The Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railway

The Kansas City Clinton & Springfield Railway connected Olathe, KS with Ash Grove, MO along a 155 mile right of way

KCC&S Steam Engine, c.1924. Springfield-Greene County Library.

Built in 1885, it long paralleled the Kansas City and Southern Railway, which ran a quite similar route in spots. Eventually both lines became part of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway ("The Frisco"), who would purchase the railroad in 1928, incorporating parts of the line into it's Kansas City-Springfield route, while abandoning most stretches by the mid-1930's. This section was deemed inferior and redundant to the better constructed right of way, leading to its abandonment.

The 1894 USGS Clinton Map shows the routes running in parallel to each other, and offers a hint at how close these rights of way were, in some spots running beside each other. Interestingly, much of these parts of the route are underwater today as a result of the construction of the Truman Reservoir.

Source: USGS Historic Topo Map Explorer

When the routes were combined, a new line between Deepwater and Brownington was constructed, filling the roughly three mile gap between the two formerly competing lines at that point.

Source: USGS Historic Topo Map Explorer

Like many of the ill-maintained short line roads that are discussed in this blog, this line too developed a derisive nickname, the "Leaky Roof". According to KCCRM, this "came from the old and somewhat run down freight cars the KCCS used. One of their major customers was the W. S. Dicky Clay Company in Deepwater. The company shipped clay tiles on KCCS which were impervious to the elements, and because of this, just about any old freight car would do. According to legend the superintendent of the White Swan Flour Mill in Clinton, which shipped flower over the KCCS, looked out over their yards and told his men not to ship any flour that day because of all the leaky roofs."

The Springfield-Belton, MO branch of The Frisco would be abandoned in the 1970's, abandoning the entire right-of-way of the KCC&S mainline between Olathe and Ash Grove.

A small branch line to Pleasant Hill, MO is ironically all that survives of the line today, under the flag of the Union Pacific.

Thanks as always for reading!


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