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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

The Chadwick Line

 Frisco Steam engineThe closing of the Chadwick railroad line brings back memories of the first encounters between the railroad and Ozark citizens.

Many Reminisce on Old Line
First Train Brought Terror to Ozarkians

Springfield Press, April 2, 1933, page 7. 

"The passing of the old Chadwick line has stirred memories in the minds of many 'old-timers' along the route, who recall their first train. One reminiscence comes from W. Thad Tunnell of Ozark who tells how he and a number of others 'Took to the tall brush' when the train first came in, in terror lest the snorting iron monster should blow up and deal terrible death to them all. He tells how all of the countryside’s population was gathered to see the first train come in at Ozark, making an all day picnic affair of it; how cries of 'Here she comes,' echoed down the line and in the meadows as the townsfolk first saw the steaming monster.

 Chadwick Mo. Postoffice, no date, from the library collection."'What a moving mountain that train was to me,' Mr. Tunnell writes. 'It seemed alive to me and I was really afraid of the thing. All at once great clouds of black smoke began to boil out of the top of this monster, and steam from the top and bottom shot out with an awful noise and I decided the thing was getting ready to blow up. I looked at my brother and he looked as bad as I felt. We were scared. Off we started, through the buck brush, the black briars, post oak saplings, hurtling bushes and tearing up a hill. We would have made it home but our wind gave out."

"'Finally we sat down and talked it over and decided we’d venture back since we could see the engine hadn’t blown up yet.'  This excitement was matched by the celebration of the construction of the first railroad trestle near Ozark.  On this occasion someone shouted, 'Look out; she’s going to turn around!' and the entire populace, so Mr. Tunnell says, turned and ran for the timber along the creek and some of them even dived into the water for greater safety."

More about the Chadwick line from the White River Valley Historical Quarterly, Summer 1974…"When the railroad west of St. Louis was being built, south Missouri became populous and prosperous because of the railroad tie industry. A spur of the Frisco was built from Springfield to Chadwick, and that town had two banks and as many saloons. Along with the railroad, of course came the telegraph, a mythical marvel to many of the woodsmen and farmers. Indeed, the railroad itself was such a novelty that people came from miles around to see the train arrive in Ozark or Chadwick on a Sunday afternoon, which was the time of day it arrived. One afternoon one of these onlookers spied a piece of yellow paper at the foot of a telegraph pole. Picking it up he waved it about, saying, 'Here’s one o’ them spatcher things that dropped off of the wire. I’ll take it into the office.'"

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