Arkansas & Missouri Railroad (A&M) May 2011
Having flown into the NW Regional Airport near Fayetteville, AR, the first two days of our mammoth trip were spent based in Springdale, AR, at the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad which runs from Fort Smith, AR, to Monnett, MO and is an Alco haven, having only Alco locomotives on their roster!
Though a freight line the A&M do run regular passenger trains throughout the year, all the details of which can be found using the calendar feature on their website. Tickets can also be booked there too, although if you prefer to ring in I’m sure Brenda (Passenger Train Manager) will be happy to help. She certainly looked after us while we were there, as always. The whole staff at the A&M are very friendly and very helpful, they even had us “English folk” being interviewed for a local TV programme that was being filmed at the A&M during the time we were there.
This trip was a flying visit, literally, into the local NW Arkansas airport, two days doing trains then away by hire car. Our first day was spent riding the regular service which ran Springdale – Van Buren & return, with a trip from Van Buren – Winslow in between for those wanting to do a train ride from Van Buren, while the Springdale passengers enjoyed the afternoon in Van Buren. Our loco of the day was Alco C420 #68, which we were a little disappointed with as we’d had it on our previous two visits, although by the end of the day we’d had over 1000km’s off the machine.
The second day was a little different it was the day the A&M celebrated National Train Day, and also the same day that the Seligman Chamber of Commerce ran their annual train from Seligman to Van Buren, which meant lots of mileage and hopefully a different engine at Van Buren to operate the 4 Van Buren – Copp Jct “shuttle” trains which the railway operated for the National Train Day event. All the trains aside, Van Buren also had a “festival” with the streets being lined with all sorts of stalls, and there were people everywhere. It was a very early start, 0400 out of bed, to ride to Seligman in the morning, of course with C420 #68, which then worked back to Van Buren. We’d already worked out that there could only be one of three locos waiting at Van Buren to be the Copp Jct T&T loco, as we’d seen the rest. The maths for us wasn’t good, but thankfully it was #58, which we’d not had before on the A&M. One shuttle was enough though and we spent the mid afternoon soaking up the delights of Van Buren before returning to Springdale only with the return Seligman special. It was then a mad dash across the state to Little Rock for Amtrak’s Texas Eagle to Chicago…….