Kentucky Street

Photo by Mike Condren

This tower contained the CTC for the Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge and Terminal Co. and controlled the trackage from just west of the IC crossing to Briark. A supplementary panel allowed the operator to control switches at the west end of "Broadway". At one time, there was also a Frisco operator at the east end of the building.

Images collected from a video shot by Mike Condren
These images are of the CTC panel in Kentucky St. tower on March 3, 1986. The operator is Steve Forrest.

J. Daivd Ingles Collection
Rock Island train 14 passes the Kentucky Street operator's office, running later than its 530am scheduled arrival. Rock Island's night trains serving Memphis were renumbered from trains 111-112 to trains 14-15 on September 9, 1956, and then again renumbered to trains 21-22 on October 25, 1959. Note the rarely photographed Kentucky Street train order signal (for Frisco trains) which is visible over the second car. Also note the rodding at lower left, by which the Kentucky Street operator controlled the track switches in foreground.

The following comments are from Steve Forrest who was once an operator at Kentucky Street.
"The train order signal was for SLSF trains. All westbound MP, RI, and SSW trains had to get train orders at Ky St, as designated by timetable, so no train order signal was needed for them. SLSF trains could get orders in either direction, but since clearance was not required they needed the TO signal. I can't really remember when it was removed from service, but it must have been about the same time the SLSF operators were moved to Tennessee Yard, which was in the early 80's. The SLSF operator also had a very small CTC board, as well as some Armstrong levers. Any RI, MP or SSW train coming in or out of the IC was lined by the SLSF operator from Ky St."

"So, to sum it up, up until the early 80's at Ky St there was a SLSF operator who copied train orders for SLSF, and us who copied RI and MP orders (remember the MP line between Briark and Bald Knob was ABS/ train order territory up until 1972 when it got CTC). Since the SSW ran via the RI between Briark and Brinkley, they just got RI orders and were given 700 series numbers in the RI timetable. Later, when the RI ceased operations, we began copying train orders for the Cotton Belt train on Cotton Belt (SP) forms issued by the SSW dispatcher in Pine Bluff. When DTC went into effect, all we gave them were slow orders, just as we did for the MP trains after it was CTC'd between Briark and Bald Knob. Finally, when Ky St was on its last days, both MP and SSW trains started getting their slow orders from their yard offices."

William Henry Guhlstorf, 78, of Bartlett (TN), retired Missouri Pacific Railroad Operator, passed away Friday, February 3, 2006 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis.

"Mr. Guhlstorf, who worked many first trick shifts at Kentucky Street, provided much information about the operations in and around Kentucky Street up until he retired. I remained friends with Henry after he retired. He was always eager to have "company" to discuss railroading with. He will be missed. Thank you Henry." Joseph Yarbrough

"I knew him as 'Mr. Henry'. He was always a wealth of information while waiting in the warmth or cool of his office. He told me of the times when water was so high that he had to take a boat to get to work at Briark. Steve Forrest and I had planned to go visit him on Steve's next visit to get the answers to some of the questions that have been raised by these pages. Sadly, now that will never happen." Mike Condren

John Martin Little Rock Contribution
May 20, 1988 photo by Chuck Zeiler, contributed by Joseph Yarbrough

The following is taken from an email written by Steve Forrest who worked with Henry.
" It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Henry Gulhstorf, former Kentucky St operator. When I first started hanging around Ky St, Henry was the night (11p-7a) operator. While I had met Benny Jones, Bill Gray, and Jim Bondurant (as well as all the Frisco operators who used to share the building) it was some time before I ever met Henry. Later when I went to work at Ky St on the extra board, I had the pleasure of working with Henry for many years. I would suspect if you interviewed all the crews that ever came across the bridge on the Cotton Belt, Rock Island, or Missouri Pacific, it would be unanimous that Henry was best who ever worked the job. When he worked third shift (by choice) he often could be found working on TV sets in between copying train orders or lining up moves on the CTC board. One of Henry's hobbies was TV repair, and the relative quietness of third shift provided him time to do this. When Benny Jones, first shift operator passed away in the late 70's, Henry decided to take the first shift job, which he worked until he retired. Henry was offered dispatching jobs by the RI, SSW, and MP, but always favored Ky St, altho I think he once came close to going to the Rock Island office in El Reno, OK. Henry began his career on the Frisco in Missouri, working train order offices all up and down the line between Springfield and Memphis. I can't recall if he ever worked the Briark office (altho Benny, Jim and Bill Gray did), but I don't think he did. Henry was alway good for a railroad story, and with his passing went a lot of great railroad stories and history. He was one of those people who you never heard anything bad about. I remember Rudell Wilson, long time MP MofW foreman, goodnaturedly calling Henry "The Alien" because of his German name. Henry would just smile and call Rudell "Redneck." Great memories for sure.

J. W. Terry Photo, Kyle Matthews Collection
The top photo, and the enlargement, show the Florida Street toward Kentucky Street area in December 25, 1933. Note what appears to be a double slip switch in the enlargement. Also note the crossing watchman sitting outside of his shanty at Kentucky Street. Running in the middle of Kentucky Street is a branch of the Union Railway. The STOP sign is for the Union Railway diamond. Across the street, where the tower that appears elsewhere on this page sat, is a different structure as evidenced by a non-gable end showing, versus the gable end that shows in the closer pictures of the structure featured in these photos.

David Johnston Photo
SSW SD40T-2 eastbound train at Kentucky Street 11-25-75

David Johnston Photo
L&N U28B #2500 on train LNPBY passes Kentucky Street on its westbound trip to Pine Bluff, AR, 5/28/77.

David Johnston Photo
MP local westbound passing Kentucky Street as it leaves the IC South Yard, 10/79.

Photo by David Johnston
MP 3216 on an eastbound train passing Kentucky Street, 1/19/80.

Mike Condren Photo
This car sat at the railfan train watching location of Kansas Ave as shown in the view above. 11/29/80.

John M. Martin Photo
This appears to be a Frisco maintenance train passing the tower at Kentucky Street.

Cotton Belt Direct Traffic Control Warrant for line from West Memphis to Brinkley

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