Monte Ne Railway

Monte Ne (Benton County) resort promoter William “Coin” Harvey built the five-mile standard gauge Monte Ne Railway to link the new resort to the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco) main line at Lowell (Benton County). Frisco surveyors laid out the route, and Frisco workers assisted in track construction prior to the June 19, 1902, opening. (Harvey’s fellow “free silver” proponent William Jennings Bryan spoke at the grand opening, but the event was sparsely attended due to heavy rain and a charge to hear the speaker.) The Monte Ne Railway used poor quality fifty-six-pound rail purchased from the Frisco, which, like other big railroads, sold worn-out main line and side track to smaller companies.

The Monte Ne Railway shared the depot at Lowell with the Frisco until the summer of 1910. Scheduled passenger train service between Lowell and Monte Ne ended in 1908, when an automobile replaced the train. The Monte Ne depot was a large, two-story log and stone building that featured two enclosed waiting rooms with fireplaces and a 150′ x 26′ open-air waiting area. The large depot was needed, as Frisco excursion trains from Grove, Oklahoma; Joplin, Missouri; Pettigrew (Madison County); and other points visited Monte Ne in the early years of the resort. Between 1902 and 1908, detraining hotel passengers were transported by gondola from the Monte Ne depot to their accommodations.

The railroad had one steam engine (an 1870s-era 4-4-0 Baldwin unit, probably purchased in May 1902 from the Frisco) and a combination baggage-passenger car likely of Frisco origin.

In 1902, the Rogers White Lime Works built a three-kiln lime plant near Cross Hollows (Benton County) that generated many carloads of outgoing traffic for the railroad. In addition, the early years saw extensive rail shipments of oak logs brought to Monte Ne by wagon from nearby Madison County.

In December 1909, Fleming F. Freeman, president of the Rogers White Lime Works, purchased the Monte Ne Railway from Harvey. The Monte Ne Railway later became the Middle Division of the Arkansas, Oklahoma and Western that, in turn, became the Kansas City and Memphis Railway. The last passenger service between Monte Ne and Rogers (Benton County) was September 1914.

For additional information:
Engineering Field Notes of ICC Parties Surveying the Physical Properties of Railroads. Records of the Interstate Commerce Commission, Box 848. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

The Frisco and Steam. Supplement to Midwest Railroader Magazine (1982): 3.

Funk, Erwin. “The Day Monte Ne Saw Its First Railroad Train.” Benton County Pioneer 5 (November 1960): 36–38.

Harlow, Lester C. “A Short History of Railroads in Benton County, Arkansas.” Benton County Pioneer 16 (Spring 1971): 42–51.

“F. F. Freeman Buys Monte Ne Railroad.” Rogers Democrat, December 9, 1909, p. 1.

Untitled article. Springdale News, December 6, 1901, p. 1.

Thomas S. Duggan
Lowell, Arkansas


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