Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad

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The Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad Company was a railroad in operation in North Texas from 1921 to 1954. It was incorporated in 1920 by several investors, most prominently Frank Kell and his brother-in-law, Joseph A. Kemp, both of Wichita Falls, Texas.[1][2]

Overview[edit]

The company constructed a 38-mile extension from the existing Wichita Falls and Southern Railway at Newcastle to Jimkurn, since a ghost town in Stephens County, Texas. The Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad became operational on July 21, 1921, when it also began leasing the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway. In 1921, the since defunct Wichita Falls, Ranger and Fort Worth Railroad, which tied Wichita Falls to Ranger in Eastland County and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, was opened to Jimkurn. The three combined lines stretched from Wichita Falls to Dublin located in Erath County in Central Texas.[1]

Company history[edit]

In August 1927, the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad acquired the stock of the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway and the Wichita Falls, Ranger and Fort Worth Railroad, both of which had been leased by the parent company. The railroad acquired rights to use the track of the Wichita Falls and Oklahoma Railroad system from Wichita Falls to Waurika in Jefferson County in southern Oklahoma. The total route was hence expanded to tie Dublin to Waurika. After Kemp's death in 1930, Kell became the company president, assisted by his son, Joseph Archibald Kell (1895-1939),[3] and Joe J. Perkins as the vice president, based at company headquarters in Wichita Falls.[1]

In 1929, the company owned eleven locomotives, with 5 passenger cars, 147 freight cars, and 15 company cars. It was rated a Class II entity by the Texas Railroad Commission, which no longer regulates railroads but instead the state's energy industries. Earnings in 1929 exceeded $1 million, mostly from freight revenue. On December 31, 1940, the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad and its leased companies were merged. At its peak the Wichita Falls and Southern had about four hundred employees. However, the deaths of Joe Kell in 1939 and Frank Kell in 1941, coupled with strikes, floods, and wage issues, had by 1948 hampered the financial condition of the railroad. In 1952, under the management of one of Kell's sons-in-law, Orville Bullington, the company was unaffiliated. That year the railroad had earned about $530,000 in revenue. In 1954, it was abandoned.[1]

Meanwhile, some forty miles of the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad between Graham in Young County and a point south of Breckenridge in Stephens County was acquired and operated by the since defunct Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad until 1969, when this line too was disestablished.

Kemp's earlier Wichita Falls Railway, established in 1895, had provided service for the eighteen miles between Wichita Falls and Henrietta in Clay County, Texas. This line was purchased in 1911 by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and ultimately abandoned as unprofitable in 1970.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "H. Allen Anderson, "Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad"". tshaonline.org. Retrieved April 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ The Texas State Historical Association bases its article primarily on Louise Kelly, Wichita County Beginnings (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982).
  3. ^ "Frank Kell (1859-1941)". findagrave.com. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Wichita Falls Railway". tshaonline.org. Retrieved April 20, 2013.