Prescott and Northwestern Railroad
|Prescott and Northwestern Railroad|
|Dates of operation||1890–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Prescott and Northwestern Railroad (reporting mark PNW) is a short-line railroad headquartered in Prescott, Arkansas. The railroad was chartered in 1890, for the purpose of constructing a railroad north-northwest from Prescott to access timberlands for the Ozan Lumber Company. Track was gradually extended from Prescott to Arcadia, Blevins, McCaskill, Belton, Tokio, and Highland (Pike County), a distance of 31 miles.
The primary traffic carried by the Prescott and Northwestern was forest products, but for a number of years the line also carried an extensive crop of Elberta peaches from Highland (Pike County) to Prescott during the fruit harvesting season. At Prescott, the refrigerator cars of fruit shipments were transferred to the Missouri Pacific Railroad shipment to northern markets. By the 1950s, outbound lumber from the Prescott mill, along with gypsum from a gypsum mine at Highland made up most of the traffic handled by the PNW.
Passenger service was discontinued in November 1945, and freight service to Highland ended with the closure of a gypsum mine, the last industry utilizing rail service, in 1980. Although unused north of Prescott, the track continued to be maintained by the railroad for possible reuse when second growth timber was harvested. In 1994 a change in corporate strategy resulted in the unused part of the railroad being formally abandoned and dismantled. Since that time, PNW has operated 5 miles of switching track in Prescott, with most traffic being between the sawmill and the Missouri Pacific (now Union Pacific) connection. The Prescott sawmill changed hands several times over the years. Current owner Potlatch has closed the mill and sold the railroad to Arkansas Midland. Firestone is currently the only customer.
- Shortline Railroads of Arkansas, Hull, Clifton E., 1988. [ISBN 0-944436-00-5]
- Sawmill, Cutting the Last Great Virgin Forest East of the Rockies, Smith, Kenneth L., 1986. [ISBN 0-938626-68-X]
- Nevada County Depot and Museum, Prescott, Arkansas
- Prescott & Northwestern photographs
- Link to Union Pacific Website with PNW Details