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Going to the NRHS 2014 Convention Day 4 6/9/2014

Neosho, Missouri to Springdale, Arkansas and The Branson Scenic Railway Trip

by Chris Guenzler

I was up at 5:45 AM at the Super 8 Hotel in Neosho, posted the story on then went to the lobby to have a light breakfast which I brought back to my room as I checked things on the Internet. I met Bob and Elizabeth at their car and we started our day with tour along the Kansas City Southern mainline down to Decatur. Our first stop was in Anderson.

The Kansas City Southern station in Anderson. This road was one of the neatest roads I had ever travelled. We kept on seeing signs that said vertical clearance. Then we came up to what it was. It was the rocks hanging over the road. I had never been on a road like this and it was quite enjoyable to take it. From there we went to Noel.

KCS station in Noel. We made our way south to Gravette.

KCS caboose 383 at Gravette. From here we crossed into Arkansas and went south to Decatur.

The KCS station in Decatur.

KCS caboose 385.

KCS F unit and caboose indicator.

KCS F7A 73D.

KCS speeder. From here we drove over to the interstate in Bentonville and stopped at McDonald's for breakfast. Then we headed back north to the Super 8 in Neosho where I got my car and we left Neosho for our first stop in Monark Springs.

The Missouri and Northern Arkansas passenger shelter and caboose.

The passenger shelter.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas caboose 300. From here, we made our way to Wheaton.

Station and caboose in Wheaton.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas station in Wheaton.

Frisco caboose 115. From here we drove to Butterfield and followed the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad north to Monett. We crossed over the tracks on a bridge, looked down and saw a BNSF train. We then drove over by it and found ourselves standing on the platforms that were used by the passengers at the station that is long gone.

BNSF 5090 west.

Norfolk Southern DS-40CW 9259. We next drove east to Aurora.

The Frisco passenger station in Aurora.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13558. We had passed the locomotive while driving to the depot so Elizabeth and I went over to investigate.

Missouri and Northern Arkansas SD35 3392. From here, we then drove down toward Galena but had to make a stop in Crane.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13418. From Crane, we went down to Galena.

Missouri Pacific station in Galena.

UP 6487 north on a coal train with a DPU on the rear. From here we drove through Branson to Hollister.

Missouri Pacific station in Hollister.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13535. We then drove to the Branson Scenic Railway Station to pick up our tickets for our 2:00 PM trip today.

The Branson Scenic Railroad 6/9/2014

BSRX 98 is a 1951 EMD F9APH formerly B&O then MARC 83 on the north end of the train, BSRX 8336 Westport, BSRX 8503 Silver Chief ex CB&Q Diner, BSRX 9540 Silver Island ex CB&Q, BSRX 9320 Silver Terrace a 1952 Budd Dome Observation ex CB&Q, Parlor Car Casimar Pulaski from the Pennsylvania Railroad, PPCX 800287 Silver Garden a 1952 Budd Dome Lounge Coach ex CB&Q, PPCX 800603 Silver Eagle a 1949 Budd 60 Seat Coach ex Texas & Pacific, Baggage Dorm and BSRX 99 is a 1962 EMD GP-30M ex C&O.

The Trip

They board people by ticket number and since they did not have my comp ticket waiting for me that I had organized a few months ago, I ended up getting ticket number 170. Bob and Elizabeth had tickets 14 and 15 so luckily they saved me a seat in the dome car Silver Terrace.

Bob and Elizabeth on their first trip on the Branson Scenic Railway.

The view as we left Branson behind but had to stop to re-align the switch to the main line.

The Bass Pro shop dominates the waterfront landscape in Branson.

The train heading for the bridge over Taneycomo Lake.

Bob and Elizabeth getting their tickets punched by the conductor.

The view looking out of the back of the dome car.

The train going through Hollister.

This line has interesting limestone rock strata along it in places.

The Missouri Pacific Hollister station and caboose that we photographed less than an hour ago.

Historic downtown Hollister.

Turkey Creek.

A field along the tracks on a day that we have experienced intermittent showers.

The train takes one of the many curves where one can look out of the front or back of the train and see both ends.

Just another view looking back out of a non-rain dropped window at the rear of the dome.

Entering Crest Tunnel, a 3,485 foot bore completed in 1903.

Inside Crest Tunnel.

Exiting Crest Tunnel.

A look at the front of the train.

A look at the rear of the train.

The train entering Cricket Tunnel, a 2,746 foot bore completed in 1904.

The train inside Cricket Tunnel.

The train exiting Cricket Tunnel.

The Branson Scenic GP30M leading our train south.

The train crosses Barren Fork Trestle, which is 913 feet long and 125 feet high.

Heading toward Walnut Creek Trestle.

The train went out onto the 474 foot Walnut Creek Trestle which is 113 feet high. This is as far south as the train goes from Branson on each trip.

A northbound picture as I was waiting for the train to return to Barren Fork Trestle.

The train crosses Barren Fork Trestle on the return trip. It had been a very enjoyable trip aboard the Branson Scenic Railroad. Bob and Elizabeth really enjoyed it as did I. I was the first person off the train when we returned to Branson as I had an NRHS safety meeting to attend at 7:00 PM in Springdale. I drove back through Hollister to US 65 South into Arkansas then turned west on US 412. I was making such good time that I then took Arkansas 303 up to the War Eagle Mill and was very glad I did when I saw it. I came here because due to my train riding, it would not have been possible to visit here otherwise.

War Eagle Mill

War Eagle Mill History

War Eagle Mill is the only commercially operating waterwheel mill in Arkansas, and is believed to be the only undershot water wheel currently in operation in the United States. The mill is still powered by an eighteen - foot cypress waterwheel, recently rebuilt. Today, the mill still produces stone ground flour, used by restaurants throughout the region. The Mill describes their flour as coming the "War Eagle way - stone ground slow to preserve all the nutrients and the deep, rich taste. Our farmers are committed to maintaining a natural, organic environment for growing grain and work hand-in-hand with us to shorten the time between the field, the milling process and your table." Visitors can buy flour and other local foods and crafts, tour the mill, or eat in the Bean Palace Restaurant on the third floor of the mill. War Eagle Mill is also the site of one of the largest fall craft fairs in the Ozarks. This fair covers several area farms and visitors come from worldwide to buy the best of native crafts.

The history of the mill dates back to 1832, and begins with Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn. Married young, the Blackburns decided to move from Tennessee to make their own fortune. Locating the War Eagle Creek valley in Arkansas, they built a wood house on top of the little hill next to the creek, a house so well built that it is still in use today. To survive, they planted corn, but found that the closest mill was 25 miles away at Richland. They then built their own mill, attracting a great deal of business from their neighbors.

J.A.C. decided to give up the mill so he could run for the Arkansas Senate, and sold the mill to a family named Kilgore. They operated the Mill until 1924 when it burned down again. This time, it was not immediately rebuilt. However, in 1973, Jewel Medlin purchased the property. The family (Jewel, his wife Leta and daughter Zoe Medlin Caywood) researched the mill's history and found blueprints for the third mill. They decided to rebuild the mill for the fourth time, with a change back to the undershot waterwheel that Sylvanus had used over 100 years earlier. Zoe Medlin Caywood headed up operations of the mill until 2004, and wrote the War Eagle Mill Cookbooks using mill ingredients.

In 2004, the mill was sold to preservationists Marty & Elise Roenigk who had relocated to nearby Eureka Springs and were restoring several of the fine old hotels there. Through their efforts, the mill has continued to prosper as its products have reached new markets.

The War Eagle Mill.

The historic bridge from below.

I then walked across the bridge to the west side, as most visitors do.

I paused to look at the water wheel which was fascinating to watch going around and around.

The famous view of the War Eagle Mill that almost everyone takes a photograph of.

Another view of the waterfall and the War Eagle Mill.

The War Eagle Barn.

One last view of the War Eagle Mill.

A view looking up War Eagle River.

Looking downstream. From here I drove into Springdale, stopped at McDonalds who messed up my hamburger order as they put cheese on it which I cannot eat, then checked into the Executive Inn for my stay here. I then labelled the pictures and did most of the manipulations so Elizabeth could type the story later. I went to the NRHS safety meeting at the Holiday Inn then came back to the hotel, went to Walgreens to get some Off Deep Woods repellent to protect me from tics and chiggers. I returned, there was a knock on my door and Elizabeth typed my story. While we were doing that, we checked the score of the hockey game as NBC had the game on NBC Sports Network which most hotels and most people in America do not even get. So I wonder if NBC can work out why the ratings of the hockey game are so low on NBCSN. By the way, the Kings won Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals 3-0. I went to bed a happy LA Kings fan tonight in Arkansas. Tomorrow the NRHS 2014 convention will officially begin.