1924 - 1939: Southwest Missouri Railroad Company
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#4 & #5 were originally built by GE as electric interurban style freight motors.
The Southwest Missouri Railroad Company ordered two interurban style boxcab trolley freight motor locomotives from General Electric in Erie, PA. The two units were built during February of 1924 with a completion date of 03/01/24 as S.M.R.C. #3 & #4. The truck assemblies were MCB interurban type made by the Taylor Electric Truck Company of Troy, NY. The locomotives had two truck assemblies, with each truck having two axles and tractions motors that required 600 volts DC to operate them.
The electrical power source to these locomotives would be provided by a copper wire that was hung over the tracks. This was acheived by placing wood poles along one side of the tracks with a metal support arm located near the top that would suspend the copper wire directly over the center of the tracks. A metal trolley pole located in the center of each locomotive cab roof would be raized and connected to the overhead wire when the locomotives would require electrical power.
Once #3 & #4 were placed into operation, the S.M.R.C. discovered that one locomotive was not enough to pull the heavy ore and lead trains from the area mines to the smelters. The S.M.R.C. then found it was necessary to couple both the #3 & #4 together to handle their trains. With more locomotives being necessary to handle the growing amount of train traffic, the S.M.R.C. decided to built four more identical locomotives themselves at there Webb City, MO shops. The #5 & #6 were built in 1927 and #7 & #8 were built in 1929, only two of the six units survived the demise of the S.M.R.C. with #3, #6, #7, & #8, all being scrapped by the end of 1939. At the demise of the S.M.R.C. #4 & #5 were moved to a siding in Picher, Okahoma. They sat here long after the overhead wire was removed and the local population thoroughly cannibalized off all copper wire and brass that could be sold for junk.
The Southwest Missouri Railroad Company #4 & #5 freight motors were the first pair of locomotives to be permanently coupled to together. The #5 was also the first locomotive that was built by the S.M.R.C. shop forces and completed in February 1927.
A few changes occured to the GE built #3 & #4 locomotives during the construction of the #5 & #6. The rear headlights, pilots, couplers and draft gear, of #3 & #4 were used and placed onto the front of #5 & #6. Also installed between the units was an MU electrical jumper cable and additional brake piping and hose connections. The paired locomotives were connected with a drawbar that could not be uncoupled. All three paired locomotive sets at the front right side had the engineers controls, this allowed head end movement in either direction.
A letter dated to the trolley museum dated May 9, 1983 from Mr. Earl E. McMechan of Raystown, MO states that he operated all six of the locomotives during his youth when he was employeed by the S.M.R.C. He also included and provided historical information along with dated photographs regarding these boxcab locomotives.
Photographs are the property of JC McHugh collection
Locomotives #5 & #4 in front of the car barn, the power house is in the background. The date is february 12, 1927 and #5 was just completed. The proud men that had built #5 are shown in this photograph are left to right, R.F. Fain, cheif electrican, Fred Herrow, L.W. Porter, on the ground General Mgr. E.J. Pratt, Robert huey, Supt Fred Hullett, Tom Riggs, Sam Downey, Hi Sparks, bert Carpenter, George Smith, Pappy Carmichael, Bill Felts, J.O. Herd, Drew Walker, Mike Herron, On the rear of #4 Bill Webb, & Loren Fullerton.