This stretch of track was built in 1887 as the Grouse Creek Railroad. The line was organized by Arkansas City and Silverdale business and political leaders and financed by residents of Cowley County via the sale of bonds. The intent of the line was to connect Ark City with the Missouri Pacific subsidiary, Denver, Memphis & Atlantic Railroad at Dexter.
Throughout 1886 and 1887, construction crews for the DM&A graded a circuitous line from Chetopa, Labette County, Kansas through Coffeyville, Dearing, Caney, Sedan, Cedar Vale, Dexter, and Winfield, Kansas with construction ultimately terminating at Larned, Kansas in Pawnee County. As an east-west line with direct service to St. Louis, the MoP's DM&A was a serious attraction to Ark City business interests, who wasted little time organizing a connecting line that ultimately intersected the DM&A at Dexter. Grouse Creek afforded a gentle grade and construction advanced quickly with the first excursion train rolling over the line between Ark City and Dexter on November 3, 1887.
The line operated independently but for a short time and by the early 1890s it had been acquired by the Missouri Pacific. MoP considered extending the line southward toward Blackwell, Oklahoma and points beyond but nothing ever came of it. With the region already sufficiently covered by the Santa Fe and the Frisco there was little incentive for the MoP to lay tracks into a saturated market. So it was that Ark City remained the southern terminus of what proved to be a slow and leisurely prairie branch line.
Ark City newspapers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are rife with complaints about the MoP's inattentive service with city leaders organizing committees to get to the bottom of matters. Complaining about railroad service was nothing unusual for the time (much like today's airlines) and the MoP likely provided bare-minimum service for what amounted to a rather remote terminus on its far-flung network of lightly-populated prairie branch lines.
Freight traffic at Ark City consisted of a MoP grain elevator and, in later years, a large oil refinery. There were no doubt a few other online customers in town in addition to whatever interchange traffic transpired with the Santa Fe and Frisco. The MoP operated through passenger service to St. Louis into the early post-war years, with passenger traffic over the line likely ending by the early 1950s. Freight traffic over the line continued into the mid-1970s with abandonment and track removal occurring in the early 1980s.
About 1906, the Midland Valley Railroad negotiated a track-sharing agreement with the MoP to access Ark City via a junction at Silverdale. This arrangement continued up to about 1968, when the Midland Valley abandoned service north of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.