The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978 Page: 122
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South weste? n Historical Quarterly
ed which had to be filled if the West was to maximize its development
potential. Growth depended upon the continued expansion of the trans-
portation network. Of the 47,000 miles of railroad added to the United
States total in the first decade of the twentieth century, the West claimed
60 percent. By I9Io Texas held first place among the states in mileage,
but Oklahoma (which achieved statehood in I907) experienced a con-
struction surge which resulted in over 4,000 miles, a total almost as great
as the addition in her sister state below the Red River.
Indeed, Texas businessmen provided much of the impetus for Okla-
homa railroads. Donovan L. Hofsommer of Wayland Baptist College
weaves an excellent story of the entrepreneurial drive of Wichita Falls
residents who, combining the dual motives of urban boosterism and pri-
vate profit, forged the Wichita Falls and Northwest Railway which by
1912 linked Wichita Falls and the Oklahoma Panhandle town of Forgan.
Hofsommer's story also includes the Beaver, Meade and Englewood, a
short line which connected Beaver City, Oklahoma, with the WF&NW
at Forgan and eventually Hooker, Oklahoma.
Built primarily to carry the agricultural produce of western Oklahoma,
the WF&NW came under the wing of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Rail-
way in 1911 as part of the expansion policy of Edwin Hawley. Control
of the WF&NW also brought several subsidiary lines being held in a
holding company arrangement. After a Katy bankruptcy in 1922, the
satellite roads became part of a new corporation, the Missouri-Kansas-
Texas Railroad of Texas, while the WF&NW remained with the reorgan-
ized (and renamed) Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and designated the
Northwestern District. After a legal battle with the Rock Island, Katy
added the BM&E in 193i.
The history of the Northwestern District followed two paths-condi-
tions in the District and the overall fortunes of the Katy. The grain traf-
fic fluctuated with the harvest, while the automobile wiped out passenger
traffic. The Katy never managed to get its head above water after the
reorganization of the 1920s. A combination of debt, insufficient traffic,
and bad management kept the road in constant danger of bankruptcy.
Even the renowned John W. Barriger (who wrote a foreword to this vol-
ume) could not turn around the decaying situation. The normal pattern
of decreasing traffic, deferred maintenance, and finally in i973, abandon-
ment and sale, summarizes the history of the Northwestern District.
Hofsommer has made a notable addition to the literature of an ignored,
but important aspect of railroads-the branch line. Beautifully research-
ed, profusely illustrated and well-written, the volume gives us yet another
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978, periodical, 1977/1978; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/m1/140/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.