The Daily Journal newspaper, in its October 23, 1970 issue, reported the bleak future of Missouri Pacific railroad’s Belmont Branch.
The Belmont Branch, originally built by the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern railroad, connected St. Louis and southeast Missouri with the Southeast United States beginning at Bismarck and terminating at Belmont where it connected with a ferry on the Mississippi River.
When the Belmont Branch was completed in 1869, the line was an important means of transporting area timber, mineral and agricultural resources but by 1970 was struggling to turn a profit. Despite this fact it was still a valuable resource for communities along the line that hoped to attract industry through their rail connection. As the Daily Journal noted, one of those industries was Ozark Steel Fabricators, located in Farmington.
“While the historic site of the proposed abandonment of the Belmont Branch Line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad is discussed, stronger opposition to the proposal is expected to come from communities and industries served along the 65 mile stretch of railroad, including Ozark Steel Fabricators in Farmington… the historic line runs from Bismarck to Whitewater, which is located north of Jackson. It is the only rail service for the communities such as Fredericktown, Lutesville and Marble Hill.”
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