(Winona) – On January 23 citizens from the towns along the historic Current River Railroad Line met at the Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona to explore the possibility of tourism and cultural attractions along the defunct railroad route that was abandoned by the Frisco Company in the 1970s.
Soon after the Current River Line’s creation in the late 1800s, it became the center of travel and commerce for the small towns and villages along its tracks. An 1888 map of the area shows the communities of Grandin, Chilton, Chicopee, McDonald, Low Wassie, Winona, Bartlett, Birch Tree, Montier, Mountain View, Hutton Valley, and Willow Springs to be located on the route. Most of the downtowns and business districts in these communities were built along the railroad and many original sites associated with the Line remain intact.
Several towns have already created attractions along the historic railroad. The City of Birch Tree has incorporated a city park, playground, and walking trail anchored by a restored depot and Frisco caboose. Though no formal plans were introduced at the meeting, members attending concluded that it would be feasible and worthwhile to organize sites along the old line into a self-guided historic tour, similar to Route 66.
The nonprofit group of citizens, which has elected to call itself the Historic Current River Line, Inc., is actively seeking participation from individuals who are interested in Ozark history, railroads, and early development of their hometowns. The members have stressed that all activities will be privately funded and completely voluntary.
For more information and to be notified of the next meeting, contact the group’s chairman, Josh Reeves of Willow Springs, at 417-247-0415.