Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway
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The Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway (AVI) was an interurban railway that operated in Kansas, serving Wichita, Newton, and Hutchinson. It operated a small fleet of passenger and freight equipment. Service was suspended prior to World War II and never resumed.
Construction began in 1910 on the first 17.8 mile long section from Wichita north to Sedgwick. On November 19, 1910 the line from Wichita to Valley Center was officially opened, and service was extended to Sedgwick on December 17.
In 1911, construction began on the Sedgwick to Newton segment, which was opened on October 9, 1911. With the completion of the line to Newton work began on the line to Halstead, which branched off of the Newton line at Van Arsdale Junction and headed straight west for five miles. This section opened late in 1911.
It was not until 1915 that construction began on extending the Halstead branch another 24 miles to reach Hutchinson, but work commenced in April of that year and the first AVI car ran to Hutchinson on December 20, 1915.
The only other branch operated by the AVI was a short line north from Newton to Bethel College which opened in 1913 and was abandoned in 1925.
The Great Depression affected the AVI as it did all interurban lines, and revenues declined due to the economy as well as increased automobile use. On July 31, 1938 all passenger service on the AVI was abandoned, but the line continued hauling freight using its electric locomotives and box motors. In November 1939 the line was sold, changing its name to Arkansas Valley Railway. Dieselization came within a year, and the last electric operation was made on October 20, 1940 by a trio of interurban cars held in storage since abandonment of passenger service. Following this run the wires came down and all freight was hauled by diesel. This only lasted a year and a half; in July 1942 the War Production Board requisitioned the line for scrap and the track was torn up.
Isely, Malcolm D. (1956). Arkansas Valley Interurban: Interurbans Special 19. Los Angeles, California: Interurbans.
- Historical photos of Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway, wichitaphotos.org
- 1935 Rand McNally Standard Map of Kansas, shows railway between Wichita, Newton, Hutchinson
- 1917 to 1920 railway history, specialcollections.wichita.edu
- 1913 time card, Great Plains Transportation Museum