One Man's Quest for the Rock Island

Updated July 19, 2003 11:36 PM

From the archives of the RITS List

Forwarded report from a RITS conventioneer. DT
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 01:28:57 EDT
Subject: Greetings from Enid, OK.

For those of you NOT traveling to the convention, I have a couple of notes to keep you entertained.

I flew into DFW on Saturday night, a few days before, to do some pre-convention sightseeing. On Sunday, I checked out the new stations for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. DART uses the former RI line between Ft. Worth and Dallas. Irving has a nice covered bus terminal, however the passenger loading platform has a rather small and open covering, so I guess they really don't plan on many wet weather riders.

The DFW station was only partly done. The Bus transfer area was "un-ready," along with much landscaping, signage, sidewalks, and the access roads. Richland Hills was mostly complete and ready to go. DFW had lots of parking available, while the other two had very restrictive parking. (That figures!)

I was not alone in checking out the new stations. I saw several people at each station who came by to check things out. I also stopped by the servicing yard and saw the train sets. One was on display and nicely painted, the other locomotive (I assume) was in black primer. Today was supposed to be the inaugural runs. Anyway, after that I headed to Ft. Worth and Peach Yard. I don't know, after living in Silvis for a good part of my life, Peach Yard didn't impress me. From there, it was northward to Oklahoma.

I got confused in my directions and missed the Rock Island line through Boyd, Paradise, Bridgeport, Chico, and Park Springs. I didn't realize I was really following the Santa Fe until I saw a BNSF train at Decatur, TX. Duh!? I'll catch them on the way back.

I got back on the RI line at Bowie, TX. Sorry to say that I didn't see anything 'til reaching Waurika, OK. The people there have done an excellent job of restoring the depot and they have a wide-vision caboose parked to the north of the depot. From there, I decided to see if I could find anything remaining from the Ardmore branch.

Since most of the branch had been removed long ago, I didn't expect to find much. From that aspect, I wasn't disappointed. I didn't find ANYTHING until reaching Coalgate.

For those of you not familiar, the line ran from Ardmore through Provence, Durwood, Mannsville, Russett, Randolph, Teller, Tishomingo, Milburn, Rea, Crusher, Wapanucka, Hardwood, Olney, Coalgate Junction, Cottonwood, Cairo, Wardville, Reynolds, Edwards, Hay Ranch, Blanco, to Haileyville.

When I say I didn't find anything, I meant it. No depots, no outbuildings, no track, no overgrown right-of-way, nothing.

Finally, when I reached Coalgate I found the right-of way. At Cottonwood, I found a concrete bridge pier. That's it, that's all there is. Once reaching Reynolds, I was quickly running out of light so I headed for McAlester for the night. So much for Sunday. I do have photos and when I get home and figure out how to get my new software to connect with my old website, I'll post them.

Today's tour will have to wait for the next post since it's after midnight now.

One other note: Rock issues 113 and 114 were sent to the printer before I left California and will be distributed shortly after I get home.

Matt Willett
Newsletter Editor