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Richards R-V Student Stories: The Railroad

Student Stories: The Railroad

After making a West Plains History Book, the students were involved in writing their own stories about "When the Railroad Came to West Plains." Some wrote about traveling to new places, others wrote about the construction of the railroad through West Plains, while others wrote about a "mysterious" train accident that almost occurred in the Brandsville area.


Stranger on the Tracks
Written by Zack

Late one night as we were heading toward Springfield, Missouri, from Memphis, Tennessee, our train met a stranger on the tracks. I woke up to get a drink just as we passed through Brandsville, Missouri. The train at that moment came to a halt. I asked "Wash" Hawkins what he saw.

He said, "A person with a lantern was yelling ‘Fire!' in the middle of the tracks."

Sure enough there was a fire on the bridge going to West Plains. There was a man yelling "Fire!" on the tracks. We woke up all the passengers to help put out the fire on the bridge. There was a pond nearby. So we used the water from the pond to put out the fire. Luckily, the bridge wasn't burned down all the way. We braced up the bridge. The conductor yelled, "All aboard!"

We could not find the stranger that saved our lives, and nobody saw him when they first got off. Who ever he was, thanks to him, we were saved! I asked "Wash" Hawkins, "Who was that farmer?"

He said, "I thought he was an angel!"

There was a possibility he was a farmer because of the house, the barn, and the pond right beside the tracks, but I still think he was an angel.

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Stranger on the Tracks
Written by Nathan

Late one night our train met a stranger on the tracks. It all started when I got a ticket from Memphis, Tennessee, to Springfield, Missouri. My friends and I were down at the depot waiting for the train to arrive. When the train got there it was busy. One of my friends asked if it would take a year to go to Springfield and back. I told him I would be back in 1893. That's the year when I took the big trip to Springfield.

I boarded the train, and I handed the conductor the $4.15 ticket. Then I recognized the conductor, and the conductor recognized me. The conductor, Hank Murdock, said, "Nathan, it sure is good to see you again!"

"You too, Hank!" I said.

Then we started our trip. We saw lots of wildlife, trees, and plants. Later that evening, we had a good meal after we passed through Brandsville, Missouri. When I got up to get a drink I heard, "Fire! Fire!"

I went to the head of the train and asked the fireman, "What's going on?"

The fireman told me there was a fire ahead of us, and it was on the bridge. Suddenly, I saw a man holding a lantern who was yelling, "Fire!"

I asked the engineer and the fireman if I could help out, and they said I could. Since I had the glass of water still in my hand, I threw the water on the fire in the engine that the fireman was trying to put out to stop the train.

Once we got the train stopped, the front of the engine was at the edge of the bridge, but at least we didn't get stuck in the middle of the bridge. Then the fireman, engineer and I went to wake the passengers. First we went through the traveling car, then the dining car, and finally through the sleeping car.

Once we got everybody up, one of the passengers asked what all of us would use to put out the fire. The fireman and engineer told us to use wet rags, dirt, and water. I can't believe it took us five minutes to put out that fire. It felt like ten hours. When we got done with the fire and turned around to thank the person, he was gone!

I found Hank, and then we went to get the engineer and the fireman. All of us discussed how the trip was going so far, about me helping the engineer out, and the fireman stopping the train. They promised that they would tell the Bolin brothers, Judge B.F. Olden, and O. H. P. Catron what I had done. Later, all of us used wood underneath the rails to hold up the bridge.

A few hours later when! the train arrived in West Plains, the engineer and the fireman kept their promises. There I was in front of the old courthouse with Judge B.F. Olden, the Bolin brothers, and O. H. P. Catron. I was honored with a medal.

Afterwards, I went to the depot to write a telegraph to my friends in Springfield. I told them the whole story and that the train wasn't going to Springfield yet. I asked them if they would come down here. When my friends got here I decided West Plains wasn't a bad place so I stayed for five more days. When my five days were up, I had to get back on the train. The West Plains depot was just as busy as the Memphis depot. A few hours later the train crossed the same bridge on the trip back to Memphis. That's one night I'll never forget!

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My Trip
Written by Brooke

It's May 21, 1893. My sisters, Emma, Lizzie, and I, "Moica McConner" are going to go to West Plains, Missouri. We live in Memphis, Tennessee. Our Grandpa McConner owns a newspaper company. My sisters and I are reporters.

It's 12:00 in the afternoon and time for our train. We paid our money for the trip, a total of $37.35 ($12.45 per person). We're headed northwest now.

Six hours later......
We're eating supper in the dining car now. My sisters and I are sitting across from Washington Hawkins (Uncle "Wash's" grandson). In the next booth are the Bolin brothers' niece.

We're now changing into our pajamas. It's as quiet as a mouse in the sleeping car at midnight. We're just about through Brandsville, Missouri. I was getting a drink of water when suddenly I heard, "Fire! Fire!" What is going on? I looked outside to see a man yelling, "Fire! Fire!" He was standing by the tracks. Boy! Was he right! Fire was everywhere!

I woke up everyone in the sleeper to help the fireman and engineer put out the fire. At about 12:45 A.M. the fire was out. We were going to thank the stranger, but HE WAS GONE! I think he was an angel!

It's 5:00 in the morning. We have reached West Plains, Missouri. Later we're going to start for Seattle, Washington. We got a West Plains Quill. There was an ad for a big dance at the Catron Building, the opera house. It was going to start at 7:00 P.M. My sisters and I got on our best dresses and went. It was the coolest place! There was a live band called "The Grassy Mountain Boys." There was lots and lots of food. There were many songs. Two of my favorite songs were "Beautiful Life" and "Boat of Love." I met some people named the Dixons. They were really nice. I danced with a boy called Donny Crombie.

After the party was over at 9:00 P.M., we went home, changed into our nightgowns and went to sleep.

Beep.....Beep.....Beep! My alarm went off at 7:00 A.M. We ate eggs, bacon, sausage patties, oatmeal, toast, and blueberry pancakes. Afterwards we got dressed and went to the station. Here's our train. "Choooooo, chooooooo!" We paid $184.50 ($61.50 per person) for round trip tickets, meals included. We packed our luggage in the! train. Here goes.....

It will take two days and four hours to get to Seattle, Washington. Right now my sisters and I are in the passenger car playing cards. We ate our lunch next and took a nap. Then when we woke up we were in Casper, Wyoming.

"Mail! Mail!"

"What's going on?" asked Lizzie.

"I guess we have mail." said Emma.

"Telegram for....uhhhhh..... the McConner girls."

"That's us," I said.

"Here you go."

"Thanks," said Lizzie.

We huddled around the telegram. It was from Grandpa. It said, "Hope you're having fun, girls. I got a surprise for you when you get home. I'll be at the station when you get off your train. Lizzie, you know that gelding you're crazy about? Pirate is his name. I bought him. That's how I'll be picking you up in the wagon. Your grandpa, Cornelius McConner P.S. Love ya and see ya in a few days."

"That was really nice of him!"

"Yeah, he's so nice!"

"We'd better get to bed."


We put on our night gowns and went to bed. The! next day we wrote stories. Mine was about a famous person. Lizzie's was about a horse. Emma's was about Indian artifacts. We ate lunch, took a nap, ate supper, and then went to bed.

The next morning we got around, finished our stories, and ate lunch. Then the train stopped. "Time to get off. Hello, Seattle!"We planned to stay for a day. We went shopping, ate lunch, and shopped some more.

It's 5:00 P.M. Here's our train headed toward West Plains again. "Yee ha!" Right now we're playing with each others hair. Emma is playing with Lizzie's. Lizzie is playing with mine. I'm playing with Emma's. We're sitting in a circle. Suppertime! I ate a chicken leg, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy. Lizzie ate chicken casserole. Emma is eating shrimp. We went back to the sleeper and changed into our night gowns.

Toot! Toot! Time to get up. The diner was packed! I ate a sausage patty and pancakes.....blueberry pancakes... Mmmm mmmmm! By lunchtime tomorrow we should get! to West Plains. We saw Allen Langston get on the train.

When we got to Mansfield, Missouri, we took in some fresh air. We bought souvenirs too. I bought a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. I got to meet Laura in person! I also bought a cedar chest. Emma bought a pack of homemade pencils and paper. Lizzie bought two carved horses. They were hand painted too. We had so much fun looking at our new souvenirs that we didn't notice what time it was. "Hello, West Plains!"

We ate lunch. "Chooo chooo!"

"All aboard!"

Is that our train already? Oh well, we got on our train once again.

"We're finally headed home," said Lizzie.

"I can't wait!"

"Me neither!"

"I'm tired."

"Me too!"

"Me three!"

"Let's take a nap."


When we woke up we were nearly home. The bridge at Brandsville, Missouri, had been repaired. An hour later we arrived. Sure enough, Grandpa was there. When we got home, he showed us the surprise. Can you guess what it was? A colt! We named him "Seattle!"

To get to Seattle and back, it cost us $221.85.