The line on which the the tourist operation, the Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad runs has a long history, stretching back to 1884 when the Kansas City, Clinton & Springfield Railroad Co., affectionately known as the "Leaky Roof", was built to provide a direct route from Kansas City to Springfield, MO. The nickname came from the old and somewhat run down freight cars the KCC&S used.
In 1891, the Kansas City, Osceola & Southern Railroad , also known as "The Blair Line", was started and constructed the second line to run through Belton. It was named for John Blair, a New Jersey investor who was behind forming the KCO&S. When the Saint Louis-San Francisco Railway took over the KCO&S in 1901, they referred to it as the "High Line" because of its route through the Osage Mountains.
By 1935, the KC&S had been abandoned, but the old “High Line”, now the Frisco’s Osceola Subdivision, survived in decreasing increments into ownership by the Burlington Northern who finally sold off the remnants in 1986. The Belton Grandview & Kansas City now runs on a short remnant of the KCO&S.
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What would become the Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad started out as the Kansas City Railroad Museum founded in 1964. It was originally located at the Trough-Nichols siding in Lenaxa, MO. Operated by the Smoky Hill Railway and Historical Society, the museum was forced to move a number of times before arriving at Belton in 1995. They later changed their name to the Belton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad.
There is not a lot to see at the Belton depot, other than the locomotives and rolling stock stored in the yard.
During WWI the Russian government ordered a large number of lightweight Decapod type (2-10-0) locomotives from various American manufacturers. In 1917, after eight hundred and fifty-seven had been delivered, the Russian Revolution forced cancellation of the remainder of the order, leaving two hundred of the Decapods “orphaned” in the US.They were turned over to the United States Railroad Administration, which allocated them to various railroads, mainly in the East and South.
Built in 1918 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA, as USRA #1199, this locomotive was sold to the Southern, where it was renumbered #8033.
The resulting tractive effort of 42,180 lbs was still enough for most of the light rail freight hauling usually performed by this class. The Frisco also installed a single thermic syphon, which improved boiler circulation and added to the heating
The class survived intact until the end of steam
on the Frisco, and appear to have done more
than branch line service, probably also serving
on "High Line" passenger service, as well as
extra passenger trains carrying veterans'
Two years later, #8033 was sold to the Frisco as part of a batch of twenty, which were renumbered #1613-#1632.
Conversion for use in the US was primarily a matter of adding a new tender, new lead truck wheels, and wide tires for the 52” drivers to reduce the gauge from 5' 0" to 4'-8½". Built with 25” x 28” cylinders and an operating pressure of 180 psi, several of the class, including #1632, had their cylinder diameters reduced (probably through bushings) to 24" and the boiler pressure dropped to 160 psi.
In 1951, #1632 was one of five Decapods sold by the Frisco to the Eagle-Picher Company (#1615, #1621, #1625, #1630 & #1632). They served at the company's southeastern Oklahoma zinc mines until 1957 when they were retired.
All five of the Eagle-Picher decapods have survived. #1615 is on display in Altus, OK. #1630 still steams at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL.You can see #1621 on the St Louis Museum of Transportation Yard page of this website and #1625 on the Museum of the American Railroad page.
The Smoky Hill Railway & Historical Society received #1632 in 1965 as a donation from Eagle-Picher. It was stored serviceable in their shops but was later moved to the depot museum in Franklin County, KS, for static display.
Around 1995, the volunteers and members of the railroad worked with the Santa Fe Railroad, the Iola, KS, National Guard and Kansas City Southern Railway to load and move the locomotive to Belton where it currently resides. In October 2000, members carried out a basic cosmetic restoration of the locomotive.
Built in 1923 by Alco at its Schenectady, NY,
works as “stock” but apparently at one time destined for the Cuban railroad system, like #1632, it was never shipped. Ten years later, this oil burner was sold to the Okmulgee Northern Railway Co., as #5 aka "Tommy" and worked until 1958 in the oil fields around Okmulgee, OK, on a 9.9 mile shortline.
The ON also had two other locomotives on its roster, another Consolidation (2-8-0) named “Charlie” built in 1933 by Alco and a 4-6-0 named “Sam” also built by Alco in 1915.
Weighing 141,000 lbs, 122,000 lbs on its 48” drivers, #5 has
19” x 16” cylinders. Operating at a boiler pressure of 180 psi, it delivered 29,900 lbs tractive effort.
#5 was sold to the Sonken-Galamba Corporation, a Kansas City, MO, scrap dealer in 1958, and was then bought by the Smoky Hill Railway &
Historical Society some time in the 1970s. It is awaiting cosmetic restoration but, with a price tag in excess of $500,000.00 to rebuild, not including track improvements and shop facilities, it is likely to remain on static display.
Built by EMD for the Chesapeake & Ohio as #6142 in 1956, this GP9 was traded, sold, stored and used by various railroads and subsidiaries.
In early 1978, the unit was transferred to the Chessie System as #0393. In September 1978, it transferred to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, then
operating as a subsidiary of the CSX, returning to #6142. In late 1987, the unit was officially retired from the B&O and was sold in January 1989 to the Huron and Eastern Railway where it was renumbered #102 and given the name "City of Bad Axe”.
In November 1993, #102 was sold to the Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad, but because of its poor condition went into storage until it was removed from the roster in the mid-late 1990s.
Sold to Western Rail Dismantlers in Spokane, WA, it was stored in Pocatello, ID, until bought by the Smoky Hill Railway & Historical Society in 1995 on a lease-to-own agreement. In October 1996, a group of investors known as "T-Rex, LLC" bought the lease and, in turn, leased the unit to Smoky Hill Railway & Historical Society at a substantially reduced monthly rate.