In 1927, Charles Lindbergh uses Cherryvale's distinctive railroad track arrangement as a navigation aid on his famous St. Louis flight.
Cherryvale Railroad History
No other single factor was responsible for
Cherryvale's creation and ultimate early-day success than this railroad. It
all began in
Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad was one of three involved in
the famous race from northern Kansas cities to the Indian Territory border
(later to became Oklahoma) which took place between
The Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas RR, Ottawa & Burlington RR, and the Kansas City & Olathe railroad companies were consolidated under the name of the Southern Kansas Railway Company and in 1885 "the" was capitalized in the corporate title. It was known as the Southern Kansas Division or Southern-Kansas Lines of the AT&SF up to the sale of the remaining trackage by the Santa Fe to the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL) on January 1, 1991.
Cherryvale was found to be at the right place
St. Louis and San Francisco
Railway, dubbed the "Frisco
would maintain a presence in Cherryvale until November 21,
Frisco Railway Web Sites:
When the Santa Fe built its new station, a three block long brick sidewalk connecting the two depots was built to facilitate the transfer of passengers, mail and express using baggage carts. A small one story Railroad Express Agency office building was constructed fifty feet south of the Frisco depot along the brick platform at this time. (This structure was directly across from the main entrance to the Leatherock Hotel on North Depot Street).
The last railroad to enter Cherryvale was the
Memphis, Kansas and Colorado narrow
was constructed from Parsons in
Favorite M.K.&C Web Sites:
By the late
Santa Fe's new streamlined day passenger train,
known as the
Tulsan, began operations on Dec.
Several daily freight trains ran through Cherryvale. A Chanute to Tulsa freight train carried numbers 69 and 70. A Wellington freight train (#83 and 84) also made a daily stop in Cherryvale. This train originated in Chanute and went to Independence, then west to Longton where it connected with the Chanute to Winfield line. This line then continued west to Wellington. A Coffeyville local carried numbers 71 and 72. The Santa Fe would interchange freight cars daily with the Frisco. Trains 69, 70, 83 and 84 would all leave set-outs on one of the four yard tracks east of the depot or one of four connection tracks. Cars left by the Frisco would be placed here as well. The Coffeyville local, which originated there, was responsible for all switching in Cherryvale. This local would work all interchange business with the Frisco, and finish any industrial switching in town before returning to Coffeyville. This local would work all Coffeyville industries and interchanges before arriving in Cherryvale.
Passenger service dwindled away due to automobiles, and when the U.S. Postal Service ceased to use the railroads for shipping mail, the Santa Fe ceased running its now diesel powered Tulsan on April 30, 1971. This was the last passenger train to serve the Southeast Kansas region.
When Elk City reservoir was built in 1964, the Santa Fe line from Independence to Longton was abandoned. This eliminated freight trains #83 and #84 passing through Cherryvale. With the closing of the Santa Fe depot in Coffeyville, the local train was transferred to Chanute, working south through Cherryvale to Coffeyville and returning on a daily basis. The frequent steam locomotive whistle would also lose its familiar echoes in the communities and country side.
In 1989 the Santa Fe received trackage rights over the Burlington Northern into Tulsa, at this time the Chanute to Tulsa train was eliminated. The line from Cherryvale to Tulsa would only be served on an as needed basis by the Santa Fe Railway.
On January 1, 1991, the remaining Southern Kansas Santa Fe Lines were purchased by the new South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL), which has its headquarters in Pittsburg, Kansas. Cherryvale is considered the hub of this short-line railroad since all trains in the SKOL system come through the Cherryvale yard four to five trains a day pulling about 240 total cars, except weekends. Rail traffic increases during the summer and fall months when grain elevators ship carloads of freshly harvested grain to other market destinations. Its the Cherryvale train crews job to take the inbound trains and rebuild the traffic for the outbound trains. The first train runs from Coffeyville through Cherryvale, Independence and Caney to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and return. The second train runs from Coffeyville through Cherryvale to Chanute and back.
Favorite AT&SF Web Sites:
Cherryvale Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Depot
The first sign that the Santa Fe would finally build a new station to replace their wood depot in use since 1871 further south on Depot Street was on May 14, 1909 when an article appeared in the Cherryvale Weekly Republican; "The plans for Cherryvale's new Santa Fe passenger station have arrived and they bear evidence of the fact that this city is to be given the very best depot on the Southern Kansas division, Chanute and Ottawa only excepted. The new station will be, according to the blue print plans, 48 x 134 feet. The apartments are an outside waiting room, ladies waiting room, ladies' toilet, gentlemen's toilet, office, gentlemen's waiting room, baggage room and express room. The building will be arranged like the Independence station except that in addition it will have an outside waiting room 30 x 48. These make the Cherryvale station 25 percent larger than the one at Independence. The outside waiting room is a new feature, common in the west but almost unknown here. It will be situated at the north end of the station. The bids for building the new structure will be opened at Topeka May 15 and by the terms of the contract the station must be completed within four months. This summer will surely see the completion of a magnificent new Santa Fe station here of which Cherryvale will be proud."
The contract was awarded to O. Swanson and Sons of Topeka and was to be part of many improvements the railroad was going to make to its facilities in Cherryvale. When the depot was built the plan was flopped north and south so the outside waiting room faced Santa Fe Park and Main Street. Total cost of all these improvements was $52,000 and included a new roundhouse.
On May 12, 1910, this article appeared in the Republican; "Painter Leaves --- G.W. Banta, who has had charge of painting the new Santa Fe station here left today for his home in Topeka, having finished his work. The new station is now ready for the furniture and then Agent Dodds can move in."
These two articles from The Republican of June 2, 1910, reflect the first day of business at the new station; From Wednesday's Daily, "First Ticket --- G.H. Whitman today bought the first ticket sold from the new depot. The ticket was to Coolidge, Kansas where Mr. and Mrs. Whitman go to visit relatives for a week. They were accompanied by their son, C.A. Whitman, who is returning home to that town after a visit with Cherryvale relatives." "Train Late --- Santa Fe passenger train No. 202, due here at 12:20 o'clock was an hour and twenty-five minutes late today. The delay was caused by a wait at Independence for the delayed passenger train from Tulsa. No. 202 today was the first train into the new station and it established a bad precedent.".
When the Santa Fe had no further use of the depot in the 1980s, the historic structure stood in a disrepair. When the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce heard that the Santa Fe had decided to tear down the depot in 1980, they contacted the railroad to either buy or have the building donated to the Chamber for use as a headquarters and tourist information center. The Santa Fe stated that only the south end could be leased for a $1.00 a year to the Chamber since the north end baggage area was still being used as a workroom and storage area for the district signal maintenance crew. This arrangement was inherited by the Dick Webb family, owners of the SKOL Railroad when it took over the railroad and property in 1991. In May 1991, the Heart of the Heartlands, a non-profit rail excursion and preservation group, was given permission by the SKOL to move its headquarters into the depot and the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce voluntarily relinquished its lease on the building.
In December of 1988, the Parsons Model Railroad Engineers in Parsons asked the Chamber if they could use the public areas in the depot for its train layout. With approval, they moved in, started construction of a large indoor layout and changed the club name to the Cherry Valley Model Railroad Club (CVMRC). In 1992, the Webb family, along with Heart of the Heartlands restored the depot to its original grandeur, keeping every element to its original status. The SKO soon transferred the signal maintainer to Chanute and the CVMRC moved into the north baggage section constructing an elaborate two level layout thus providing space for a Santa Fe museum in the public areas of the depot. Heartland members then built numerous museum quality train exhibits and placed many artifacts for display inside the depot. After spending over $30,000 on building rehabilitation, a rededication ceremony was held on May 9, 1991. The building now has a secure future as an asset to the Cherryvale community appearing just like it did when the first train rolled to the new station in 1910. The Santa Fe Park south of the facility makes for a nice stop for people when going on brisk walks up and down Main Street. .
Cherryvale's Station Agents
Pat Bell, who came to Cherryvale in 1940 as a telegraph operator, worked his way up to become the Santa Fe's last station agent. In October 1979, the Santa Fe received permission from the Kansas Corporation Commission to close their agency at Cherryvale. Pat was told that the railroad had enough business for only about 48 minutes of work a day and that a full time agent was no longer justified. He was transferred to Coffeyville, where he served a few years as agent there. Upon his retirement in 1985, Pat had logged a total of 42 years of service to the Santa Fe. He now resides in Cherryvale.
John Sough operated the first trolley into Cherryvale at 9:30 am Sunday
morning, February 27, 1910. It was an unscheduled test run to check
condition of the tracks without being bothered by a crowd. The news soon
spread through out the area. It was estimated that a crowd of 500 was on
hand to watch the second trolley arrive in Cherryvale.
Historical Points of Interest
1906 St. Louis & San Francisco "Frisco" Railway Station, Across Front Street northeast of the Leatherock Hotel. The Frisco railroad built a two-story brick station at the the rail crossing of the Frisco and Santa Fe lines, considered one of the finest and best-served depots in southeast Kansas. In the mid-1970s, the depot was sold and dismantled in 1983 brick by brick. Today, only the concrete foundation and some of the flooring remain as evidences of existence. (See "Frisco Depot" history at left).
1910 Atchison Topeka Santa Fe Railway Depot & Park, 123 North Depot Street. The Santa Fe Depot, built in 1910 in the heart of downtown Cherryvale, was restored in 1991 after falling into a sad state of neglect for nearly a decade. The facility's mission-style architecture with its bricked archway and numerous
beveled glass windows dates to a time when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway designed depots with the southwestern ambiance in order to appeal to the tired Midwesterners, who yearned for the majestic scenery of the southwestern United States. The depot has become an icon for the community and a symbol of the glory day of "the Iron Horse" in southeast Kansas. It is an unforgettable landmark. Depot Park is located south of the depot parking area and fronts Main Street. The original park fountain is now a large circular planting area surrounded with wooden benches.
Today, the depot is the central office for dispatching and communications for the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL), a WATCO Company headquartered in Pittsburg, Kansas. (See Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Depot story at left).
Station or Depot--Technically "depot" means the building in which railroad business is conducted. "Station" applies both to the structure and other facilities (water tower, coal chute, freight platforms, etc) at the site as well. Over the years the two words have been used interchangeably to refer to the building that houses railroad services.
1910 Depot Street Brick Railroad Platform, Across Depot Street from the Leatherock Hotel front entrance. When the Santa Fe Depot was constructed, an extensive brick platform or sidewalk was also laid connecting the Santa Fe depot to the
Frisco Depot, located three blocks to the north on Front and Depot Streets. Passengers and freight carts from both railroads crossed the brick platform daily along with buggy taxis, hotel greeters, and sales barkers. Portions of that platform, considered one of the longest brick platforms in America, are still intact today.
1978 Cherry Valley Model Railroad Club, Historic Santa Fe Depot, 123 North Depot Street. In November of 1978, the Parsons Model Railroad Engineers Club was formed in Parsons, southeast Kansas. In 1989, the club relocated and reconstructed its operating layout in the historic Cherryvale Santa Fe Depot. When the Heart of the Heartlands Society established a Santa Fe Museum in the public area of the depot, the CVMR Club relocated its layout to its present location in the original depot baggage room on the north end of the mission style depot.
The 26-year old club meets every
Friday night at 7pm. Featuring a large HO model train layout named the
Neosho Valley Lines, this fictitious railroad travels the two-state
miniature countryside between Kansas City through
Cherryvale to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. The N gauge layout is presently being
rebuilt with a double tracked main line. On Friday nights, most club
members become locomotive engineers, switchmen, brakemen, yard operators,
electricians, signal maintenance engineers, and landscapers to enjoy keeping the trains
running and shipping various model railroad cars and cargo to other parts
of the large layout.
1996-2002 Santa Claus Train, Local southeast Kansas cities. Santa Claus doesn't always ride in his sleigh. Southeast Kansas children know that a brightly multi-colored lighted caboose preceded by lively Christmas music sometimes brings him down the tracks to their cities. While the friendly elves pass
out candy to the milling crowds, small children approach eagerly, reaching to touch or climb into Santa's lap. Some 18volunteers from the Heart of the Heartlands Society, working in cooperation with the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, spend three days each year whistle stopping along the SKOL rail system to bring a memorable visit from Santa Claus to children along these rail lines. Scheduling for this annual event can not be planned too far in advance of the holidays due to SKOL's rail traffic demands. Details can be obtained by visiting their web site or from Larry and Kathy Spahn, 620 396-8594.
You know you are in small town when Third Street and the railroad tracks are on the edge of town...
© 1999-2008 Leatherock Hotel. Web Site created, compiled and maintained by Wayne Hallowell, Director of the Leatherock Hotel
information is part of the heritage of Cherryvale, Kansas and the legacy of the
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