In 1896, the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific
railroads signed an agreement ending their quarrel over which road
would control a proposed mainline through the strategically important
Lewshinn area by providing for joint administration of the stretch.
Leasing the rights to the old NCC's Lewshinn terminus, the
partnership entity built a standard gauge yard. It finally
purchased the site in 1907 from JoShia's alcoholic son, JoShia M.
Gready, Jr., who had gamboled and drank away the bulk of the fortune
left him by his father, who had died in 1905.
Before Jr. could gamble away this money, his
wife had him declared incompetent and took over the family's
financial activities. She established a saw mill, Gready Mills,
several miles up the old NCC rails to process timber brought down from
family owned lands around Baarstol Mountain. Finished lumber was
shipped to a new reload dock west of Lewshinn via the refurbished
narrow gauge, and timber was pulled from the mountain on skid trails
for about a year, until Mrs. Gready decided that extending the rails
into the show would be more economical.
She incorporated the mill in order to provide
the funds to build the initial trunk line, keeping a large, controlling
interest block for herself. The right of way was legally
abandoned from the mill site down to Najidae and the rails taken up to
use on part of the new line as a cost cutting measure.
SERVICE BRINGS STANDARD GAUGE
In 1926, the Strangville chamber of commerce
approached the recently widowed Mrs. Gready with a proposal to extend
the railroad into the town, citing figures prepared by the town's
banker on the benefits of the plan to both town and mill, and the just
incidental fact that the railroad she was using was still listed as a
common carrier line. Widow Gready attached to the proposal her
decision to upgrade the mill to Lewshinn stretch to standard gauge to
eliminate the costly reload problem and promptly sent the company
surveyors out to lay out the new routes required.
Organized as a wholly owned subsidiary
corporation of Gready Mills, Inc., the new railroad was named the
Leisure Prairie Railroad after the prairie on which Strangville, where
the new head office would by prior agreement be located, was situated.
The LP took over general administration of all right of way from
Lewshinn to Strangville. The mill operated the NCC itself, with
trackage rights to Trajady, where the logging line split off to
continue into the mountains. Sometime during the upgrade the
decision was made to standard gauge the whole line up to Strangville
and operate dual gauge to Trajady, keeping the NCC as a narrow gauge.
Standard gauge locomotives were leased from
both the UP and NP. Seeing a chance to one-up its partner, the NP
privately insisted on trackage rights from Upper Caladan to Lewshinn on
the new LP standard gauge as a condition of its lease agreement.
The NP then built a bridge line to connect with the LP at Upper
When this side agreement became public, an
understandably upset UP management became quite irate. Only some
aggressive mediation from Widow Gready controlled the new fight enough
to achieve a concession from the NP to share the trackage rights and
new bridge line with its partner.
It quickly became apparent that the LP would
need a classification yard at Lewshinn, and the Upper Crabbon to
Lewshinn stretch was sold to the NP in exchange for trackage rights for
the LP and the necessary funds to complete the new yard, located at the
site of the old reload.
It came as quite a surprise when Widow Gready
announced another agreement with the NP/UP joint operation. This
one having the LP take over administration of the peddlers on the
jointly operated trackage, with crews provided for all LP trains by the
two larger roads. The Leisure Prairie had, in short order, become
a true common carrier, even handling the logs for the competing
Kleerkut Logging Company and its parent company, Potlatch Corporation,
which had a paper mill in Lewshinn.
LP JOINS THE WAR EFFORT
The Great Depression treated the fledgling enterprise
as well as most small