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July 15, 1995

Photograph of Frisco Diesel engine 601 arriving in Perry Depot in 1952
Frisco Diesel engine 601 arriving at Perry depot in 1952 with Train 605, headed for Tulsa. (Photo by Ed Klewer)

Photograph of Frisco Train 604 Leaving Perry in April 1951
Frisco Train 604 leaving Perry in April 1951 with Santa Fe depot visible at left. (Photo by Ed Klewer)

Several weeks ago, I ran some information in this column about the "doodlebug" and other trains that used to pass through here on the Frisco line, which is now the Burlington Northern line. Those facts came from Wesley A. Leatherock of Oklahoma City, son of The Journal's former publisher, W. K. Leatherock, and they sparked a good deal of interest among local citizens.

Ed and Betty Klewer of Stillwater, friends of ours when they used to live in Perry, read the article and it set Ed to thinking about his own railroad recollections. The Klewers stay in touch with Perry through Betty's aunt, Ollie Walls, and her son, Dale, who visit the Klewers quite often. Let me share a portion of Ed's recent letter:

"I like to read your 'Northwest Corner' and in this instance was quite interested in the comment of Mr. Leatherock regarding the Frisco trains through Perry -- now the Burlington Northern, minus any passenger trains of course.

"When we lived in Ponca City (1950-56), we often drove to Perry on old U.S. 77 to see Aunt Ollie and family. In April 1951 we made such a trip, and since I am still a railroad fan (and ex-Santa Fe employee in 1946-47), I took a picture of Train 604 with the Santa Fe depot partially in view on the left.

"Good memories for me, of course, as I was/am an avid fan of steam locomotives. Train 604 ran from Enid to Tulsa (and Train 609 was the Tulsa-Enid run as well), and back then the train passed through Perry around 4 p.m. headed for Tulsa. Unfortunately, the steam engine #185 was on "short time" as the frisco was to pull it out of service around December 15, 1951, and replace it with a diesel, shown in another photo, as Engine 601, arriving at the Perry depot with Train 604, headed for Tulsa.

"Mr. Leatherock was right about the 'doodlebug' frequently ran on this route and continued on to Vernon, Texas, but when the ‘bug' was out of service for a tuneup, engines such as the 185 were used from Tulsa to Enid. Then, another engine was put on the train at Enid and on to Vernon.

"When the merger of Santa Fe and the Burlington Northern is approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission and Department of Transportation in Washington, there will be more freights through Perry. I hear there will be a new turnout installed on the BN to connect the Santa Fe line southbound."

Railroad stories are full of romance and adventure, because there is an underlying feeling that this mode of travel may disappear in our lifetime. That makes recollections such as this all the more interesting. We already have seen the departure of passenger train service from this state and steam locomotives are now nothing but dinosaurs, relics of a storied past.

My sincere thanks to Ed Klewer for this information and for the excellent pictures of two Frisco trains from out of Perry's recent past.