Houck Railroad Bridges

I was planning to write about Happy Hollow, but I ran across so many good stories I decided to hold off until I can do it justice. Here’s a piece of the Happy Hollow neighborhood that has what Missourian blogger James Baughn says may have been the oldest bridge in Cape Girardeau.You should read his blog entry about two bridges here that spanned Good Hope and William Streets. Reading his account will boost his traffic stats and save me some typing. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Louis Houck decided to use area between Independence and William Streets for his railroad depot, rail yard and other facilities. You might remember the large three-story stone building near where the federal courthouse is today. I wish I had some photos of it, but it was torn down before I started documenting things like that. This trench and overpasses provided a south approach to the rail yard.

Aerial of South Fountain area

The bridges were taken out and the area filled in when South Fountain Street was extended to River Campus. River Campus is on the left side of the photo. The approach to the old Mississippi River Traffic Bridge is at the east end of Morgan Oak.

View south from William Street

The street was still under construction when this was shot November 9, 2010, but it is open now.

I wonder if ghost whistles of Louis Houck’s engines can still be heard in the neighborhood at night. I’m sure reader Keith Robinson will tell us much more about the railroad.


8 Replies to “Houck Railroad Bridges”

    1. My granddad built a storm cellar by taking the rails from an abandoned Houck Railroad and pouring concrete around them
      As a kid I rode out several bad storms in there and a couple of tornadoes. The cellar was ancient by the time I was born and neighbors would warn us that it might collapse but dad would just laugh at them

    1. Thanks, Fred, for filling in the blanks.

      Sorry it took a little while to release your post. I was away from the computer and the spam filter puts a hold on any comment that has more than one link in it. I may have to loosen the reins a bit.

  1. The area of Sleepy Hollow might well hear ghost whistles in the night. Just south of the Morgan Oak viaduct, was the location of the untimely death of my great-great grandfather, Jesse Robinson in 1901 when my great grandfather, Goley Robinson was working for Houck’s Southern Missouri & Arkansas Railroad. The SM&A was the progenitor of all the tracks in downtown Cape and to the south. According to the Coroner’s Inquest Report, Jesse was apparently run over by an SM&A train backing down the tracks when a double-bit crosscut saw that he was carrying over his shoulder caught the back end of one of the cars. He was 56 years old and my great grandfather was 19. As result, the Robinson family ended up in a house on the Louis Houck estate until the family could get on their feet. Goley and his younger brother Ivan, were locomotive firemen on a number of Houck’s railroads until they finally became part of the Frisco and Missouri Pacific. My great grandfather stated that he would sound a wavering whistle everytime he passed over the spot where his father died.

  2. For Cape natives, the line under the viaducts and out the middle of Independence St may have been a fascination whenever the train crews went west to switch at businesses served by rail in the west-central area, but I wonder how many recognize that those tracks continued out across Kingshighway, through the Arena Park and continued along what is now Hawthorn Drive and across the Hawthorn School yard. It crossed Kingshighway again where the Civic Center is, and continued towards Jackson along the roadbed of Route W.
    This track had been the Cape Girardeau & Chester, later the Cape Girardeau Northern; two of Houck’s many railroad endeavors.
    I invite anyone interested in more about railroading in Cape Girardeau to check the Cape Girardeau sub-forum on http://www.frisco.org.

  3. I enjoy stories about the Houck Railroad. I grew up near Libertyville which is 9 miles South of Farmington. A branch of the Houck ran near Libertyville and there was a Depot on Wesley Chapel Road about a mile North of that town.

    I heard many stories about the Houck from my dad who would point out to me the various places the line ran which were still visible in the 60’s and 70’s.

    The line near Libertyville Mo was abandoned many,many years ago. My grandfather used a number of the steel rails to reinforce a concrete storm cellar on the Belken homestead. He and my dad had watched a tornado go through and destroy several farms South of us. Grandpa wanted a strong cellar and in a roundabout way Louis B Hock provided him with the means.

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