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Fort Smith and Western Railway

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Title: Fort Smith and Western Railway  
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Subject: Toledo and Ohio Central Railway, Missouri–Illinois Railroad, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Western Railroad, Duluth and Iron Range Railroad, Atlanta, Birmingham and Coast Railroad
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Fort Smith and Western Railway

Fort Smith and Western Railway
Reporting mark FSW
Locale Arkansas, Oklahoma
Dates of operation 1899–1939
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Fort Smith, Arkansas

The Fort Smith and Western Railway (reporting mark FSW) was a railroad that operated in the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The railroad's main line extended 197 miles (317 km), from Coal Creek, Oklahoma to Guthrie, Oklahoma, with an additional 20 miles (32 km) of trackage rights over the Kansas City Southern Railway between Fort Smith, Arkansas and Coal Creek. Guthrie was the territorial capital of Oklahoma, and a junction point with the Santa Fe Railway. The Fort Smith and Western owned a subsidiary, St. Louis, El Reno and Western Railway, which began operating 42 miles (68 km) between Guthrie and El Reno, Oklahoma in June 1904.


The Fort Smith and Western Railroad was incorporated in Arkansas in 1899 and began construction westward through Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. On November 1, 1903, the railroad was opened between Fort Smith and Guthrie. The capital of Oklahoma was moved from Guthrie to Oklahoma City in 1910, and in 1915, the FS&W acquired 32.5 miles (52.3 km) of trackage rights over the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad from Fallis, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City.

The U.S. District Court in Fort Smith placed the Fort Smith and Western Railroad in receivership on October 9, 1915, on petition by the Superior Savings & Trust Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The company emerged from receivership as the Fort Smith and Western Railway on February 1, 1923, only to re-enter receivership on June 1, 1931. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad withdrew trackage rights between Fallis and Oklahoma City in January 1939 after the FS&W defaulted on rental fees, and the FS&W ceased operations on February 9, 1939.

The route of the FS&W served no major population centers, but did serve major coal mining operations in eastern Oklahoma at Coal Creek, Bokoshe, and McCurtain. Other towns served included Crowder, Weleetka, Okemah, Boley, Paden, Prague, and Meridian. A major portion of the road's freight traffic was metallurgical-grade coal from San Bois Coal Company mines near McCurtain. As coal traffic declined, an oil discovery near Okemah brought additional traffic, which postponed the abandonment of the railroad.

After the FS&W ceased operation, the trackage between Coal Creek and McCurtain was purchased by the Fort Smith and Van Buren Railway, a subsidiary of the Kansas City Southern Railway.


  • Poor's Manual of Railroads - 1919, Poor's Publishing Co., New York, New York.
  • Drury, George H. (1985) Historical Guide to North American Railroads, Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee, WI. ISBN 0-89024-072-8
  • Hull, Clifton E. (1988) Shortline Railroads of Arkansas, UCA Press, Conway, AR. ISBN 0-944436-00-5
  • Hofsommer, Donovan L. (1982) Railroads of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, OK. ISBN 0-941498-27-1

External links

  • Fort Smith and Western vs. Mills, 253 U.S. 206 (1920)
  • Oklahoma legislation permitting railroad construction in Choctaw and Creek Nations.
  • Oklahoma Digital Maps: Digital Collections of Oklahoma and Indian Territory
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