Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad

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Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad
HeadquartersMcAlester, Oklahoma
LocaleOklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas
Dates of operation1888 (1888)–1948 (1948)
SuccessorChicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad

The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (CO&G), known informally as the "Choctaw Route," was an American railroad in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma.


The company, originally known as the Choctaw Coal and Railway Company, completed its main line between West Memphis, Arkansas and western Oklahoma by 1900. In 1901 the CO&G chartered a subsidiary company, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad, to continue construction west into the Texas panhandle, and by 1902 the railroad had extended as far west as Amarillo.

Choctaw Northern Railroad[edit]

The Watonga and Northwestern Railroad was incorporated in Oklahoma Territory on May 19, 1900.[1] Its name changed to the Choctaw and Northern Railroad on March 22, 1901.[1] Though not originally controlled by the CO&G, this railway did in the 1901-1902 timeframe build its main line from a connection with the CO&G at Geary, Oklahoma north toward the Oklahoma-Kansas border, about 106 miles distant.[1][2] It passed through or created towns along the way such as Greenfield, Watonga and Homestead in Blaine County;[3][4][5][6] Cleo Springs, originally Cleo, in Major County;[7] and, in Alfalfa County, the towns of Aline, Augusta, Lambert, Ingersoll, Driftwood, and Amorita.[8] At the border, it continued about 16 miles north through Waldron, Kansas-- where it crossed the line of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad-- to end at Anthony, Kansas, which had existed at the intersection of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad and the Missouri Pacific Railway since at least 1891.[9][10][11] This gave it a mainline of about 121 miles.[12] It also built a branch from its line at Ingersoll—a town created by the railroad—west to the Woods County seat of Alva, Oklahoma, about 16 miles.[1][13][14] This gave the railway a total trackage of about 137-138 miles.[1][12]

This railroad was conveyed to the CO&G on May 3, 1902.[1]

Choctaw and Memphis Railroad[edit]

An entity called the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad (C&MR), a publicly traded company, on October 25, 1898 purchased at foreclosure the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad.[15][16] That was a line running 133 miles from Hopefield, Arkansas, which was a ferry crossing point to Memphis, Tennessee across the Mississippi River, and ending in Huntersville, now known as North Little Rock, Arkansas.[15] As the new owner, the C&MR then began building west, including a bridge over the Arkansas River to Little Rock.[17][18] That bridge later became known as the Rock Island Bridge, and is today the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.[17]

The C&MR was sold to the CO&G in 1900.[15] The CO&G extended its Oklahoma tracks to meet the Little Rock line.[18]

The Rock Island[edit]

The CO&G came under the control of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (the "Rock Island") in 1902, and was formally merged into the Rock Island on January 1, 1948. The Memphis-Amarillo route remained an important main line for the Rock Island, hosting local and transcontinental freight traffic as well as passenger trains such as the Choctaw Rocket from 1940-1964.

The Choctaw Route today[edit]

Cover of a 1901 timetable
Preferred share of the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf RR company, issued 1901

Ownership of the Choctaw Route's railway components were split into numerous pieces as a result of the dissolution of the Rock Island Railroad in 1980. Some segments of the former CO&G were abandoned; others remain in use by the Union Pacific Railroad and various short lines. As of 2014, the former Choctaw Route can be described from east to west as:

  • Memphis, Tennessee to Brinkley, Arkansas: active; owned by Union Pacific
  • Brinkley to the eastern side of Little Rock: abandoned, with rail removed
  • Little Rock to Danville: active; operated by the Little Rock and Western Railway
  • Danville to Howe, Oklahoma: abandoned, with rail removed; owned by the State of Oklahoma[19]
  • Howe to McAlester: active; owned and operated by the Arkansas–Oklahoma Railroad[19]
  • McAlester to Shawnee: disused, with rail in place but most road crossings paved over. Owned by the UP, last operated by Union Pacific in 1996[19]
  • Shawnee to Oklahoma City: active; owned by Union Pacific, operated by the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad[19]
  • Oklahoma City to El Reno: active; owned by Union Pacific, operated by Union Pacific and AT&L Railroad
  • El Reno to Geary: active; owned and operated by AT&L railroad[20]
  • Geary to Watonga Spur: active; owned and operated by AT&L Railroad [20]
  • Geary to Bridgeport: Active; Owned by the State of Oklahoma, operated by AT&L Railroad [20]
  • Bridgeport to Weatherford: Out of service; owned by the State of Oklahoma. Rails are still in place for most of this segment, but several sections are washed out.
  • Weatherford to Erick: active; owned by the State of Oklahoma, operated by the Farmrail Corporation[21]
  • Erick, Oklahoma to east end of Amarillo, Texas: abandoned, with rail removed

The former Choctaw Route passenger depot in Little Rock, Arkansas, is now a component of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, though the adjoining historic freight depot was razed as part of the Clinton Center's development.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Choctaw Northern Railroad Company". Railroads of Oklahoma, June 6, 1870-April 1, 1978 (accessed on Oklahoma Digital Prairie), pp. 42-44. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  2. ^ "Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad Company Annual Report". Commercial and Financial Chronicle, January 25, 1902, p.214 (accessed on the Federal Reserve website). Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  3. ^ "A Town that Enjoys the Well Wishes of Everybody in the County and State—Visit It". The Greenfield Hustler, Vol 1, Number 14, June 5, 1913 (accessed The Gateway to Oklahoma History). Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  4. ^ "Piper v. Choctaw Northern Townsite & Improvement Co". Supreme Court of Oklahoma, 85 P. 965, February 14, 1906 (accessed on CaseText). Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  5. ^ "Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad Company, p.14" (PDF). OKNG.ORG. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  6. ^ "Homestead, OK". Microsoft Bing. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  7. ^ "Cleo Springs". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  8. ^ "Alfalfa County". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  9. ^ "History of Waldron". KSGenWeb. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  10. ^ "Map of Eagle Township". HistoricMapWorks. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  11. ^ "Anthony, Kansas: The Town Forgotten By The Railroads". Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places, September 7, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  12. ^ a b "The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway" (PDF). Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "Ingersoll, Oklahoma to Alva, Oklahoma". Google Maps. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  14. ^ "Woods County". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  15. ^ a b c "The Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  16. ^ "Choctaw and Memphis Railroad Company". Ghosts of Wall Street. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  17. ^ a b "Rock Island Bridge (Little Rock-North Little Rock)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad Company 1899". Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  19. ^ a b c d "Company History".
  20. ^ a b c "Short Line Railroads".
  21. ^ "Short Line Railroads".

External links[edit]