Lately I’ve been finding a lot of information on the railroad that passed through Bollinger county. Originally built by the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern, the line eventually fell into the hands of the Missouri Pacific railroad and though few signs remain to remind the public the railroad existed, it was once an engineering marvel, and an important part of the local economy. However, by 1970 times were changing. The December 15, 1970 edition of The Daily Journal (Flat River, Missouri) carried the news of Missouri Pacific’s plan to abandon the line, as well as efforts to save it by local elected officials. According to the paper:
“Congressman Bill D. Burlison spoke out strongly in a letter to the acting chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission last week, protesting the proposed abandonment of the Missouri Pacific Railroad line from Bismark to Whitewater, commonly known as the Belmont Branch Line.
“It is difficult to predict the full impact abandonment of the line would have on the communities it serves”, Burlison said in his letter to Dale W. Hardin, “We can not estimate the importance of new businesses which may not locate in the area because of the lack of rail facilities,” the congressman noted. “However, we have ample evidence on the impact of existing businesses and the more than 100,000 residents of the four counties.”
The Daily Journal reported that Black River Electric Cooperative received 1300 utility poles by rail in the first nine months of that year at Fredericktown and that the Lutesville Pallet Company had shipped 63 carloads of pallets and received 32 carloads of lumber in the first 10 months of 1970. Also noted by the paper was the news that representatives of businesses and local government had formed an organization and hired a law firm to oppose the abandonment of the Belmont Branch in public hearings.