HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
North Side Frisco Shops
The photograph in this postcard features the old Frisco North Side Shops on the east end of Commercial Street looking northeast, circa 1900. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad (Frisco) moved its repair shops to Springfield in 1873, erecting them on 40 acres of land adjacent to North Springfield. In that year the roundhouse, which could accommodate 12 engines, was built. Also built were shops large enough to repair five engines at a time. By 1877 the shops employed 170 men. A photograph taken in 1926 shows 1200 to 1500 male employees who worked three shifts and produced a locomotive a day. The railroad was such an important element of Springfield's economy that, according to Hank Billings, when "the Frisco whistled, Springfield answered."
Many of the buildings of the North Side Shops predated 1873, as the land was originally given by the city of Springfield to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, which later merged with the Frisco. After the Gulf Railroad merged with the Frisco, construction of the West Side Shops was started in about 1906. These opened July 5, 1909. After the West Side Shops were opened the lighter repair work was done in the old North Side Shops. After World War II and the change to diesel engines, the oldest structures were no longer used. Between 1955 and 1959 most of the 40-plus North Side Shops buildings were razed.
At this writing the Frisco Railroad Museum Inc. is located in the area of the lower right corner of the postcard. According to the City Directory, the area of the North Side Shops now has light industrial-type buildings.