|Old Newspaper Articles
at Flat River
between 2 and 3 o'clock, as the regular afternoon westbound train of
the Missouri-Illinois was switching at Flat River, a box car climbed
the rail at the switch about one hundred yards west of the depot and
went completely over the bank. When about half way over the embankment,
which is high at this point, the car overturned, leaving the trucks and
rolled completely over on one side.
train crew, using a
heavy steel cable fastened to their locomotive, pulled the overturned
car clear of the rails and removed the trucks to allow room for trains
to pass. They were delayed at Flat River something more than an hour by
the accident. Fortunately no one was injured.
by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois County, Missouri, Fri.
May 25, 1928.
To Cut Off Several Trains
information given the Lead Belt News, is to the effect that the M.R.
& B.T. [Mississippi River & Bonne Terre] Railway will
cut off several trains and do considerable shifting of their station
forces on June 10th. Two passenger trains and two local freights are
among the trains to be cut off. Passenger train schedules will consist
of a train arriving here from St. Louis about noon and returning to the
city about five p.m. Connection will be made at Riverside with the
Missouri Pacific. The new passenger schedule will no doubt do away with
what little business the road now has. Passenger service schedules over
the road have not been arranged for the convenience of the public for
several years, with the result that the busses have about gobbled all
Thomas, operator at Desloge, will be
transferred to Flat River. The passenger station at Flat River will be
closed except about thirty minutes before arrival of trains. Some old
conductors will be reduced to brakemen and some old brakemen either cut
off or placed on the extra board.
LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri. June 1, 1928.
Discontinued Between Riverside and Doe Run
passenger train between Riverside and Doe Run on the Missouri-Illinois
Railroad will be discontinued Saturday by order of the Public Service
Commission. The last run will be made by the north bound train Saturday
afternoon. Conductor John Paul will take the Leadwood freight run and
Engineer Cresswell will go on the extra board as fireman and engineer.
Railroad employees do not appreciate the support given the commission
by some business concerns in having the train discontinued.
by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri. Nov. 29,
Terre Railroad Shops Closed
Missouri-Illinois Railroad Co. shops have been closed and the
employees and machinery have been transferred to other points on the
line, Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Sparta and Dupo, Ill. During the past few
years the employees at the Bonne Terre shop have been gradually reduced
and when closed only a few men were employed there.
For many years during the time the road was owned and operated by the
M.R. & B.T. Ry., a subsidiary of St. Joe Lead Co., 200 or more
men were employed, the road owned and operated some forty steam
locomotives and a large number of passenger and freight cars all of
which were repaired and rebuilt in the Bonne Terre shops. At times 35
or more railroad crews were used which meant some 200 men. Today there
are only two or three crews on the line. Also in those days at least
eighteen stations were on the line from Riverside to Doe Run and some
150 men were engaged in station work. The company now has only six
stations in operation, Herculaneum, Festus, Bonne Terre, Desloge, Flat
River, Rivermines, and less than a dozen men are engaged in that work.
The Leadwood station was closed last week.
The late John F. Kerhmann of Bonne Terre was for many years Master
Mechanic for the M.R. & B.T. Ry. and Harry Hoskings of Bonne
Terre was shop foreman. Among other oldtimers who were connected with
the shops were Ferd Turley, Marsh Chandler, Harry Claywell, Frank
Marchand, the late Chas. Deggendorf, the late Ben Pigg, John Davis,
Albert Davis, Ed McClain, Elisha Cloud, Earl McDaniel, A. R. McKenzie,
Matt Townsend, A. E. Jinkerson, Henry Bouchard, J. D. Berry, Wm.
Cundiff, Wilbur Mitchell, Wm. Burns, John Barker, C. R. Williams and
Published by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St.
Francois Co. MO, Wed.
Feb. 13, 1963.
Railroad Depot for Leadwood
construction of a new depot is well underway by the
Missouri-Illinois carpenter crew. The north end of the old building was
left so agent Eaton would have a place to carry on the business.
The first depot at Leadwood (then known as Owl Creek) was an old box
car. It was used for a few months until the one that has just been
razed was moved there in the summer of 1905 from Rock Springs near Doe
Run. A few years later it was necessary to build an addition to it.
Russell Eaton has served as agent more than thirty years out of his
thirty-seven years of service with the railroad.
The new station will be built on the same plan as those at Rivermines,
Desloge, Festus and Herculaneum.
LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri.
Dec. 9, 1949.
BRAKEMAN KILLED IN FLAT RIVER
Harvey Yancey, 41 years old, a brakeman on the M.R.& B.T.
Railroad, was killed, Tuesday night (May 15, 1917) at 10:15 o'clock
near the Flat River depot [in St. Francois County, Missouri].
Mr. Yancey was a resident of Bonne Terre, and leaves a wife and four
children to mourn his death.
When the accident occured he was setting a brake on a string of ore
cars, which had been pulled from No. 4 shaft and was being placed on a
switch just east of the main line. The supposition is that his brake
stick slipped and caused him to fall between the cars. Conductor
Wilkerson was standing near and heard him call and signed to the
engineer to stop. Sherman was the engineer of Engine No. 1.
His head and both feet were severed and the body badly crushed.
The remains were taken to the Rinke Undertaking rooms and prepared for
shipment to Bonne Terre.
The underal services were conducted at Bonne Terre Thursday (May 19)
and interment made at Fredericktown.
Mr. Yancy was formerly a resident of Desloge.
Three years ago last Monday, Wm. Jobe of Bonne Terre was killed within
30 foot of where this accident occurred, when engine 13 was pushing
some ore cars to No. 4 shaft.
[The Desloge Sun, May 18, 1917]
THE DOOLEY-HARRIS FEUD
Bill Harris Shot and Instantly Killed By
Bill Dooley on the M.R. & B.T. Train
A Graphic and Chronolical [sic] Account of the
Latest Tragedy in this Family Feud
On Wednesday afternoon of last week Bill Dooley shot and killed Bill
Harris in the passenger coach of the M.R. & B.T. train near the
Rock Spring station, and then jumped from the car and made his escape.
The facts, as we have been able to gather them, of this latest killing
in the Dooley-Harris family feud, which so startled the county with its
tragic results at a Doe Run picnic two years ago, chronologically
stated are as follows:
It is reported that on Monday, July 7th, Frank and Jim Harris were in
Bono's saloon at Doe Run, and while there Les and Joe Dooley came in,
whereat the Harrises exposed their guns and eyed the Dooleys. The
Dooleys walked into the rear room, exposed their guns, and then
re-entered the bar-room and eyed the Harrises. Nothing was said on
either side. One of the Dooleys called for beer, while the other eyed
the Harrises. The other Dooley then ordered beer, while the one who
drank first watched the movements of the Harrises. The Dooleys then
backed out of the saloon and went toward home. Afterwards the Harries
were heard to remark, "We expect to get every Dooley, the old lady
included." Bill Dooley and Bill Harris, the actors in the tragedy on
the train, were not present. The Dooleys who were there are supposed to
have told Bill Dooley.
The testimony before the Coroner's inquest last Thursday morning shows
as follows: Bill Dooley came into Doe Run about a half hour before
train time Wednesday afternoon, loitered around town for a while, then
went to the railroad station and took a seat in the waiting room. About
ten minutes afterwards Bill Harris came up to the station from Doe Run,
passed by the door of the waiting room and saw Dooley. It is reported,
but not verified, that Bill Harris had remarked on Tuesday, "We Harris
boys expect to get the Dooleys." When he saw Dooley, Harris entered a
stationary caboose on a side track, used for storing tools, etc., and
hid until the passenger train backed down, when he entered the rear
coach on the opposite side from the station, took a seat on the east
side about the center of the coach and raised the window. Dooley then
came out of the waiting room and said to Jack Allen, "There's one of
them ---- ---- Harrises; he'd better keep his hands out of his pockets
or I'll get him."
Dooley remained standing, talking to Allen until the train had moved
off some twenty feet, when he ran and caught the railing of the rear
platform and was dragged about ten feet before he landed with the
assistance of Conductor Belknap, who was standing on the platform. The
conductor collected his fare to Elvins and went inside the coach,
leaving Dooley standing outside the door. In the coach he found Bill
Harris and another passenger, who was afterwards identified as W. H.
McCarver, sitting in the same seat with Harris. Harris paid his fare to
Bonne Terre, McCarver to Flat River. Just about the time the train
crossed the gravel road, Dooley entered the coach from the rear,
approached Harris, who was sitting with his back to him, stood a moment
and returned to the platform. In a very short time he again entered the
coach and approached nearer to Harris and again returned to the
platform. McCarver remarked to Harris, "That fellow must be trying to
beat his fare." Harris, without looking back, replied, "Oh, I guess
not; he's all right," and resumed his conversation with McCarver.
McCarver then took a seat across the aisle, facing the rear. As the
whistle blew for Rock Spring, Dooley hurriedly entered the coach,
approaching Harris from the rear, who at the time was engaged in
counting his money, stepped within about ten feet of him, took
deliberate aim and shot Harris immediately behind the left ear, then
rushed up to him, placed the pistol against his head and fired twice,
burning a considerable amount of Harris' hair off and blackening his
face and neck with powder.
Conductor Belknap, Brakeman McGeorge and Baggageman McGeorge, hearing
the report of the gun, hurriedly entered the coach, Belknap in the
lead. The conductor said, "Great God, man, what have you done?" Dooley
leveled his pistol on the conductor and said, "Mr. Belknap, don't come
too close, or I shall have to kill you." When Belknap stopped, Dooley
pointed his gun towards Harris and said, "That --- --- --- --- killed
my father, and ---- ----- I've got him." Dooley then backed out of the
coach, gun in hand, jumped off on the east side just before the train
stopped at Rock Spring, crossed the track hurriedly and went west
through the woods. He was afterwards seen by Fred Scheck in
Hamiltontown, about a mile from Doe Run.
The verdict of the Coroner's jury was to the effect that Bill Harris
came to his death from pistol shots at the hands of Bill Dooley. On the
filing of the testimony with Squire Tucker, as provided by statute, he
issued a warrant for the arrest of Bill Dooley, which was placed in the
hands of the Sheriff. No attempt has yet been made to arrest Dooley. He
was seen at his home last Sunday afternoon.
Bill Dooley is reputed to be an expert marksman with a pistol and
Winchester. It is said that on horseback he can ride at a gallop and
place within a circle the size of a silver dollar five shots out of
five with a pistol, and that he can throw up a baseball bat and shoot a
hole through it with a Winchester.
There are several stories as to the origin of this deadly feud between
the Dooley and Harris families, which were published at the time of
their fatal encounter at a picnic at Doe Run on the 4th of August,
1900. In that desperate battle W. H. Dooley, the father, and Wes Harris
were killed; John Dooley was shot in the back and other parts of the
body, from the effects of which he died about a year afterwards; Frank
and Jim Harris were badly wounded, but recovered. Bill Harris, the one
who was killed by Bill Dooley last week, was not in the battle at the
picnic when it began; he rode up to the grounds just as the shooting
was about over and was attacked by the Dooleys, but succeeded in making
As a part of the history of the feud it is alleged that a year or more
before the tragic encounter at the Doe Run picnic the elder Dooley
heard someone in his corn crib, got his Winchester and fired at the
man, who ran away. Henry Harris, the father of the Harris boys, died
shortly after this occurrence, and it is alleged that the elder Dooley
recognized the elder Harris as the man he saw and shot at in his corn
Bill Dooley, who did the shooting last week, is under bond for $3,000
for his appearance for trial in August on charges connected with the
Doe Run 1900 affair.
FARMINGTON TIMES, Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri, Thursday,
July 17, 1902
"JACK" BOWMAN VETERAN ENGINEER RETIRED SAT. P.M.
Above photo contributed by Joseph Wilkson.
John W. Bowman Completed 42 Years and 8 Months Service With
M.R. & B.T. - M.I.R. Rs. With South End Local Run December
and Retired at Age of Seventy Years in Compliance with
Company's Pension Rules.
LOCOMOTIVE DECORATED FOR RUN
Previously Retired Veterans Truman Belknap and John F. Kehrman
Shared Honors in Brief Service at Bonne Terre Shops
Saturday Afternoon Conducted by Fellow Employees and
Attended by Large Number of Railroaders and Friends.
17, 1932, as the hands of the depot clock pointed toward the hour of
3:30 p.m., the echo of a whistled warning sounded by the northbound
passenger train to motorists who might be approaching the highway
crossing at the north end of the Bonne Terre yards had scarcely died
among the surrounding hills when engine No. 102, rolling with a grace
and ease which seemed all out of proportion to her ponderous bulk,
glided slowly down the long, sharp hill from the junction and came to a
smooth and noiseless stop in front of the Bonne Terre station with the
The big locomotive, decorated
with bunting and carrying small United States flags for markers, bore a
large sign on her pilot and two smaller ones beneath her cab windows,
which announced to all who might care to read that Engineer John W.
Bowman was completing his last run, and that the service record to
which he would write the final chapter when he signed the register that
day covered a period of more than forty-two years.
The great engine, the even
throb of her injectors coming like the regular breathing of a living
creature, seemed to almost sense the importance of the occasion, and
obeyed the touch of her master's hand with a docility and quietness
which seemed almost uncanny. The station work completed, the
train slipped slowly down into the yards, stopped, and the locomotive
glided softly away to be backed into place in front of the round house.
In overalls and jumper, the
engineer climbed down from his cab and shook the hands of a number of
friends who had gathered at this spot to await his coming.
Then, accompanied by Hans Schantl, Master of Tracks and Trains, he
walked into the car shops nearby, where a number of his fellow workers
and friends of long standing had gathered to do him honor.
Erect and strong, his figure gave little sign of three score and ten
summers which have come and gone over his broad shoulders, and while
the official register of time showed that he was seventy years old, and
had, therefore, reached that milepost in railroad life which meant
automatic retirement from active service, his steady step and strong
physique belied the truth of this fact.
The ceremonies in the car shop
were brief and to the point. George M. Spain, a veteran of
many years service at Bonne Terre, acted as master of ceremonies, and
paid a brief tribute to Engineer Bowman, to conductor Truman Belknap,
who had been retired January 10, 1927, following a continuous service
as trainman and conductor since October 18, 1886, and to J. F. Kehrman,
who was retired three years ago following thirty nine years of service
as Master Mechanic, the latter two sharing the ceremonies of Saturday
with "Pop" Bowman.
L-R: Truman Belknap, John Kehrman, "Pop" Bowman
In keeping with the spirit of
the occasion, Mr. Spain called only upon veterans of the service, and
first of these was M. E. Cloud. Mr. Cloud spoke briefly,
telling those present of the many hardships which were everyday
occurrences in railroading in the early days of service for those
retired veterans, among them being such handicaps as no airbrake and
similar improvements which came in later years. John
Manwarring was called next in line, and told of getting his first job
on the M.R. & B.T. in 1906 from "Pop" Bowman, who was acting as
Master Mechanic at the time during the absence of Mr. Kehrman, and of
firing for him for seven years, during which time he found a true
friendship which showed itself in many ways, and which has continued to
today. J. F. Kehrman was next to speak, and this venerable
veteran paid tribute to the integrity and ability of his comrades in a
The above photo was contributed by Marvin Ringer who advises that John
(who family called "PopBow") is on the right in clean coveralls holding
Marvin believes that the man on left is "Sock" Neal, a fireman who
fired for him
after he took a demotion to avoid moving to St.
Mr. Shantl then took the
floor, acting for Superintendent C. F. Dougherty of Poplar Bluff, who
had intended to be present in person, who had been unexpectedly called
home from Ste. Genevieve because of the serious illness of two of his
children. Mr. Schantl, in a short talk, expressed pleasure at
the opportunity he had to serve in a capacity which permitted him to do
honor to the three veterans, and paid them high tribute for the
splendid records which they had placed in the annals of the railroad
during their service with it. He explained the reason for Mr.
Dougherty's absence, and read the following letter to Engineer Bowman
from that official:
"Poplar Bluff, Mo.,
December 16, 1932
My Dear Mr. Bowman:
On this occasion of your
retirement from active service of the Missouri Illinois Railroad, I
desire to express to you on behalf of the Management and the
undersigned personally our regret but also congratulate you on the
service you have rendered, and more particularly the spirit of
co-operation and esprit de corps you have always displayed.
We are confident that you have
a number of years of usefulness still ahead of you and want you to feel
that you are still a member of the railroad family, and if at any time
we can be of service to you, either officially or personally, desire
that you feel free to call upon us.
With best personal regards and
good wishes, I am
C. F. Dougherty, Superintendent."
Following delivery of the
foregoing letter to Engineer Bowman, Mr. Shantl surrendered the floor
and Mr. Spain called upon Bart Wilkson, veteran conductor, who spoke in
simple praise of the veterans who were being honored and wished them
Mr. Spain, acting for fellow
employees of the Missouri-Illinois, then presented Mr. Belknap with an
overcoat, and Mr. Bowman with a beautiful hand carved B. of I. E.
ring. Mr. Kehrman had been presented with a wrist watch on
the occasion of his retirement three years ago.
The last feature of
the program was the presentation of beautiful bouquets to Mr[s].
Kehrman, and to Mesdames Bowman and Belknap, the presentation being
made by little Beatrice Frazier, on behalf of the ladies of the local
All three of the veterans
responded briefly, thanking their friends and fellow employees for the
honor shown them.
And thus is recorded
the final chapter in the service record of "Daddy," or "Pop"
Bowman. The record of this short meeting is easily given but
who, we ask you, might assume to put into words the history of fifty
years of service on the rails?
Half a century in a locomotive
cab is a long time, but the record is there, for in addition to the
forty-two years and eight months with the M. R. & B. T. -
Missouri-Illinois, there is eight years with the C. B. &
Q. For some seven years he wielded the shovel intelligently
and efficiently, and finally passed his examination and was promoted to
the right side of the cab as an engineer. The toil and sweat
of those years cannot be described. Railroading was hard in
those early days, and engines were tiny, almost puny, as compared to
our modern giants of the rail. But freight and passengers
were plentiful, for concrete highways and automobiles were unknown, and
everything which moved, either freight or passenger, moved by
train. As a consequence the loads were heavy, and so were
many of the grades, and it required real backbone, brawn, and
intelligent application of both, to keep a toiling engine "hot and
hopping" as she labored along with more tonnage than her rating called
Young John Bowman had
backbone, plenty of brawn, and his intelligence was above the
average. He mastered his trade thoroughly, and then mastered
the mechanics of the iron horse, he was kept busy feeding countless
tons of coal. His beginning as an engineer was auspicious,
and he might be retiring now from the service of the great Burlington
System instead of the Missouri-Illinois but for the big "Q" strike
which came in the latter part of the eighties. Faithful to
his fellow workers, he went out with them. When the
strike was settled in February, 1888, he elected to try his luck in
other localities rather than resume his duties on the old
run. The lure of Texas was in the air, and with a friend and
companion, he made his way to the Lone Star State. At Temple,
he applied for work at the terminal of the Gulf, Colorado &
Santa Fe, and found that while there was no employment available at
that moment in the mechanical department, he could procure a job in the
train service. He signed up as a brakeman, and begun his
brief few months of service in that department the following day when
he went out on a work train on what was then known as the "Alligator
Division", this particular stretch of track being
so named because of the plentiful crop of huge alligators which basked
in the warm waters and on the muddy banks of the swamps which were the
most prominent part of the terrain in that part of Texas at that
time. For nearly a month he worked as a brakeman on this work
train as it made its way up and down the branch while colored section
hands loaded thousands upon thousands of ties upon an endless string of
flat cars, and then he came back to the main line. But train
service did not appeal to the young railroader, who had started his
railroad career on the engine, and whose whole being throbbed with
desire to again be back where he could feel the response of a
locomotive to this touch. He quit the trainman's job on the
Santa Fe and went back into engine service with the M. K. & T.,
but the lure of Texas had gone out of his blood and, after about a year
had elapsed from the time he left his native heath in Illinois, he quit
and returned to his home.
A short time at home developed
a new restlessness, and here the young railroader was facing a real
crisis in his life. To the uninitiated it may not be
understood, but to the old time railroader it is simple truth that at a
certain point in the young railroad man's career, be it in train
service or engine service, there comes the lure of travel to distant
places. In those days the satisfaction of this desire was a
simple matter, as jobs were plentiful on almost every important
railroad, and it was easy to drift from place to place and keep
busy. Thus was developed the old time "boomer" type of
railroader, so plentiful a few short years ago, but now practically
crowded out of the picture by the more steady stay-at-home type and the
laws of service seniority.
Meeting a friend with whom he
had formerly worked in St. Louis, young John Bowman and his companion
decided that they would make their way to Mexico City, Mexico, and
there try their hands at railroading in foreign
fields. If they did not like it, they could easily make their
way back to the states. As a first step in their program of
working their way south, a railroading friend in St. Louis told them he
thought they might secure employment at Bonne Terre, as he had heard
the M. R. & B. T. was hiring some men.
To Bonne Terre they came and,
on the following day, Thomas Mead, Master Mechanic, told young Bowman
that he could give him a job firing in the Herculaneum yards if he
cared to have it. He wanted work to make a stake to help him
on his way to Mexico City, and any sort of a job was
acceptable. The M. R. & B. T. was narrow gauge at the
time, and he went to Herculaneum to take up his duties of spading
"black diamonds" into the little yard engine. The engineer,
who also happened to be an old acquaintance off the "Q", was stricken
with illness in a few days and laid off to go to his home in
Illinois. John Bowman was moved over to the right side of the
engine, and thus started his career as an engineer with the M. R.
& B. T., a career which was from that date onward continuous
Shortly after his employment
he was sent out from Bonne Terre on the work train which was carrying a
crew which tore up the old narrow gauge line to Summit, a line which
was abandoned when the road to Riverside was completed and
opened. Within a short time he was pulling trains on the main
line between Doe Run, Bonne Terre and Riverside, and early in the
nineties he was assigned to a passenger run. The accompanying
picture, showing narrow gauge engine 6 and her tiny coaches, was made
during the early days of his passenger engineering experience.
Riverside Railroad Station (circa 1893)
But, you say, you thought he was only
working for a stake to go to Mexico City. So he thought, but
fate and Dan Cupid decreed otherwise. He had only been in
Bonne Terre a short time when he met pretty and vivacious [Sarah
Adeline] Addie Wilkson, and from that time on Mexico City had as well
been moved to China. He promptly decided that Bonne Terre was
good enough for him, and 'ere many moons had slipped away their romance
brought them to the altar and to the opening days of a beautiful home
life which has grown richer and riper with the passing years, and which
has given Bonne Terre one of its happiest and most substantial homes.
But we must get back to
railroading. In those early days the junction with the
Missouri Pacific main line was where it is today - at
Riverside. You will note in the picture [above] the old
station at Riverside, with the diminutive train on the south leg of the
"Y" and the main line, which you may mark by the mail crane, on the
opposite side of the depot. Also note the photograph closely
and you will see that the railroad line itself has three
rails. The two inside rails were used by the narrow gauge
engines and cars, and the outer rail was set to standard
gauge. This triple rail system extended to Herculaneum from
Riverside, and the narrow gauge trains could couple into standard gauge
cars, pull them to Herky and there their contents were transferred to
narrow gauge equipment if consigned to points further down the M. R.
& B. T.
In those days there was not a
single house where Flat River, Rivermines, Desloge and Elvins are now
built up, and the narrow gauge trains ran from Doe Run Junction to
Bonne Terre without stopping. Business was
plentiful and the little narrow gauge road was kept busy. You
might look at the picture of the little 6 spot and think it was just a
toy, but "Pop" Bowman will tell you today that in spite of the fact
that her drive wheels were only 44 inches in diameter he made the run
from Bonne Terre to Riverside in fifty minutes on many occasions, and
that was respectable speed, and is a respectable speed yet today, when
you consider the many tortuous curves with which the main line of the
M. R. & B. T. is supplied.
But the days of the narrow
gauge were numbered even from the beginning, and 'ere many years had
passed the standard gauge line had been extended from Herculaneum to
Bonne Terre. Then "Pop" Bowman enjoyed a unique period of his
railroad experience. He handled the throttle and valves on
standard gauge engine 7 between Bonne Terre and Riverside and back,
then got off the broad gauge locomotive and onto narrow gauge 6 and
took the smaller train to Doe Run and back to Bonne Terre.
This dual service continued until the line was made standard from end
to end, when the little narrow gauge engine, No. 6, was sold to a large
company operating a sugar plantation in Cuba. They
tried to purchase the services of the engineer along with the machine,
but by this time "Pop" Bowman was "Pop" in reality, and had several
reasons for wanting to remain in Bonne Terre and make a home for his
The increasing traffic on the
line soon called for additions to the motive power family, and
locomotive 18 was among the acquisitions. The 18 was quite
some engine in her day, and was larger and more powerful than her
predecessors, but many of our local residents still remember her well
and her dimensions, when compared to modern locomotives, were small, to
say the least. In 1917 came the modern passenger locomotives
30 and 31, which marked the first step from the simple standard type
passenger locomotive to the more bulky and efficient compound
superheater type. For seven years "Pop" Bowman piloted the 31
on her daily trips to and from St. Louis before he gave up the
passenger service and went back to freight work in order that he might
have some time at home.
For more than 33 years he was
in passenger engine service and for fourteen of that time he was on the
through run to St. Louis and return from Doe Run, during which time the
only opportunity he had to spend a night in his home at Bonne Terre was
to lay off from his work. During that entire
fourteen years he ate all of his meals from his dinner buckets, his
faithful companion fixing his dinner in the morning and delivering it
to him on his engine as he passed through Bonne Terre northbound about
9:00 a.m., and supplying him with his supper and breakfast in another
bucket when he passed through on his southbound trip at 6:00 p.m.
Several years ago, when
changes in the passenger schedule were made which would have made it
necessary for him to move to St. Louis, to retain his run, he elected
to change to freight service, and since that time has been able to
enjoy his home, as his headquarters have been in Bonne Terre, and he
has been able to spend his nights there.
Hale, hearty and happy
engineer Bowman is seventy years old, even though he is much younger
physically than many men twenty years his junior and in spite of the
fact that he can read the paper today without glasses. There
is many a mile of good,sound, efficient engine driving in his sturdy
body yet, but the rules must be lived up to, and he must
retire. Is he worried about it? Not by a
jugful. He doesn't think much of the idea of not having
anything in particular to do, but "Mother" Bowman says she can arrange
that part of it, and anyhow, she says, he was away from home so many
years that he will have to do a lot of staying around the house to make
We would like to go more
completely into detail of the many experiences which were naturally
crowded into his busy and eventful life, but truly to record them would
require a book. There were thousands of incidents worth
telling, from the old days of hand brakes and open range, with no
right-of-way fences, when cattle roamed the tracks, at will, and when,
as "Mother" Bowman laughingly tells, Jack killed a cow a day for thirty
days between Bonne Terre and Doe Run and got an enforced layoff which
enabled him to take her to their first party, on down to the day not
many years ago when he found himself and train 826 on the main line
between Riverside and St. Louis with the Sunshine Special too close for
comfort and going in the same direction. Then it was that
engine 31 showed the stuff she was made of and reeled off mile after
mile at better than seventy miles per hour with the result that the
crack Sunshine was kept safely in the clear and there were no delays
for anyone to explain. And many notables were hauled in the
coaches behind him, including Harry Payne Whitney, versatile sportsman
and man of wealth, who, on his first trip into this territory, was
hauled from Riverside to Federal by "Pop" Bowman. Nor far
from Herculaneum the porter climbed over the tender and handed the
engineer two ten dollar bills, announcing that one was for him and one
for the fireman, with Mr. Whitney's compliments. They
protested that it was against the rules to accept tips, but the porter
said to forget it and they did. That, says "Pop", was the
first buffalo ten dollar bill he ever saw. Other prominent
travelers who rode behind him, many of them in the old private car
"Siesta", which was first narrow gauge and then converted to standard,
and in the more pretentious "Linares" which came later, included Leslie
M. Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, several
members of the Guggenheims, the Parsons family and the present day
president of the St. Joseph Lead Company and former president of the M.
R. & B. T., Clinton H. Crane. There were many others
but to mention them all would be impossible.
We would like to tell you
more. There is much more to be told, but "Daddy" Bowman is no
hand to talk overly much and the rich fountain of experiences which
lies in his active memory flows slowly. Not that he is averse
to talking, for nothing is further from his generous nature and his
heart is as big as his body, but it just naturally takes time to tell
even a small part of the experiences which come with fifty years in a
locomotive, a half century of service which covered approximately two
million miles of rail travel and a multitude of happenings from the day
of the brake stick and the coupling pin down to modern air brakes and
You will see engine 102 at her
daily task of hustling freight cars up and down the line almost any
day. Just a great, big ponderous freight locomotive
whose every line exemplifies strength and power, but she will be driven
by other hands than those of "Pop" Bowman from now on, and every time
the writer looked at her giant bulk he will recall the happenings of
the afternoon of December 18, 1932, when this great machine seemed to
be alive and breathing as it helped write the final chapter in the
railroad career of a man he has known and loved for many
years. You will hear the siren song of 31's whistle on
frequent occasions, loosened by other hands, but to him who records
this story, each time that sound comes to his ears it will carry to him
a message from a tried and true friend.
We congratulate you, "Pop"
Bowman, from the depths of our hearts. Our fathers and mothers, our
sisters and brothers, our wives and sweethearts, our children, have all
ridden many miles in safety behind your steady and competent engine
driving, and the countless trips you have made to and from our busy
communities have each one added to the constructive influences which
have built those communities into what they are today. You
have done a fine work and have done it in a big, fine way, and it is a
pleasure to every one of us to see you reap this opportunity to enjoy a
long period of leisure and happiness with that splendid wife and family
who have shared your many years of constant duty.
NOTE: John W. Bowman died February 21, 1937, and is buried in
Bonne Terre Cemetery.
THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Friday, December 23, 1932