Click to enlarge. The bankrupt railroad was shut down in March by order of a federal judge at the urging of creditors, namely Henry Crown, who felt it was worth more dead than alive, with all of its assets liquidated. In Arkansas, most of its tracks were taken up, except for a few stretches now operated by other railroads. I knew it would be a challenge finding high resolution images, then writing and assembling the book, but it was a rewarding process that allowed me to connect with many people about the railroad.
I took part in several events speaking about the book, some of which were recorded and can be watched on the link. The former Rock Island depot at Perry, which still features many remnants of its earlier days. This is the last Rock Island depot still standing in the state west of Little Rock and should be preserved. You can help us make that happen!
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This page includes several posts over the summer as discussions were ongoing. This includes extensive photos of the moving process and inside the depot. In by family bought and moved Rock Island caboose , which was built in Here you can read a detailed account of the project and see photos and a TV report about the move. Hearing first-hand accounts of things that happened is extremely interesting.
Some have incredible stories, experiences and occasionally even near death experiences. The next day a larger crowd rolled a wagon containing a small building on to the tracks. The crew of the southbound freight never even slowed, blasting pieces of the wagon and building in all directions as they roared on.
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It took only a few minutes for the crowd of about to pull spikes from the rails and disjoint more than feet of track. Men were then sent running in both directions to flag any oncoming traffic, and a short time later a stock train with 30 loaded cattle cars came swinging up the line from Texas. When viewed at a distance by engineer Jim Sullivan, the tangled mess of track and ties appeared to be of no threat. Having seen buggies, wagons and other obstacles on the rails, he only smiled as he cruised past the man running down the tracks waving a red flag.
They forged ahead, and by the time Sullivan realized the track was in shambles, it was too late. He and his fireman jumped clear of the cab as the engine plunged into the tangle of ties and rails. The locomotive plowed through nearly yards of trackless roadbed before finally sliding to a stop.
Like a collapsing accordion, the trailing cattle cars piled into a heap behind it, most bursting open. More than cows were crippled or killed in the wreck, but miraculously the trainmen escaped serious injury. At a hearing the next morning, railroad attorneys were dumbstruck to hear Pond Creek city officials defend the derailment as the only means available to enforce speed laws.
The Pond Creek wreck brought swift response from federal authorities, who realized the depot dispute had become an all-out war. Territorial Marshal E. Nix and some deputies arrived in town to investigate, and although Nix obtained arrest warrants for half a dozen Pond Creek citizens, the local court released each of them on bond.
On the night of June 22, the concussion of a massive explosion rocked the two towns of Pond Creek Station and Pond Creek. Hagar at the far end of the bridge. Commissioner W.
He was a bit optimistic. The next night some Pond Creek men shot up a southbound train as it rambled through town. Train guards returned the fire, wounding the local news dealer as he innocently waited along the tracks for a bundle of newspapers to be tossed from the train. It is devoutly and sincerely to be hoped that the Rock Island will abandon its openly avowed purpose of crushing this town out of existence…. The people here…are ruined unless the railroad is brought to subjection, hence they are growing desperate.
On the night of July 12, railroad haters in Enid took up the cause by sawing through several key timbers on the bridge over Boggy Creek. At dawn, Friday the 13th, a Rock Island freight thundered onto the bridge. The locomotive and tender barely made it across before the structure collapsed, sending oil tankers and lumber cars into the creek bottom. As the trailing cars went down, they pulled the engine and tender back into the wreckage. The bridge was repaired the next night, and when rail traffic resumed, special trains carrying soldiers from Fort Reno moved north toward the trouble spots.
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On the 17th, dynamite jolted one of the troop trains as it rolled into Pond Creek. Deputy U. Two bombs, inside the city limits of Round Pond [Pond Creek], exploded when we had passed about one hundred yards. While not caring to meddle with Territorial affairs, I must say it will be necessary at once to suspend sheriffs and other officers, and put in their places, men who will attend to their duty fearlessly.
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A few days later, some small bridges near Pond Creek and Enid were set ablaze. Exasperated Rock Island officials wired the U. Attorney Brooks, meanwhile, decided to suspend the sheriff and other lawmen in the counties involved for their failure to uphold the law. Said the Cherokee Sentinel :. The fact the Deputy Blowhard Madsen is fixing the railroad in his favor should there ever be a change in the U. Marshal ship of the territory is very apparent. Madsen is a rampant Swede [sic], Republican and should be given a dose of Hokey Pokey.
Two companies of soldiers, commanded by General Nelson A. Miles, along with 20 deputies headed by U. Marshal E. Nix, filed off the cars. The soldiers formed ranks along the street while Nix and his men walked to the public square, where a large crowd had gathered.
Federal officers served arrest warrants on the sheriff, probate judge and city marshal, along with 43 citizens. There was only limited verbal resistance as local residents warily eyed the troops standing ready with fixed bayonets.
The defendants were marched to the train and taken south to Kingfisher, the seat of Kingfisher County, where Attorney Brooks had already requested a change of venue, so he could prosecute federal mail obstruction charges before an unbiased jury. Nearly 40 others from Enid joined the Pond Creek men. On July 25, Judge John L. McAtee opened court and promptly ruled that he had no jurisdiction to hear the cases in Kingfisher County. His order to move the proceedings to Pond Creek and Enid was roundly cheered, and as the courtroom emptied, the local town band led a noisy parade to the depot, where the prisoners boarded trains to return home.
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Judge McAtee heard the cases at Pond Creek the next day. Each of the accused waived examination and posted bond pending grand jury action, but no one seriously believed juries in either Pond Creek or Enid would ever render one true bill. Later the same week, Territorial Governor W. Renfrow returned from a trip to Chicago with assurances the south towns would finally get their depots if they pledged to cease further hostilities. On August 1, the U. Senate removed the troublesome amendment that required county seat elections, and House Bill passed in its original form by a floor vote of 24 to The news reached the towns of Pond Creek and Enid that afternoon, and by nightfall both towns held huge public victory celebrations.
It took until the end of for the Rock Island and the county seat towns to negotiate the price and location of the depots and actually build them. Even then, the railroad reserved one last indignity for the county seat of Pond Creek. Through the years, the people of Pond Creek and Enid have maintained that their fight was with the railroad, not neighboring towns.
Clearly, had the Rock Island established depots from the beginning, the destruction of its property and loss of business could have been avoided.