Mississippi River & Bonne Terre Railway

The building of the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railroad created unusual interest due to the way it was constructed. Up to the year 1880 the products and supplies of the St. Joseph Lead Co., one of the largest in the world, were transported by means of wagons between the mines and the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railway. In this year the St. Joseph Lead Company built a narrow gauge railroad thirteen and one-half miles long, reaching from the mines to Summit in Washington County, a point on the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad. The cost was divided between the two companies, the St. Joe paying two-thirds and the Desloge Company paying one-third. In 1887 the St. Joe Lead Company purchased the holdings of the Desloge Lead Company, and in an endeavor to find a way to lower the transportation costs a shorter route was sought.

So in 1888 a charter was granted to the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railway Company and a line was surveyed from Riverside in Jefferson County to the Mississippi River, twenty-five miles below St. Louis, to Bonne Terre. It was constructed as a narrow gauge railroad and completed between these two points in 1890 and the Summit Railroad was abandoned. Four years later the road was changed to standard gauge and later extended from Bonne Terre to Doe Run, crossing the Belmont Branch of the Iron Mountain at Doe Run Junction. The total length of the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railroad was, when completed, only forty-seven miles long, but it proved a great factor in the development of the Lead Belt and there was an enormous amount of traffic on the road. It was constructed as substantially as most trunk lines. A branch line was built to Leadwood and there are many additional miles of feeders, switches and sidings. The railroad passed through the important towns of Bonne Terre, Desloge, St. Francois, Flat River, Rivermines, Elvins and Doe Run. At the present time it operates a gasoline passenger train and two round trips are made daily.

Publishedby THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri. June 10, 1938.

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