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The Ozark Southern Railway, 1910 - 1935

A Missouri Short Line that ran from Ava to Mansfield.

Note: This page is a work in progress.  It will be updated as more information becomes available.

If you take the short drive from Mansfield, Missouri south on Highway 5 to Ava, you would never guess that a short line railroad was once in operation between the two towns.  The 15 mile long railroad, with the optimistic name of the Kansas City, Ozarks and Southern Railroad provided rail service from Ava to a connection to the Frisco in Mansfield from 1910 to 1935.  The railroad apparently had its start in a cooperative effort between the Fullerton-Moses Tie Company of Ava and another promoter who built the railroad*.  The railroad was operating by February of 1910 over 15 miles of track between the two towns . 

The following pictures show the new railroad in action.

They are courtesy of the Missouri State Archives, and are used here with their permission:

KC,O&S First Passenger Train, Ava, MO 2-25-1910

This picture shows the first passenger train at the new Ava, Missouri Depot.

Although the picture has a date of February 25, 1901, this is would have been in 1910.

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Excursion Train on the KC,O&S, March 1910

The writing on this picture indicates that this was the first excursion train on the KC,O&S RY.

The date is March, 13, 1910.

The first locomotive used was a Heisler logging locomotive,  apparently bought secondhand from the extensive logging operation at Grandin, Missouri.  In 1922, the railroad bought a Shay geared logging locomotive.  Information on it can be found at: http://www.shaylocomotives.com/data/lima/sn-985.htm

Kenneth Brown has added his excellent articles on the OS (see the acknowledgements below) on his website.  The information on the OS is in .pdf format at: http://www.ozark-uncle.com/Documents-History/2005-Railroad.pdf and you can see all of his historical articles at: http://www.ozark-uncle.com/HistWritings.html

Another Ozark Southern history page with a couple of photos of the Heisler can be found at: http://www.watersheds.org/history/railroads.htm

In addition to the steamers, the railroad also had (at different times) at least 4 different internal combustion doodlebugs, or rail busses.  Two of them were nicknamed the "Yellowjacket" and the "Bluebird".  The railroad also had a railtruck that was aquired in 1923.

An interesting article concerning the "Bluebird" can be read in the following link to "The Message Tree".  It has a couple of good pictures, one of the "Bluebird", the other of an Ozark Southern train at the OS Mansfield Depot using a Frisco 0-6-0: http://themessagetree.com/oct_nov2002/bluebirdoctnov2002.shtml

I believe that the name of the railroad was changed from the Kansas City, Ozarks & Southern to just the Ozark Southern when the railroad went to local ownership in 1922.

Unfortunately, like many small railroads, it went out of business in 1935, presumably the victim of the automobile and the Great Depression.

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*Acknowledgements:

Many Thanks to Kenneth Brown and Roger Taylor, two fellow Ozark Southern enthusiasts who have been kind enough to share information with me.

Much of the information in this article came from the Summer 2005 issue of the Journal of the Douglas County Historical and Genealogical Society.  The following articles are from that issue:

"Is it the Yellow Jacket?" by Kenneth Brown, P. 20

"Here Comes the Bluebird!" by J.D. Ross, P. 21

"Fullerton-Moses Tie Co. - 1906-08" by Phil Moses / Lionel Bel Moses, P. 36

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Thanks to the Missouri State Archives for the use of the above pictures.

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