St. Louis–San Francisco Railway

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St. Louis–San Francisco Railway
St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Logo, October 1940.png
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway system map (1918).svg
Frisco system as of 1918; the Fort Worth and Rio Grande in central Texas was sold to the Santa Fe Railway in 1937
HeadquartersSpringfield, Missouri[1]
Reporting markSLSF
LocaleAlabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas
Dates of operation1876–1980
SuccessorBurlington Northern
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (reporting mark SLSF), also known as the "Frisco", was a railroad that operated in the Midwest and South Central U.S. for 104 years between 1876 and April 17, 1980. At the end of 1970, it operated 4,547 miles (7,318 km) of road on 6,574 miles (10,580 km) of track, not including subsidiaries Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway or the Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad; that year, it reported 12,795 million ton-miles of revenue freight and no passengers. It was purchased and absorbed into the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1980.[2] Despite its name, it never came close to San Francisco.


Preserved wooden caboose on display in Missouri
Preserved Railway Express Agency car, along with Kiamichi EMD F7 slug No. SL1, at the Frisco Depot Museum in Hugo, Oklahoma

The St. Louis–San Francisco Railway was incorporated in Missouri on September 7, 1876. It was formed from the Missouri Division and Central Division of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. This land grant line was one of two railroads (the other being the M-K-T) authorized to build across Indian Territory. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, interested in the A&P right of way across the Mojave Desert to California, took the road over until the larger road went bankrupt in 1893; the receivers retained the western right of way but divested the ATSF of the St. Louis–San Francisco mileage on the Great Plains. After bankruptcy, the Frisco emerged as the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, incorporated on June 29, 1896,[3][4] which also went bankrupt. On August 24, 1916, the company was reorganized as the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway, though the line never went west of Texas, terminating more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from San Francisco.

The St. Louis–San Francisco Railway had two main lines: St. LouisTulsaOklahoma City-Floydada, Texas and Kansas CityMemphisBirmingham. The junction of the two lines was in Springfield, Missouri, home to the company's main shop facility and headquarters. Other lines included:

From March 1917 through January 1959, the Frisco, in a joint venture with the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad, operated the Texas Special. This luxurious train, a streamliner from 1947, ran from St. Louis to Dallas, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas.

The Frisco merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad on November 21, 1980.[2]

The city of Frisco, Texas, was named after the railroad and uses the former railroad's logo as its own logo. The logo is modeled after a stretched-out raccoon skin[5][6] (giving rise to Frisco High School's mascot, the Fighting Raccoons).

Passenger trains[edit]

The Sunnyland at Birmingham Alabama's Union Station on April 15, 1963

While the Texas Special may be the most famous passenger train the Frisco ever operated, it also had an entire fleet of named trains. These included:

  • Black Gold (a joint Frisco-Katy operation inaugurated between Tulsa and Houston on January 23, 1938 and continuing until January 18, 1960)[7]
  • Firefly (Kansas City–Tulsa, originally on to Oklahoma City)
  • General Wood (Originally between St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri from May 1941; truncated in June 1942 to service between St. Louis and Newburg, Missouri; and, discontinued entirely in the fall of 1946.)[8]
  • Governor (Joplin-Tulsa-Oklahoma City)[9]
  • Kansas City–Florida Special (Kansas City–Jacksonville)
  • Kansas Limited (St. Louis-Wichita-Ellsworth)[9]
  • Kansas Mail (St. Louis-Wichita)[9]
  • Memphian (St. Louis–Memphis)
  • Memphis Passenger (St. Louis–Memphis)[9]
  • Meteor (St. Louis–Tulsa-Oklahoma City by night with connecting train Monett-Fort Smith-Paris, TX)
  • Oil Fields Special (Kansas City-Tulsa-Dallas-Ft. Worth, with through service to Houston)[9]
  • Oklahoman (Once connected Kansas City–Tulsa but was later rerouted (between St. Louis–Oklahoma City)
  • Southland (Kansas City–Birmingham) (truncated successor to the Kansas City–Florida Special)
  • Southwest Limited (St. Louis-Tulsa-Oklahoma City-Lawton)[9]
  • St. Louis-Memphis Limited (St. Louis-Memphis-Birmingham)[9]
  • Sunnyland (Kansas City/St. Louis–Atlanta/Pensacola/New Orleans)
  • Tulsa Texan (a joint Frisco-Katy operation inaugurated between Tulsa and Houston in 1937, and phased out between March and July of 1940)[7]
  • Texas Flash (Tulsa-Sherman-Dallas by day)
  • Texokla Limited (St. Louis-Springfield-Dallas)[9]
  • Texas Limited (St. Louis-Springfield-Dallas, with through service to Houston-Galveston)[9]
  • Texas Special (St. Louis-Springfield-Dallas-Ft. Worth, with through service to Austin-San Antonio)[9]
  • Will Rogers (St. Louis–Oklahoma City/Wichita by day)
  • Chadwick Flyer (Branch line from Springfield to Chadwick, Missouri)

Former Frisco lines today[edit]

1899 poster showing a boy and a girl in a SLSF waiting room

The core of the former Frisco system continues to be operated by BNSF Railway as high-density mainlines. Other secondary and branchlines have been sold to shortline operators or have been abandoned altogether.

Surviving equipment[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

  • Frisco 19, a 2-8-0 Consolidation-type built in 1910 and on static display in Frisco, Texas located adjacent to the Frisco Depot replica and the BNSF tracks that run through the city.[10] (Note: This locomotive is lettered Frisco, but it did not actually operate on the SLSF. It is the former Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad 19. It was purchased by the City of Frisco, Texas, as a static display, and is representative of a typical Frisco locomotive. Frisco operated a number of Consolidations as Frisco-series 1306 engines.[11])
  • Frisco 73, a 2-6-0 “Mogul” built by Baldwin in 1916.[12] It has 19" cylinders and 49-1/2" driving wheels.[12] Numbered as 34 when Frisco acquired its owner, the Jonesboro, Lake City and Eastern Railroad in 1925, the locomotive was renumbered to 73 and kept by the Frisco until sold on September 19, 1945 to the Delta Valley and Southern Railway, a short line operator in northeast Arkansas.[12] It is preserved on the Lee Wesson Plantation in Victoria, Arkansas[13] under the Delta Valley & Southern Locomotive No. 73 name with no visible numbers on the cab or tender,[14] but with the original Frisco raccoon-skin-shaped number board and “73” on its nose.[12]
  • Frisco 1351, built in 1912 as a 2-8-0 Consolidation (Frisco 1313), and converted by Frisco to a 2-8-2 Mikado in November 1943.[11] Now on static display in Collierville, Tennessee.[15]
  • Frisco 1352, built by ALCO in 1912 as a 2-8-0 Consolidation (Frisco 1321), and converted by Frisco in June of 1944 to a 2-8-2 Mikado.[16] Disassembled in Taylorville, Illinois; awaiting restoration to operating condition.[17]
  • Frisco 1355, built by ALCO in 1912 as a 2-8-0 Consolidation (Frisco 1318), and converted in October of 1945[16] to a 2-8-2 Mikado in Frisco's main shops in Springfield.[18] Given that the 1350-1356 series were both the last steam locomotives rebuilt by Frisco and the last Mikados built anywhere in the United States, No. 1355 is the last surviving.[16] Now displayed on Garden Street, Pensacola, Florida, near the site of the SLSF passenger depot demolished in 1967.[19]
  • Frisco 1501, one of thirty 4-8-2 Mountain type locomotives purchased from Baldwin for freight and passenger service; this was an oil-burning model delivered in 1923.[20] On static display in Schuman Park, Rolla, MO since 1955. Several parts from Frisco 1501 were donated to Frisco 1522 to make/keep 1522 operational. Video
  • Frisco 1519, a Baldwin 4-8-2 Mountain-type delivered in 1925,[20] now at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma in Enid, Oklahoma.[21][22][23]
  • Frisco 1522, a Baldwin 4-8-2 Mountain-type delivered in 1926.[20] It was at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri until 1988, when it began pulling excursions. In 2002, it was returned to the Museum of Transportation.[24]
  • Frisco 1526, a Baldwin 4-8-2 Mountain-type delivered in 1926,[20] located at the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton, Oklahoma.[25][23]
  • Frisco 1527, a Baldwin 4-8-2 Mountain-type delivered in 1926.[20] On static display in Langan Park in Mobile, Alabama[26] since 1964.
  • Frisco 1529, a Baldwin 4-8-2 Mountain-type, delivered in 1926.[20] The train hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, and was eventually the last steam engine to make a passenger run for Frisco. Now on static display in Frisco Park in Amory, Mississippi.[23]
  • Frisco 1615, built by ALCO in 1917 as a 2-10-0 Russian locomotive class Ye (commonly called a “Russian Decapod") with a 5’ gauge.[20] When the tsarist government was overthrown before delivery to Russia, the unit was rebuilt as a standard-gauge locomotive and sold through the United States Railroad Administration to Frisco.[20] It was purchased from Frisco by Eagle Picher Industries Inc in 1951 and used to haul lead and zinc from the Picher Field to the E-P mill in Miami, Oklahoma until 1954.[27] It was acquired by the City of Altus, Oklahoma on October 22, 1967, and remains on static display there.[27]
  • Frisco 1621, another 2-10-0 Russian Decapod, also built in 1918. On static display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri.[28]
  • Frisco 1625, another 2-10-0 Russian Decapod, also built in 1918. After intermediate service with the Eagle-Picher Mining Co., now on static display at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas.[29]
  • Frisco 1630, another 2-10-0 Russian Decapod, also built in 1918. It has been in excursion service at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois since 1967, and is considered by the museum as their most famous locomotive.[30]
  • Frisco 3695 is a Frisco-series 3600 locomotive, which were 0-6-0 switch engines built between August, 1883, and July, 1906.[31] Ninety-five in number, the only survivor is No. 3695, built in July, 1906 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and serving Frisco thirty-one years before being sold to the Scullin Steel Company and renumbered No. 95.[31][32] The engine was donated in 1956 and is on display at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.[32]
  • Frisco 3749 is a Frisco-series 3700 locomotive, which was a class of forty-six 0-6-0 switch engines built between 1906 and 1910.[33] No. 3749 was built in 1913 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works.[34] Retired from Frisco service in 1952, the engine was leased to the Atmore Prison Farm in Atmore, Alabama before being used in 1956 as a prop in an MGM movie, The Wings of Eagles, starring John Wayne.[33] After later sitting idle for a number of years and being sold for scrap, the engine was moved to the Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida as a static display.[33] In 2012 it was acquired and put on display by the Florida Railroad Museum.[34]
  • Frisco 4003, a 2-8-2 Mikado built in 1919 by Lima and on static display at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas. See Frisco 4003
  • Frisco 4018, a 2-8-2 Mikado built in 1919 by Lima which is on static display at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.[35] This locomotive has the distinction of being the last Frisco steam locomotive in regular service, completing its final run (a five-mile trek from Bessemer to Birmingham, Alabama) on February 29, 1952.[36]
  • Frisco 4500, a 4-8-4 oil-fired Northern-type built in 1942,[37] on static display in Tulsa, Oklahoma, being a locomotive which pulled the Frisco's crack Meteor train.[38]
  • Frisco 4501, an oil-fired 4-8-4[37] on static display at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas,[29] also a former Meteor locomotive.
  • Frisco 4516, 4-8-4 Northern-type coal-fired locomotive[37] on static display at Missouri State Fairgrounds, Sedalia, Missouri, also known as "Old Smokie."[39]
  • Frisco 4524, another wartime 4500-series 4-8-4 coal-fired Northern-type,[37] on static display at the Railroad Historical Museum inside Grant Beach Park in Springfield, Missouri, and wearing the "Frisco Fast Freight" paint scheme.[40] Being the last engine of the last group of steam locomotives purchased by the Frisco, this engine has the distinction of being Frisco's last steam locomotive built.[37]

Diesel locomotives[edit]


Locomotives with 4-4-0 wheel arrangements, known as the "American" type because they were considered for many years to be the standard in American locomotives, originally served Frisco in great numbers.[43] In July, 1903, the Frisco had 159 4-4-0's in service, built by twenty-five different companies.[43] Frisco renumbered its units in that year, assigning the 4-4-0's either numbers between 1-299 (140 units), or 2200-series numbers (19 units).[43] The oldest Frisco 4-4-0 locomotive was No. 47, built in 1869 by Hinkley Locomotive Works.[43] The last serving 4-4-0's were dismantled in July, 1935.[43]


Even more numerous on the Frisco were 4-6-0 “Ten-wheelers.”[44] The first such engines entered the Frisco system in 1870.[44] By 1903, Frisco had a fleet of 430 such locomotives, which were renumbered that year into seven class series, using 400, 500, 600, 700, 1100, 1400, and 2600-series numbers.[44] The last 4-6-0's on the Frisco roster were the 1400 series, with the last engine to be retired from service being #1409, dismantled and sold for scrap in November, 1951.[44]


Frisco-series 2100 equipment consisted of self-propelled rail motor-cars, mostly gas-electric models, commonly known as “Doodlebugs” for their insect-like appearance and the slow speeds at which they would doddle or "doodle" down the tracks.[45] These were used to service various low-volume branch lines in the Frisco organization.[45][46] An initial order for ten was placed in 1910, with seven more arriving by 1913, putting Frisco in the forefront of gas-electric operation at that time.[45] The initial batch, numbered 2100 to 2109, included nine baggage-coach combinations, as well as one baggage-mail-coach unit.[45] Frisco's peak year for motor-car mileage was 1931, and its fleet at that time included twenty-three gas-electrics, five gas-mechanical cars, four trailer coaches, and six mail-baggage units.[45] The final Frisco run of a Doodlebug was on November 8, 1953, when No. 2128 traveled from Ardmore, Oklahoma for the four hour trip to Hugo, Oklahoma.[45]

Frisco Series 4300 and 4400[edit]

Two series of Frisco locomotives not surviving were Frisco 4300s and 4400s. These were all 4-8-2 units assembled by Frisco itself in the late 1930s to the early 1940s from other locomotives. Eleven, being units 4300 through 4310, were built in 1936 and 1937 from used 2-10-2 parts. They had 27 x 30 cylinders, 70″ drivers, a boiler pressure of 250 psi, and a tractive effort of 66,400 lbs, weighing 431,110 pounds. Another twenty-three 4-8-2s were built using the boilers from 2-10-2s between 1939 and 1942. Units 4400 through 4412 were oil-burning, while units 4413 through 4422 burned coal. These locomotives had 29 x 32 cylinders, 70″ drivers, a boiler pressure of 210 psi, and a tractive effort of 68,600 lbs. Weighing in at 449,760 pounds, they were the heaviest Mountain-type locomotives ever built.[23]

Frisco Silver Dollar Line[edit]

The amusement park Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri runs multiple diesel-fired or heating oil-fired steam trains around the park on its 2-foot-gauge rail line, known as the Frisco Silver Dollar Line. The Frisco operated in that part of the country, and supplied construction help to the Park, along with the rails and ties, back when this line was being built in 1962. Perhaps for these reasons, the trains sport the Frisco name and logo. However, this was never an actual Frisco rail line, and the steam locomotives started life as industrial engines on German intraplant railroads, not as actual rolling stock on the Frisco.[47]


The following companies were predecessors of the Frisco:


Frisco 1522 has been preserved and restored. In this picture, the locomotive is sitting in Arkansas City, Kansas.

The following railroads were acquired or merged into the Frisco:

Asset absorptions[edit]

The following is a list of partial or full asset absorptions, many times through bankruptcy courts or creditors. In some cases the Frisco was a creditor. Assets can include mineral rights, property, track and right of way, trains, bonds, mortgages, etc.

Frisco 1621 on display at the Museum of Transportation outside St. Louis, Missouri

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick Hiatte, Springfield, Missouri: The Heart of the Frisco, 1955, Trains magazine, December 2003
  2. ^ a b "About the Frisco Railroad". Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "History of the Frisco". Springfield, Missouri: Springfield-Greene County Library District.
  4. ^ "Corporate History: St. Louis – San Francisco Railway Company". The Truman Area Community Network. Henry County Library. June 2, 2008. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
  5. ^ "FRISCO INTERNATIONAL WIDE VISION CABOOSE #239". Canadian Model Trains Inc. March 12, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  6. ^ "100 Years of Service". Frisco Veterans' Reunion via Springfield-Greene County Library. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  7. ^ a b "Frisco, Texas" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, April, 1989 (accessed on Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "Building the Railroad to Fort Leonard Wood" (PDF). Old Settlers Gazette. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Porto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Cuba, January 1923, pp.621-636". 1923. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "1910 Steam Locomotive". Frisco Heritage Association. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Archived 2017-06-11 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 6-11-15.
  12. ^ a b c d "New Frisco Survivor" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, January, 1990 (accessed on Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  13. ^ "Surviving Steam Locomotives in Arkansas". Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  14. ^ "Historic Trains of Arkansas—Locomotives and Railcars". Julie Kohl, Only in Arkansas, February 5, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
  15. ^ "Collierville's Resident Steam Engine Gets Its Own Special Day". Town of Collierville. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c "The Whyte System" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, July, 1989 (accessed on Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  17. ^ Frisco 1352
  18. ^ "SLSF 1350 #1355". Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  19. ^ "Frisco Railroad". Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h "1501". Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  21. ^ "Railroad Museum of Oklahoma, On Track for Railroad History!". Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  22. ^ "Railroad Museum of Oklahoma". Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d "The Frisco Park Steam Engine". City of Amory, Mississippi. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "1926 St. Louis-San Francisco Railway #1522 Locomotive (Frisco)". The National Museum of Transportation. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  25. ^ "Frisco 1526 (photo)". Museum of the Great Plains. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  26. ^ "A Walk in the Park- Langan Park, aka Municipal Park, Mobile, AL". Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  27. ^ a b "SLSF #1615". Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Eagle-Picher St. Louis-San Francisco Railway #1621". The National Museum of Transportation. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  29. ^ a b Railroad, Museum of the American. "Steam Locomotives".
  30. ^ "Frisco 1630's 100th birthday Celebration September 15th". Illinois Railway Museum. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  31. ^ a b "The Frisco Survivors" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, May, 1988 (accessed on Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  32. ^ a b "St. Louis & San Francisco 95/3695 "Frisco"". The National Museum of Transportation. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  33. ^ a b c "Frisco Survivors" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, July, 1988 (accessed on Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Non-active Steam Locomotives". Florida Railroad Museum. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  35. ^ "St Louis-San Francisco RR No. 4018". Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  36. ^ "Frisco Survivors" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, September, 1988 (accessed on Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  37. ^ a b c d e "St. Louis - San Francisco Railway Company ("Frisco") 4501". Museum of the American Railroad. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  38. ^ "Route 66 Historical Village". Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  39. ^ "Old Smokie, Frisco Engine 4516, Sedalia, Missouri". Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  40. ^ "Railroad Historical Museum". Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  41. ^ a b "OKRX 814 – EMD F9A". Oklahoma Railway Museum. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  42. ^ "St Louis - San Francisco (Frisco) All-Time Diesel Roster". The Diesel Shop. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  43. ^ a b c d e "The Whyte System" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, January, 1989 (accessed on Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  44. ^ a b c d "The Whyte System" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, February, 1989 (accessed on Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  45. ^ a b c d e f "Doodlebugging on the Frisco, Part II" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, April, 1988 (accessed on Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  46. ^ "Doodlebugging on the Frisco, Part III" (PDF). All Aboard, The Frisco Railroad Museum, May, 1988 (accessed on Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  47. ^ "All Aboard--Silver Dollar City Boasts Historic Steam Locomotives, Romantic Ride on the Rails". Laurinda Joenks, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 30, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  48. ^ "Railroad Era Resources Of Southwest Arkansas, 1870-1945". Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (a National Park Service “National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form” filing), 1996, p.19. Retrieved July 15, 2020.

External links[edit]