The Last Train (Almost)

Everybody in Kaw City knew when to expect the Santa Fe train to roll through the city. On slow, summer evenings, it wasn’t unusual for a crowd to gather on the north end of town by the grain elevator to watch it go by. But the town was being forced to move and soon the train tracks would be covered with deep waters from a new lake. December 10, 1971 marked a historic, if not sad occasion for the people of Kaw City. It was the final day the train would ever be scheduled to come through their town. People missed work and children were released from school so they could be there to witness the train chugging away from the depot one last time.

One man in particular must have been filled with nostalgia as he climbed onto the engine of the train that day. John Brown was once a water boy for the railroad, carrying tumblers and a kettle of water back and forth to passengers. He rode the first train that came into Kaw City, and he was there to ride the last train out.

John Brown (left) and Mayor Fred Munson (right) waiting to ride the last train out of Kaw City

Ironically, the train would make one more trip through Kaw City. Following heavy rains in Oklahoma, the only way for the train to get past flooded tracks was to be re-routed through the town. Unexpectedly, people were awakened in the middle of the night to hear that old familiar sound of their train rumbling by.

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