Beaver to Keyes

The Beaver, Meade and Englewood Railroad

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The abandoned right-of-way of the Beaver Road can be seen in Keyes, OK, shortly after it branches from the AT&SF (now BNSF) line. View is looking east. Photo by Dr. James H. Olsen, Jr., PE, January 2011.

Shortly before World War I, the small town of Beaver, in the panhandle of Oklahoma, was facing a crisis. Both the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific had passed it by, and Beaver sat idly by and watched nearby towns served by these two railroads flourish and prosper. Not intent on becoming a ghost town as has happened to countless other communities befallen of the same predicament, the Beaver, Meade & Englewood Railroad was created in order to save the town of Beaver. Not only would it connect to the Wichita Falls & Northwestern Railroad (an MKT subsidiary) at Forgan to the north, but, more importantly, plans called for the BM&E to reach as far as a connection with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad at Englewood, KS, or perhaps even the CRI&P at Meade, KS. For either of these connections would have forged a direct link for Beaver with the commerce to/from Chicago.

The first step along "The Beaver Road" was simple: connect to the WF&NW line at Forgan, seven miles to the north. Construction started in 1912, and this first section was completed in 1915. Despite initial surveys beyond Forgan, however, the railroad never made it to Englewood or Meade, but rather ended up extending westward to a connection with the CRI&P at Hooker, OK in 1925. The B&ME ultimately made it as far west as Keyes (and a connection with the AT&SF) in 1931.

About this time, a legal battle was ensuing between the MKT and the CRI&P: they both wanted to purchase the B&ME due to its alignment through what was considered vast areas of lucrative agricultural production. MKT finally won out over the CRI&P, and absorbed the B&ME under its Northwestern District in 1931.

The MKT, struggling financially, did not maintain the tracks of the B&ME, being a seasonal line with intermittent and inconsistent profits. Due to the poor quality of the trackage and the high cost of maintaining it, the MKT decided to abandon the B&ME in its entirety, and did so on August 30, 1972.

The small town of Beaver still exists to this day, not having been served by a railroad in 40 years.

A rough timeline of the Beaver Road:

        Keyes        Hooker        Forgan        Beaver
========================================================
1915 |                                |--- Built ---|
1925 |                  |--- Built ---|
1931 |    |--- Built ---|
1931 |    |------- Missouri-Kansas-Texas RR --------|
1972 |    |------------ abandoned ------------------|

The former Katy and Santa Fe connection at Keys is not BNSF it is Cimarron Valley re who still owns the switch to the Katy the track between hey 56 and the main line is still there unused.

Zach
Abilene, KS
6/14/2012

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In the second picture of the derailment above, the small boy on the right is my brother-in-law now and his father was one of the section foremen on this line. He was stationed at Hooker, Oklahoma, I think.

Cindy Reardon
Oklahoma
11/3/2012

[Thanks for the derailment pictures, Cindy!  —Greg Harrison]

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Thank you so much for posting this information. I stumbled upon it while conducting genealogy research on my wife's great grandfather who worked on the line. I may have some photographs of interest. I believe they were taken in around 1940.

Don Williams
Indianapolis, IN
2/19/2016

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