Railroads are an important part of the history of our area. Almost everyone knows that after building around the hills and contending with the Meramec River, Eureka was given its name—meaning "I have Found It,"—when the builders found the wide open areas at the east end of the Eureka-Pacific expansion.
When we had local train service, cans of milk and other farm produce were shipped to St. Louis and other points as each town had its own station. Much of the early development was fostered through the use of the railroads.
We had a grain elevator in Eureka that became the Missouri Farm Bureau Feed Mill when I was a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau Board. That mill brought at least two employees here, and they became stanch supporters of the area, namely Paul Cope and Harold McFarland.
In earlier days, the local passenger train enabled many influential people to ride to St. Louis and return each day. I was born in a great old rock house that was known as the Augustine Farm. Col. Augustine was the registrar of lands and through the political means of that time, won the right to construct the St. Louis Poor Farm—now the Six Flags area. He created so much controversy in that movement, it caused the separation of the City of St. Louis from St. Louis County as the powers that be in St. Louis thought the county folks were stealing the city blind.
He became a part of the history of Missouri when he and Joseph Pulitzer got into a fight in the Capitol building in Jefferson City, which ended with Pulitzer shooting Col. Augustine. It was said that Col. Augustine would wait until he heard the train whistle blow for the Allenton stop, and he would get on-board his surrey so that his great highstepping team could get to the Eureka stop in time for the east bound train.
The Crescent area had its share of important people like the former owner of the Stuart Castle site, who was head of Brown Shoe Company, who also used rail transportation.
Once, when I was quite young, I went with my parents to visit the John Claffey farm, where Sacred Heart is now located. After dark, a huge steam engine pulling a freight train heading west came through with blazing headlights and a huge load coming up the rise in that area when it lost traction. The sound of wheels spinning and the noise nearby scared me to death almost.
We did have several train wrecks both in Eureka and Pacific. We also had several deaths of well known people killed in crossings at various spots.
As my daughter and I were getting my exhibits ready for my memorial celebration, I set aside one memory. I bought the last ticket for the local train from Eureka to Pacific. I took our kids on the train and my wife, Roberta, drove our car along the tracks to the Pacific station. It was fun waving to her as we moved west together.
Today millions of tons of coal moving to coal-burning plants make up mile-long trains. We used to have long lines of petroleum cars, and that is picking up traffic again. Tons of pipeline supplies were brought in to build the Phillips Pipeline which is still in use.
One of the old west memories of the area involved the Emil Wallach farming operation when they drove huge herds of cattle from the Eureka Farm to the Dozier Farm, or back the other way, on the road between the tracks. Circuses moved through by train also, and military vehicles by the trainload came through, too.
Probably the Good Old Train Days will never be again, but we remember.