Frisco Lines Active In Benton County Growth - By Paul Morris, Director of Publicity, Frisco Lines From The Benton County Democrat (1950) Now the NWA Democrat Gazette - The Century of Progress Edition
[Just a note before you start reading this article: the area has changed considerably since this article was written several decades ago. We are now less of an agricultural area and more of a business area. The business of fruit, dairy and farming are not such a large part of the economic landscape in this day.]
Since before the turn of the [20th] century, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company (Frisco) has been playing a stellar role in the development of Bentonville and Benton County.
Realizing that this great Ozark region held boundless possibilities for homeseekers, the Frisco, from its earliest years of service to the area, has concentrated much of its work in the territory around Bentonville in the development of agriculture and agricultural by-products.
"We for years on the Frisco, have used Northwestern Arkansas as a yardstick to measure successful diversified agriculture," C. B. Michelson, director of agricultural development for the Frisco declared. "Although this section is highly favored with natural advantages, such as climate topography, soil and water, the greatest asset, in our opinion, is the people who shape and make their living conditions more favorable each year."
Michelson pointed out that "for many years the people of Bentonville and surrounding territory, have decided what type of production their thickly-populated area needed to give higher income, which in turn produces good trade territories. The Frisco has always found the people of this region ready and willing to give support and encouragement to improved agricultural development. To mention a few of the things which have stimulated this development, we need only to mention the County Fair, the canning plants, poultry, dressing plants, cheese plant and a keen interest in soil fertility improvement," Michelson continues.
The Frisco official emphasized that "soil fertility" remains the major problem if the area is to make "future progress in fruit, vegetable, feed crops and pasture production. Dairying and poultry increase the total sales from a farm and give the highest income for the labor involved," he said.
"But, "he added, "the first thing for agriculture to do is to honestly face facts and resolve to do the things sound reasoning demands. The first fact we must observe is that nowhere in the world - is there a permanent agriculture which is not based on a hay and pasture crop economy. The highest ratio of owner operations, the most dependable farming systems are the ones that depend on the production and utilization of hay and pasture crops. This is Nature's way of keeping the soil at home, and it does pay. From the interest already expressed in pasture improvement in the Bentonville area, there is no doubt but that the people of this area are cognizant of this fact."
Frisco engine stopped in Rogers
The Frisco agricultural leader declared that broiler production with its volume consumption of high protein feed has done much in aiding soil fertility in this region but warned that "we should be sure it is not lost by water run."
Michelson predicted that dairy production "will become more popular" and said "we must never lose sight of the fact that many different types of production have made Northwestern Arkansas popular for diversification and a section most favorable for a permanent high economy."
The growth of Benton County follows closely with the coming of the railroad through the area. The Frisco lines were extended into Rogers and through Benton County in 1881.
Serving Rogers, the line cuts through the county to the north and operates through Gateway, Garfield, Avoca and Lowell. A branch line for freight service extends from Rogers to Bentonville. For a number of years this line extended west through Gravette, to Southwest City, Mo., and on to Grove, Okla.
Working with the local communities, this vast rail network has been a big help in the growth and development of the area. Serving this vast fruit, poultry and livestock and dairy area of Northwest Arkansas, the main line of the Frisco opens the way to distant markets with fast transportation.