Coming Of Railroads To Bentonville - Almost By J. Dickson Black (1985)
So much has been said and written over the years about Bentonville losing the railroad to Rogers, and the people of Bentonville not wanting a railroad, maybe we should take a better look into history before we say much more on this.
The truth is Bentonville didn't lose the St. Louis and Texas Railway Company as the Frisco was called in the beginning to Rogers as some will say. There was no Rogers when the line came into Arkansas.
In 1860 meetings were held in Northwest Arkansas to promote a railroad out of Missouri to Fort Smith. The largest of these meetings was held in Bentonville at which time several people offered to buy stock or give land to have a railroad. Benton county offered $500 of county money if a line was built at that time. The plannning then was to come through Pineville, Mo. and on to Bentonville.
The Civil War put an end to those plans. It was the early 1870's before there was money enough money in the county to talk railroads again. Between then and 1878 several franchises were given for railroad lines across Benton County all of which planned to come through Bentonville.
Bentonville people would have bought stock or given money to any of these lines had they laid track to the town.
First was the Pierce City, Bentonville and Fort Smith Railroad Company, incorporated date unknown Northwest Arkansas Railroad Company incorporated Dec. 22, 1877. Neosho Bentonville and Southern Railroad Company, incorporated date unknown. Kansas City Joplin and Little Rock Railroad Company, incorporated Dec. 16 1878 after having acquired the franchises of all the above lines.
Bentonville people were interested in all of these lines, even through none of them laid any track.
There was only ever one train line built to and through Bentonville. It was origially called the Bentonville Railroad Co., later becoming the Arkansas & Oklahoma Railroad. Then it became part of the Frisco.
At the time that the railroad line was built into Benton County they could have picked up the franchise for the Pierce City, Bentonville and Fort Smith Railroad Company and built right through Bentonville. But the builders picked a route from Monett, Missouri to Osborne, Arkansas and on to Fayetteville. This part of the line was completed during June 1881. I am sure they were thinking of the cost of laying the track when they planned this route, not the towns they would go through. After all several towns that were missed just moved to be on the railroad line.
Rogers was started months after the track route was laid out. After all there were many miles between Bightwater and what is now Lowell, so there was room for a new town which was started with the blessing of the railroad company.
The Frisco had several name changes in the early days. It started as St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company of Missouri, incorporated June 4, 1880, and in July 1880 incorporated St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company of Arkansas. On June 28, 1881 both were consolidated. Jan. 21, 1882 it became the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company.
Just to show that Bentonville did want a railroad some citizens of that town put up the money and incorporated the Bentonville Railroad Co. on Feb. 11, 1882. The line from Bentonville to Rogers was completed during 1883. It was sold to the Arkansas and Oklahoma Railroad Company, Nov. 17, 1900, later to Frisco.
Sometime in the late 1890's a group of Bentonville men sold stock in what they called the Bentonville to Kansas City Railway. The track bed started in the north part of town and ran all the way to the state line. There are several places where this old bed can still be seen. Several miles of highway 71 north are built on it.
This image is believed to be the grading of a railroad bed north of Bentonville. It has been said that this line ran through what is now the Crystal Bridges property.
No track was ever laid. The idea of the promoters was if they built the bed into Missouri they could sell out to some big line and make a lot of profit.
The above shows that Bentonville had wanted a railroad but the town just didn't seem to be in the right location. One would wonder if because Bentonville couldn't get the Frisco, did some of the old timers just start saying they hadn't wanted the old thing anyhow. The whole story has grown since.