Monday, November 15, 2010

Setting the Tracks Straight: I

I keep coming back to the Searcy depot.

My problem was, I didn't realize it should have been depots, the plural. In the late 19th century, Searcy was bypassed by the major railroad (the Cairo & Fulton, at the time). Town leaders struggled to get the live-giving metal rails to pass through this town, and they finally did - but Searcy was still a bit off the beaten track. So at various times, Searcy had three unique railroads, each with their own station, passing through.

1. The Doniphan, Kensett & Searcy Railroad

This was the first railroad to make it through the town, and it was an extremely short line. "Doniphan" doesn't even really exist anymore as a town, being mostly just a location between Searcy and Kensett. In its early days, the DK&S was a wooden tram line between Kensett and Searcy.

Oh, and no locomotives traveled it. Instead, passengers rode on a flat cart pulled by mules. Yep.

Here's that depot:

The DK&S went through multiple owners and identities, finally being absorbed by the supermassive Union Pacific Railroad. Ironically, though it was the smallest railroad in town, it's the only one with any tracks left. The tracks leading down Park Avenue past the Cloverdale area is the original roadbed leading from Kensett.

In fact, it's probably because Upac owns the building that it still stands today:

The wooden surface sticking out on the left is the freight loading dock. It would seem that the DK&S building was once about twice as long, judging by the older picture, but it was never the town's most glamorous station. This area was once the town's booming industrial area, home to strawberry packing and a prosperous shoe factory.

Two more to come!


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