Quanah to Floydada

Traces of the Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway

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Text and Photos by JIM KING (used with permission)

Author's Note: The Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway was not part of my railroad vocabulary as I was growing up in central Texas. I later discovered that its story was brilliantly chronicled by Don L. Hofsommer in his book The Quanah Route published by Texas A&M University Press in 1991 (a work upon which I rely heavily for historical information in this article). Reading this book reminded me that the area served by the QA&P was part of a vast middle ground of north Texas, well off the beaten path between Fort Worth and Amarillo. The Quanah Route motivated me to visit unknown places with unusual names like Roaring Springs, Paducah and Floydada, places lightly traveled and visited only by those who intend to be there. I went there, searching for traces of the QA&P; this is the story of what I found.

The Quanah, Acme & Pacific

A few miles west of Quanah, the traffic flowing along the US 287 freeway crosses an overpass that bridges a creek and a couple of rail lines that are scarcely visible from the highway. Few drivers notice a non-descript industrial plant along the north side of the highway, and fewer still have even a vague idea of its purpose. Yet for much of this century, this site, Acme, Texas, was one of the largest plaster production areas in the U.S. For many years, a huge gypsum deposit was mined and converted to plaster and cement products which were shipped by rail nationwide. The Fort Worth and Denver City (FW&DC) Railroad ran conveniently nearby while additional connections became available to the north and east via the St. Louis San Francisco ("Frisco") Railway in Quanah. By 1900, two competing plaster operations were well established -- the Acme Plaster Company at Acme owned by Samuel Lazarus, and the Salina Cement Plaster Company a mile north at Agatite. The two plaster operations had different rail access; Lazarus' ownership included the tracks and switching locomotive on company property, while the Agatite operation was switched by the Acme Tap Railroad controlled by the FW&DC. Lazarus believed his business was constrained by the rates and service offered by the FW&DC so he conceived a plan to build his own railroad north to Oklahoma. Such was the genesis of the Acme, Red River and Northern Railway (ARR&N).

The formation of the ARR&N alarmed the FW&DC, particularly when they proposed to build east to Quanah to a connection with the new Frisco line from Oklahoma City. Instead, an agreement was negotiated to permit the ARR&N to serve both plaster operations, with trackage rights on the FW&DC from Acme to Quanah for connection with the Frisco. This arrangement worked for several years, but Lazarus never abandoned his vision of a larger railroad operation. In 1909, the ARR&N was re-chartered as the Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway and announced plans to expand west from Quanah toward the plains of Texas.

Map of the QA&P

The Quanah station at Paducah, TX

The year 1909 saw the QA&P complete 35 miles of construction from Acme to Paducah, which remained the end of the line for nearly three years as management contemplated possible extensions to the west through Motley County, where the terrain was much rougher. The Matador Land & Cattle Co. ranch was the major landholder; the ranch offered a free right-of-way to the railroad, but to minimize operating and construction costs, the railroad preferred a route further south. Local citizens were understandably upset when the ranch and the railroad agreed to route the line several miles south of Matador through a new town of Roaring Springs to be jointly developed. Construction commenced in late 1912 and Roaring Springs was reached in the summer of 1913. Refusing to be bypassed, citizens formed their own shortline railroad built from Matador to a junction with the QA&P near Roaring Springs. The Motley County Railroad was a bare-bones line that struggled to maintain operations throughout its existence. In 1927, the QA&P acquired the Motley County Railroad, but it was abandoned in 1936.

World War I and the desire among several railroads to expand service into the south plains of Texas created legal and financial turmoil that kept the end of track just west of Roaring Springs for 14 years. Eventually, the ICC approved a plan to allow the QA&P to build to Floydada, an agricultural center on the Caprock Escarpment that was already the terminus of a Santa Fe branch line. Construction began in 1927 and the rails reached Floydada in the summer of 1928.

The Quanah station at Roaring Springs, TX

Santa Fe resisted the connection at Floydada from the beginning. They were willing to accept local traffic, but preferred to use the Frisco connection at Avard, OK for long haul traffic. When Santa Fe placed additional restrictions on traffic interchange at Floydada, the QA&P took their case to the ICC. Beginning in 1934, the QA&P lost a series of court cases and ICC rulings, but refused to admit defeat. Each negative ICC ruling was met with a motion for rehearing and reconsideration. Eventually, the financial details produced by Santa Fe in response to ICC questions began to support the QA&P's case and in 1938, the ICC ruled in their favor. By 1939, the Floydada gateway was wide open to transcontinental traffic.

The QA&P's westward expansion ended at Floydada, but this was not the end of construction. In 1928, the two plants at Acme came under common ownership and it became necessary to move cars between them. This precipitated a disagreement over switching fees among the plaster company, the QA&P and the FW&D (which had resumed switching duties at Agatite through the Acme Tap Railroad in 1914). Negotiations failed to resolve the issue so the QA&P proceeded to construct a parallel line from Acme to Quanah, surrendering trackage rights on the FW&D. Near Quanah, the new line curved away from the FW&D to the north and then back due east to a junction with the Frisco interchange yard north of town. This is the only track originally built by the QA&P that has survived.

Opening the Floydada gateway had been a life or death struggle for the QA&P; management knew the railroad could not survive on local traffic alone. This dependency on overhead traffic doomed the QA&P when operational efficiencies motivated Frisco and Santa Fe to close the gateway in 1973. The Paducah - Floydada section was abandoned in 1979, followed by the Acme - Paducah line a few years later. The Frisco was acquired by the Burlington Northern in 1980, and the QA&P soon ceased to exist.

Like many railroads in Texas, the QA&P's local service had declined as paved roads and cheap gasoline gave rural Texans more flexible transportation options. Unlike other short lines, the QA&P's business base was interstate traffic, and they exploited this niche to the maximum extent. The Quanah, Acme & Pacific is now just a memoryIt was an unusual situation -- a short line railroad focused on selling transcontinental traffic -- and the odd Floydada gateway, essentially a connection between two agricultural branch lines, easily added 40 years to the QA&P's existence. But the Floydada gateway ultimately served only the QA&P's interests as Frisco and Santa Fe had more efficient options for interchange. Sooner or later, this tragic flaw would become important and the end of the QA&P would come soon thereafter.

The Agatite facility was abandoned long ago and they now make fiber-board products at the Acme plant owned by Georgia Pacific. The bridge over Groesbeck Creek still says "Quanah Acme & Pacific Ry", but it's now owned by BNSF, which absorbed the QA&P and all of the railroads with which it interchanged. The former crossing diamond at the interlocker for the FW&D is now just a siding switch underneath the US 287 overpass at Acme. But the QA&P heritage survives; every day, someone stops at the depot museum in Quanah and learns about the short line railroad with the interesting history.

Jim King Adds: Although [the Southwest Railroad Historical Society] receives a lot of letters, we don't get that many directly from railroads, especially railroads that have been defunct for twenty years. So you can imagine our surprise when a letter arrived at the musem from the "Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway Co., General Offices, Quanah, Texas", complete with company logo on custom printed stationery. Best of all, the letter was from Don Hofsommer, author of The Quanah Route and many other works of rail history. I had been fortunate to be able to locate an address for Professor Hofsommer in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and had sent him a copy of the Winter 1999 issue of Clearance Card, the cover story having been inspired by my reading of his history of the QA&P railroad. I certainly appreciated his taking the time to respond in such an interesting and unusual way.

I would like to thank Jim King for providing the material for this article, originally published in Vol. 36, No. 1 of The Clearance Card. -- Greg Harrison

Thanks to Jim King for contributing information about this route.

Showing of

The former Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway bridge over Groesbeck Creek near Acme now carries BNSF traffic along a surviving stretch of track that parallels BNSF's ex-Fort Worth and Denver line for several miles. The QA&P, owned by the Frisco, fought bitterly for years with ATSF over their connection at Floydada while they both fought the FW&D's expansion plans in the south plains of Texas. Ironically, all of the railroads involved in the QA&P story ended up as part of BNSF. Photo by Jim King.

Interlocking Towers

Nbr Location Railroads Type Authorized Retired Map
27 Quanah FW&DC, StL&SF    Mechanical 10/5/1903
171 Acme FW&D, QA&P    Unknown

Housecleaning, we pulled from the drawer a desktop magnet and for the first time bothered to read the logo:"Quana Route" with the "Quana, Acme& Pacific Railway Co., QUANA,TEXAS identification. Thanks for the interesting background to this now much-more-interesting little piece of Texas-Americana.

Don Schell
Valencia, PA
8/30/2009

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I have the original depot clock that was in the Floydada trminal. It has on the face Quanah Acme Pacific Railroad Floydada Texas. I felt fortunate to aquire the clock because I live in Quanah and Floyd County being named after Dolphin Ward Floyd. I am considering putting it on loan in the Quanah Museum. It still works great. I think it would look good hanging in front of the benches where people would have looked at a clock often and thinking about their schedules.

Robert Floyd
Quanah, TX
10/14/2009

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Quanah, this was Interesting to me as i am trying to register as a native american, i am related to Quanah Parker

kerry
los angeles
12/5/2009

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A descendant of James Bythel Mcree, grandson of James Lonza Utzman of Brown County Texas, claims her father signed a mineral rights Quit Claim in connection to Quanah Parker or the Q&A RR.

Jim Yarbrough
Houston, TX
4/22/2010

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My grandfather, J.C. Garner, whom raised me, was a telegrapher & RR Agent at the QA&P Depot in Quanah from 1944-1976, some of my earliest childhood memories were visiting PaPa at work in the old depot.

Chris
Quanah, TX
5/23/2010

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My husband's Grandfather and Great-Grandfather worked for Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railroad. I have a log book, a letter, and a pull toy (which happens to be a replica of Engine #27, a box car, another section and caboose #47). Engine 27 was JJ McCarthy (Great-grandfather) and the Caboose #47 was Eugene Batemon (Grandfather). I also have stock certificates and was wondering if they are any good. Any ideas where to check on that? I'd be happy to send you photos of the items I spoke about.

Gloria Batemon
Penngrove, CA
11/8/2010

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Having written this article in 1998, I finally met Don Hofsommer in 2009 at the NRHS Convention in Duluth, MN where he was the keynote speaker. As one of the organizers of the convention, I had the privilege of sitting with him and his wife at the banquet. We had a great chat about the QA&P, and he clearly remembered sending me the letter on QA&P stationery.

Jim King
Dallas, TX
1/3/2011

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As a locomotive engineer for the Cotton Belt, and later UP raiload, I worked on BNSF trackage rights, FtWorth to Childress,TX in the 90's. It was always a thrill for me to have my train routed over the BNSF #1 main track at Quanah, which is old QA&P trackage operated by the BNSF. QA&P has always been one of my favorite lost railroads, and being able to run a train over it was really something.

Donald E. Jones
Sulphur Springs, TX
4/13/2011

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I am William L Richardson's granddaughter. I remember playing outside the QAP office/depot in Quanah as a small child when he'd come to town. I have some of his QAP memorabilia still. He was the Vice President for years and he moved to Los Angeles when the railroad was bought out. My uncle, Donald E Fuller and my dad all worked in LA for BNSF/ATSF when they tookover.

Pamela Richardson-Hargesheimer
Quanah, TX
4/19/2011

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A few year back I read that James Marion Johnston or some of his close kin, were the 'contractors' on part if not the original Quanah Short Line. I am trying to learn more about that era of my ancestry. Several of my ancestors are buried at the Johnston Cemetery, North of Goodlett, TX and understand some of the decendants still live in the area. I would welcome hearing from any who would care to contact me.

Curtis L. Johnston
Clovis, NM
7/6/2011

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Spent alot of time out at Childress, my grandparents lived out there. Grandfather worked on the FW & D. He use to refer to the QA&P as "quit arguing and push". Anyone else ever hear that?

Larry
Aledo, TX
7/19/2011

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We just purchased land on the Pease River in Cottle County; it has an old abandoned railroad bed running thru it; the tracks and railroad ties have been removed; I believe it was from the QA&P?. Anyone familiar with this particular piece?

Dell Osborn
Rockwall, TX
7/28/2011

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No question...the only abandoned rail line in Cottle County near the Pease River is the QA&P.

Jim King
Dallas, TX
10/27/2011

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Sam Lazarus was my great great grandfather. I read Mr Hofsommer's book with great interest. I have a few photos of Mr. Lazarus and there are several artifacts that remain in the family. I also have visited his crypt in a large mausoleum in Sherman, TX. His only child, Henrietta (aka Dolly), had three children, Lazare, Valerie and my grandmother, Beverly. My father was executor of Lazare's estate. He, his mother, and to a somewhat lesser extent, his sisters, lived exceedingly well and managed to deplete the considerable fortune Sam amassed during his lifetime. Photos show there were private rail cars, a chauffeur driven Rolls, a yacht, a villa, 'Shangri-la' in Mougins, France and many parties. There also were many stock certificates from companies Lazare founded that did not succeed. I have no other documentation, but the family stories are that unlike his extremely capable grandfather, Lazare was not a good businessman and was swindled numerous times.

One of the clippings I have indicates Sam was 'frequently called upon to be the mayor of St. Louis.' I do not see anything to support that, but he was elected president of the city council in 1913.

Christopher Strong
Fort Worth, TX
1/22/2013

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I became quite interested in the railroad after I acquired a large collection of railroad matches through a friend of my late dad. This individual had several match books with the Quanah, Acme and Pacific logos on them. I purchased the book on the railroad while living in Las Vegas several years ago. I have read it from cover to cover. Having grown up on the south plains of TX it was interesting to learn about this railroad's history. I now reside in northeast PA, where several other railroading legacies still exist.

Richard Cornwall
Originally from Lubbock, Tx, TX
7/24/2013

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I hired out as a RR police man in Quanah in 1971, working on the QAP from Lawton to Roaring Springs. There there orig four QAP Ranger badges and I got the fourth one and I still have it the other three are suppose to be in graves some where as special agent in charge in st louis at the SLSF/BN emrger I got one of the original rifles it has a plate on the stock, PROPERTY SLSF RR 1936 I retire afyter 32 years as a Captain in chicago in 2001 note the orig QAP business car is located in Fredickberg about 50 miles from my home, it is now a Bed/Breakfact

steve podrovitz
leakey, TX
12/27/2013

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I started out on the Frisco in May 1969. My first trip was to the big city of Quanah.There are a lot of good times and memories of trips and lay overs.Found some family there and an old cowboy to shoot the breeze with. Largest train I pulled out of Quanah was just under two miles long.I went out on medical retirement in 1995

Bob Moore
Noble, OK
1/9/2014

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My father worked for this railway over 30 years, he was also from Acme. His father worked at the mill and his uncle worked at the Quanah roundhouse which got him interested in the railroad as a young boy. Have many good memories as a young boy ridding the rails between Quanah and Acme with my father.

Jay Hines
Enid, OK
2/6/2014

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A few random QA&P facts:

1) QA&P had grand designs to extend their line to El Paso. I have proposed extension maps showing 3-4 different routes to El Paso.

2) QA&P had at least one name passenger train, the PLAINSMAN, that operated in conjunction with the Frisco.

3) I believe QA&P had a big display at the State Fair in Dallas in the early 1900s and invited Quanah Parker as a draw.

4) Yes, there is a former QA&P office car being used as a bed & breakfast in Fredericksburg TX.

Dennis Hogan
Frisco, TX
5/10/2014

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Funny thing: two history books came out the same year on the QA&P. One was written by Dr. Don Hofsommer.

Dennis Hogan
Frisco, TX
5/10/2014

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This is a great page of railroad history. I like the pictures and the information, however your web page is revolving them much too fast to even read the information. Could you adjust the speed a little slower please, or add some "Pause" and "Resume" buttons. Thank You

Jim Gaynor
Fort Worth, TX
3/13/2015

[There should be a "pause" button above the picture, along with "previous" and "next" buttons as well.  —Greg Harrison]

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My brother, David Bursey, began his railroad career with the QA&P Railroad as a senior in Quanah High School working in the work school program. He went through all of the transitions, to the Frisco, Burlington Northern, and finally the BNSF. He retired in 1998 after working 40 years for the railroad. He had lived in Quanah, Enid, OK, Sand Springs, OK, Springfield, MO (twice), Chicago, Ft. Worth, and finally Topeka, KS. He passed away on December 24, 1999, shortly after his retirement.

Jannice Griffin
Quanah, TX
9/28/2015

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The last full train crew to serve the line:

Bill Clawson-senior conductor

Fred Pearce-conductor

L. L. Tidmore-conductor

Clyde King-senior engineer

Dee Smith-engineer/fireman

When the line was bulletined to be taken up from Floydada to Paducah, Clawson, Pearce and King operated the rail train. That left Tidmore and Smith to operate the nightly Quanah switcher. I was transferred from Okla City to Quanah and given a QA&P employee number to fill out the crew on the switcher.

Robert R Leese
YT ranch, TX
6/22/2016

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I have found the information fascinating, as it helps to have another piece of what happened during Sam Lazarus's life. He was a savvy businessman who doted on his only grandson, Lazare, my father. For whatever reasons, Lazare didn't have any business acumen. It's unfortunate that this RR didn't make it nor the endeavors of the people involved, but it is now a great history story.

Linda Nash
Hendersonville, NC
8/22/2016

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Such a wonderful piece of Texas history. I recently took the drive on 104 from paducah to quanah. I am very glad I did as much of the right of way is still visible. I hope that neither human and/or nature cause this wonderful piece of history to disappear.

Mike Stevens
Lubbock, TX
9/25/2016

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