1940s.  We did not have a telephone so that was the way that the KCS notified my father that he was to take a freight train south to Dequeen, Arkansas.  The callboy would sometimes have to scratch on the window in the winter to wake my father.  I shudder to think what would happen now if someone actually came to a window in Heavener and began talking through it in the middle of the night.  Most likely the least they would get is a visit by the police and the worst might be a bullet in the head.

The KCS operated a wide variety of steam locomotives in the 1940s and early 1950s.  The largest were the 2-8-8-0 Mallets (also known as Bull Moose) which were articulated so that the curves could be more easily negotiated.  The nomenclature refers to the wheel arrangement; in this case, two pilot wheels, eight drivers powered by two cylinders, eight more drivers powered by other steam cylinders, and no trailing wheels.  Mr. Deramus despised trailing wheels, preferring to keep all the engine’s weight on the drivers.  He reluctantly used pilots since the early Mallets with a 0-8-8-0 (Angus) wheel arrangement were limited to about 20 mph.  The most impressive locomotives were the J-class (class generally refers to a grouping of different designs that can substitute for each other in service) 2-10-4 (Texas) engines built by the Lima Works in Ohio I mentioned last time. (I guess that Mr. Deramus made an exception in trailing wheels for this one because it was so good otherwise.)  They were incredibly fast and were limited on the KCS by the track conditions.  They developed about 93,000 pounds of tractive effort and weighed too much for the bridges south of Dequeen.

At least two freight trains ran north and south each day. They were numbered 41 and 77 for trains departing to the south and 42 and 88 to the north.  At one time, I think, there was a third pair using another set of numbers that I don’t remember.  Odd numbers always meant they were traveling south and even numbers meant north bound.  In addition, there were sometimes extra trains operated using a temporary number.   It was possible to tell an extra train by the two white flags mounted on the front of the locomotive.  Regular trains flew green flags.  Three passenger trains (numbers 1 and 2, 15 and 16, and a set I don’t remember) were operated north and south daily as well. 

In addition to the scheduled and extra freight trains a number of “locals” were operated.  On a less than regular basis a train was dispatched out the A&W tracks (Arkansas & Western) to work some plants located to the east.  Some of the locals serviced coal mines north and west of Heavener while at least one went to the marble quarry at Marble City north of Sallisaw.  Another train worked the creosote plant and feed mills near Fort Smith and Van Buren.  The ones to Fort Smith were operated over the tracks of the Fort Smith & Van Buren Railway, a subsidiary of the KCS. (In 1939 the Fort Smith & Van Buren acquired the original portion of the Fort Smith and Western line from Coal Creek to McCurtain and the balance of the line west from McCurtain to Guthrie was scrapped.) When the call went out to the crews the local trains were referred to simply as locals or dodgers while the Fort Smith run was usually spoken of as the FS and VB.  The name “dodger” was fairly unique to the KCS and referred to the actions the local had to take when on the main line, i.e., “dodge” the passenger and scheduled freight trains.

Occasionally my father would make one of the local runs.  In the early summer I would accompany him (quite against regulations, I suppose) in the caboose and be dropped off at a particularly good blackberry site.  I would pick berries until the train came back that way in the late afternoon.  I usually carried a sandwich filled with chopped boiled eggs, potted meat, and mayonnaise and a quart fruit jar of water.  Folklore being what it was in those days I also employed a “sure fire way” to keep chiggers off me.  I wrapped kerosine (Word wants this to be spelled kerosene but I grew up spelling it kerosine—usually we just called it coal oil) soaked rags around my ankles.  I now know that all I accomplished with this approach was to create a slight irritation of the skin but, at the time, I believed it was absolutely correct.

Working on the railroad was a dangerous job.  In addition to the far-too-frequent train wrecks, there were other ways to get hurt or killed.  These dangers caused events that left me with the unpleasant memories I mentioned in the last blog.  In later years I recall one death and one crippling accident.  The cars loaded with marble from the quarry mentioned above were winched out of the quarry using steel cables.  On one occasion the cable broke and struck a man named P.J. Walker across the top of the head causing instantaneous death.  On another occasion Leo Anderson was in the process of kicking the drawbar coupling open on a car about to be coupled to the rest of the train when he got his foot caught between the couplings resulting in the loss of the foot.  Leo’s son was Jim Anderson who started school in 1947 with my class. 

Before I was born my father was walking the tops of a train of boxcars and had the train start to move just as he jumped the gap between cars.  He landed on his back on the drawbars and incurred severe back injuries that, after spending six months in a full body cast, plagued him the rest of his life.  In spite of his injuries he worked for the KCS another 30 plus years.  Those of you who knew my father in the last years of his life may remember the stooped way he walked as a result of this accident.  Beyond this injury he also ripped the tendons in his right arm moving a frog (heavy piece of metal used in switches to direct the flanged wheels of trains) and suffered many sprains and bruises.  If you look at the caboose located in Heavener you should see a curved piece of pipe that transitions from a horizontal orientation to a vertical one.  This pipe served as the thing which men grasped to board the train while it was in motion.  Similar devices were mounted on engines but to climb the ladder to the top of a boxcar it was necessary to pull oneself directly upwards.  I have seen men mount a moving boxcar with the train doing upwards of 10 miles per hour.

More next time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The KCS and Heavener

The Kansas City Southern Railroad was a fixture throughout my life in Heavener. It was the primary economic driver for Heavener with a large number of people employed on the train crews plus a large contingent at the roundhouse where maintenance was done and a significant number of people on the section gangs that maintained the tracks.  In addition, there were a number of administrative people ranging from the Trainmaster at the top through the ticket and baggage agents to the callboys at the bottom.  Heavener was a “division point” and freight trains worked to Watts, Oklahoma to the north and to Dequeen, Arkansas to the south.

It is interesting to look at how some towns very familiar to us got their names.  Edgar Arthur Stilwell (ca late 1890s) was one of the original KCS predecessor founders.  He obtained substantial investment capital from the people of Holland.  During his tenure the railroad advanced rapidly into Arkansas and established new towns.  As a token of appreciation to his Dutch friends, Stilwell named certain of these towns after them.  DeGoeijen became DeQueen, the nearest Americans could come in the way of pronunciation.  Mena, Arkansas, was named for DeGoeijen's wife, Mena, which was, in turn, the diminutive of Wilhelmina, the name of Holland’s Queen.  Vandervoort, Arkansas;  Bloomburg and Nederland, Texas; Hornbeck and DeRidder, Louisiana, all were named for prominent Dutch investors.  Zwolle, Louisiana, is taken from the Netherlands city of DeGoeijen's birth.  Amsterdam, Missouri took the name of the Netherlands' capital.  DeQuincy, Louisiana, honors Baron DeQuincy, Dutch nobleman and early stockholder.   And, of course, Stilwell was named for Arthur Stilwell.

The promotion of Mena, Arkansas, as a town was enhanced by the efforts of the railroad to lay forty miles of track in forty days. Newspapers took up this mile-a-day program and gave the new line and Mena much publicity.  Another project that put Mena in the limelight was the building by Stilwell interests of Wilhelmina Inn atop nearby Rich Mountain, which opened June 22, 1898.  The Netherlands' influence still was large and it was hoped that Queen Wilhelmina, for whom the hotel was named, would be present at the formal opening, a hope that failed to materialize.

A train crew was made up of a conductor, an engineer, a fireman, a head brakeman, and a rear brakeman.  The steam engines were coal fired, at first by hand shoveling but later by auger stokers.  Tenders with coal and water were located behind each engine.  Diesel engines after the late 1940s were petroleum fueled and did not require the water tanks pulled by the steam engines.  Steam engines ranged from small 0-4-0 (four coupled) models to the very large 2-8-8-0 Mallets with probably the most outstanding one being the J-class 2-10-0 that had to be slightly depowered because it had a tendency to bend the power rods.  More will be provided later about the various engine types used.

The roundhouse was located north of the downtown area but well south of the current refueling stations.  It had a rotating platform large enough to drive a steam locomotive on.  The platform was then rotated to match a set of tracks arranged in an arc and various maintenance tasks were performed in the building over pits that allowed workers access to the bottom of the engines.

The depot was located just north of where the stoplight is now.  It was a two-story building and had a waiting room on the first floor, south end.  As was current during that time there were restrooms marked “White” and “Colored” as well as drinking fountains marked the same way.  The only African-Americans in Heavener at that time were the train porters on the passenger trains.  They lived in a dormitory-like building south of the depot (but I can’t remember the exact location—maybe near the old deer park) during the time between trains while they were in Heavener.  There may have been a second dormitory just north of the depot.  The second floor of the building had administrative offices.  There was a freight terminal on the north end with a number of steel-wheeled wagons used to move baggage and freight to the passenger trains.  I think the room where the crews and their statuses were identified was on the second floor in the middle of the depot.  In that room there was a board called the “ready board” in which crew names were listed.  There was also an “extra board” where men with lower seniority were listed. Choice of job and crew assignment was on the basis of seniority.

Some of my fondest memories of the period are of sitting at the depot smelling the acrid smoke from the engines and listening to the air pumps that maintained the braking system on the trains.  When a train pulled out small cinders from the exhaust showered down on us.  Really good firemen rarely let their smoke turn very black but kept the fire in just the needed state to maintain the steam pressure.

Before the onset of US participation World War II in late 1941 trains were limited to 70 cars in length.  As a part of the war effort this limitation was lifted (and never reinstated) and trains as long as 150 cars were not unusual when I was a child.  In order for trains of this length to make it over Rich Mountain south of Heavener it was often necessary to use two locomotives in a double-header configuration.  Some times it was also necessary to split the train at about the mid point and insert a helper engine.  Each engine added to the train increased the crew size by two people.  When the diesel era came along, the use of six or even seven 1500 to 2500 horsepower units was not unusual.  This occurred under the leadership of the Deramus family who were known far and wide for their desire to haul trains as long as physically possible.  The ultimate limiter was the drawbar strength.  The grades of the track between Watts and Dequeen were the steepest of the entire KCS line so the use of exceptionally powerful locomotives occurred on this portion.

Not all my memories of the KCS are pleasant.  In future blogs I will mention some of the unpleasant ones as well as the pleasant ones mixed in with a little painless (I hope) history.