Rural Missouri - October 2020 - 16
END OF THE LINE FOR FRISCO NO. 1501
The inside of the passenger car now looks
much the way it would have when it was built
in 1883. It featured seats that flipped when
the train changed directions.
going on he gave us a nice salute on
his whistle. It just happened there
was someone in the cab of the steam
engine and he whistled back. It was
like it came back to life."
One boy who attended the event
told Nick, "Mister, this is the best day
of my whole life." An older man said
he had wanted to blow the whistle for
50 years and finally got the chance.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of our people to work on
that," Nick says. "We may never get
another chance to work on something
like this. But you never know. We
might get a call from some other city.
'We saw what you did and we will pay
you to do that here.' "
Rolla's parks director says the COVID-19 situation had a silver lining
for Rolla. "You don't want bad things
to happen but in this case it really
benefited us," Floyd says. "We can't
say enough to thank all the volunteers who contributed. No detail was
too big and no detail was too small.
There's a volunteer spirit in this town
that manifests itself in projects like
Perhaps the hard work paid off in
other ways for Nick and his employees. His construction crew is again
working, USA Tours hosted four postCOVID-19 bus tours in August, taking guests to several national parks,
and charter business from Ft. Leonard Wood, Army Reserve and National
Guard units is again putting its bus
drivers behind the wheel.
You can learn more about Frisco
No. 1501 at www.rollamoparks.org/
frisco-train or call 573-364-8659. For
more information about USA Tours,
visit www.tourusa.com or call 800492-2601.
RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2020
Rolla's Frisco No. 1501 has a huge following among railfans. Local brewery Public
House Brewing Co. even named one of its beers, Frisco 1501 Historic Lager, in
honor of it. The locomotive once puffed its way along the Frisco Railroad passing
through many Missouri towns along the way. There are still Frisco employees around
who drove the train, and they pay their respects to the veteran locomotive on display in Rolla's Shuman Park.
The engine was one of 30 similar models built for the Frisco by Baldwin Locomotive Works. They were designed to handle the worst inclines on the Frisco lines
and were dubbed "Mountain" engines. Equipped with four pilot wheels, eight massive
drivers and two trailing wheels, the engines were dual purpose locomotives that
could pull freight or passenger trains up the steepest Ozarks grade.
The drive wheels on the engines measure 70 inches tall. The engines weigh approximately 350,000 pounds. Coupled behind them was an oil tender that could haul
4,500 gallons of fuel for the hungry firebox and 12,000 gallons of water. They cost
$70,000 each. These engines could hit speeds of 70 mph.
No. 1501 and the other series engines ran from Union Station in St. Louis to
Oklahoma City, and from Kansas City to Birmingham, Alabama. Both routes were
700 miles in length. They pulled well-known passenger cars such as the Texas Special,
Meteor, Sunnyland and the Blue Bonnet.
Its last run came in the 1950s as diesel power replaced steam on the Frisco line.
Scheduled steam operation was phased out on the Frisco by February 1952, although some steam engines were used in reserve until 1956. The Frisco itself lasted
from 1876 until 1980, when it merged with the Burlington-Northern.
On Jan. 25, 1955, old No. 1501 was presented to Phelps County along with a
passenger coach built in 1883 by the Smith Barney Co. When the engine arrived in
Rolla, 1.7 million miles had passed under its wheels.
In 1988 the pistons were removed from the engine and used to restore No.
1522 as a working steam engine, which operated as an excursion train until 2002.
Other parts were removed by vandals, including the original bell. Its latest restoration painstakingly returned it to its former glory to keep alive the age of steam for
several more generations.
Frisco No. 1501 pulls the Texas Special under steam outside St. Louis in 1941. In the bottom
photo it is shown with its crew and with the volunteers who helped move it to Rolla.
Rural Missouri - October 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2020
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