Railroads of Miller County


Although no railroads were built in this county before 1880, there had been much agitation in favor of them. A few years after the Civil war efforts were made to build a railroad between Jefferson City and Tuscumbia. This line was finally to be extended to Lebanon. A proposition to vote $150,000 for this railroad was defeated by the voters of the county, January 16, 1872. The proposition carried in only two townships--Equality and Saline--but was defeated in Richwoods Township by a vote of 211 to 0. The total vote was 750 to 274.

The branch of the Missouri Pacific to Bagnell was surveyed in the winter of 1881-1882. The first railroad tax in this county was paid by this line, then known as the Jefferson City, Lebanon and Southwestern. This tax amounted to $572.92. The road later known and the Chicago, Rock Island and the Pacific Railroad was built through the northern part of the county in 1902-1903. The first trains of this railroad reached Eldon on October 22, 1903.

 Becker Cut

Three days later the track was laid through the town of Eldon. Before that time businessmen of Aurora Springs had shown considerable interest in the proposed road, and failure to secure it contributed to further decline of the town.

 Laying Track

Above a crew works on Becker Cut in Miller County west of Eugene. Standing on cart in background is M.O. (Doc) Henley and on the other cart is younger brother, Arnold. Man at far left is identified as Bill Rush and, third from right with shovel, George Sullens.

Emil Becker of Spring Garden had a contract with the new railroad to open up the dividing ridge between the Osage and Missouri rivers, known since as the "Becker Cut." Times were tough in 1901 and people thought they were getting rich making $1.50 a day. The going rate was 15 cents an hour for a 10-hour day; 30 cents an hour with a horse.

A number of other railroads were promised to Miller County but were never built. The first of these was a line which was to be built between St. Louis and Fort Scott, Kansas. This route seems to have been surveyed in 1872. In the fall of 1879 a party of engineers and surveyors came to Iberia and made surveys for a railroad. The main object of the construction of this road was to convey iron ore to St. Louis. Other railroads which were promised included Miller County Railway Company of Jefferson City, which was incorporated in 1901, and the Ozark Transit Company of Waynesville, incorporated November 19, 1906. The latter was to be an interurban road and pass through Cole, Miller and Pulaski Counties and extend into Texas County.

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