Mike Condren Memoir

Railroad Historian

One of the many hats that I wear is that of a Railroad Historian. I host an extensive collection of historical railroad pages.

I wrote the "Fallen Flag Remembered" feature for Spring 2001 Classic Trains concerning the Frisco Railroad. The March 2001 issue of Trains editor Dave Ingles described me as "Mike Condren bows to few others on matters Frisco, ....". I have also contributed the historical research for the "Bird's Eye View" features for Summer 2005 Classic Trains concerning Memphis Central Station, the xxx issue of Classic Trains concerning Springfield West Shops and the Summer 2013 issue of Classic Trains concerning Frisco varnish southwest of Tulsa. I host an extensive collection of material concerning the Frisco Railroad including scans of many of my photos. My photos were used by Walthers to produce an authentic paint scheme for their N-scale RS-2s in black & yellow paint. Walthers also used my photos in the production of their FM H1044s in Frisco's black & yellow and mandarin orange and white paint schemes. On August 28, 2010, I spoke to the Indian Nations Chapter of the National Model Railroaders Assoication on the last 20 years of the Frisco, Frisco: The Last 20 Years. I spoke to the Railroad Day at the Three Rivers Museum in Muskogee, OK on May 14, 2011 and the Boston Mountain Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society on March 17, 2011 in Springdale, AR concerning the Ozark & Cherokee Central/Frisco Muskogee Branch. I spoke to the Frisco Convention in Springfield, MO on Sept. 17, 2011 concerning the West Shops.

My web site hosts the Muskogee Roads Historical & Technical Society, described as the first "virtual historical society" in Trains magazine. I spoke at the Missouri Pacific Historical Society meeting in Texarkana, AR on Oct. 8, 2011 concerning the Muskogee Roads and the Indian Nations Division NMRA Tulsa, OK Nov. 19, 2011. I spoke at Railroad Day at the Three Rivers Museum in Muskogee, OK on May 11, 2013 concerning the "Muskogee Roads".

My web site also hosts the Memphis Historical Railroad Pages and Ft. Smith/Van Buren Historical Railroad Pages.

My first photos were published in the August 1979 issue of Trains helping to illustrate "The Kansas City Southern Railroad - 1 -The railroad that unraveled - Super Trains vs. superannated track". My color slides were reporduced in black and white in the magazine. The November 1987 issue of Trains contained 13 of my photos reproduced in color covering the news story of the filming of the movie "Beloxi Blues" and the feature "Alcos in Arkansas" covering the Arkansas and Missouri and its predicesor the Frisco Central Division.

During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, I served as the editor for the Arkansas & Missouri Railway for CTC Board magazine. I documented the rebuilding in-house of the A&M's C420 #60 during my University of Arkansas sabbatical during the Fall 1988 semester. I photographed the official party at the christening and then rode the first trip of this engine from Springdale to Chester, AR.

During the late 1980s I partnered with Frank Bryan to convert his Apple II "Engine" diesel locomotive simulator to run on the Commodore 64. Engine 64 was marketed through the "Computer Software" of Kalmbach's Railroad Book Mart in Trains magazine. Engine 64 had sound effects which the Apple versions did not have. Copies of this software were shipped to all continents except Antartica.

I contributed the Kansas Street of Memphis and the Hoxie, AR "Hot Spots" book published by Kalmbach Publishing. contributed the Kansas Street of Memphis and Tulsa Cherokee Yard "Hot Spots" to the second edition of the "Hot Spots" book, including the photo for the Wagoner, OK "Hot Spot".

Several of my photos have been published in Trains magazine since 1979 including the following:

Since moving to Tahlequah, OK, I have begun researching the rail lines planned or constructed through here. The Ozark & Cherokee Central was constructed beginning in 1901. It became a branch of the Frisco system shortly after reaching Okmulgee, OK. The portion from Fayetteville, AR through Tahlequah to the dam of Lake Ft. Gibson, OK was dismantled in 1942. The bridge over the Arkansas River was removed as part of the Kerr/McClellan Navigation Project in the late 1960s. The line from Muskogee to Okmulgee, OK was removed in 1973. The portion of the line from the Missouri Pacific/Union Pacific connection in Ft. Gibson, OK to the east bank of the Arkansas River is currently in use by unit coal trains serving the Muskogee Power Plant of the Oklahoma Gas & Electric. The local track in Muskogee became part of the Burlington Northern when the Frisco merged into that system. This disconnected part of the BNSF is served by turning the interchange cars over to the Union Pacific in Muskogee. The cars are then hauled to Tulsa by the UP where they are interchanged to the BNSF near the former Tulsa Union Depot.

This page was designed and is maintained by Mike Condren. If you have materials
that you would like to contribute, contact me at mcondren@cbu.edu