Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dallas County Railroad

In a piece I posted back in October about the communist Friendship Community that Alcander Longley established in Dallas County in the 1870s, I said that one of the reasons the community failed and people moved away from it was threats from Dallas County neighbors. Another reason, though, was the failure of a railroad project known in Dallas County history as the "railroad that was never built." Langley started his community in the early 1870s with an understanding that the Laclede and Fort Scott Railroad, stretching from Lebanon, Missouri, to Fort Scott, Kansas, would soon span Dallas County, allowing potential residents from across the country easy access to his isolated community and providing a ready means of shipping and receiving needed goods. When the railroad didn't come, neither did the anticipated influx of communists.
Plans for the railway had first been announced back in 1869 during the railroad-building frenzy that followed the Civil War, and the clearing and grading of the roadbed started shortly afterwards. Dallas Countians heaped upon themselves a huge indebtedness in the form of bonds to help pay for the venture, but the railroad started experiencing financial difficulties in the 1870s, and the project was never completed. Citizens of Dallas County felt cheated and for many years refused to pay off the bonds. A compromise on the indebtedness was not reached until around 1920, and the last of the bonds was finally paid off about 1940. Dallas County citizens gathered at Buffalo (the county seat) to celebrate the occasion and to burn the bonds. At the time, traces of the old roadbed, the "railroad that was never built," were still visible around Buffalo, but even those signs are getting hard to see nowadays.

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