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Railroads into Greenwood: Where the tracks end and politics begins!

Professor Mike Condren and Greenwood Author John Dill presented “Railroads of South Sebastian County” to the Historical Society Monday evening.

Professor Mike Condren and Greenwood Author John Dill presented “Railroads of South Sebastian County” to the Historical Society Monday evening.

A packed house at the South Sebastian County Historical Society meeting on Monday evening enjoyed a presentation by Professor Emeritus Mike Condren and Greenwood’s John Dill about the railroads that took thousands of carloads of coal out of South Sebastian County in the decades surrounding the turn of the last century.

Condren, a “Railroad Historian” hails from a very old Greenwood area family with many ties to the area still. He is a retired Chemistry professor whose pursuits include his interest in trains and his extensive knowledge of the history of the railroad industry. Dill, who grew up in Greenwood, has authored the definitive work on the coal mining industry in the region. Together, their remarks and slide presentation included factual accounts and anecdotal coverage of the trains that came here and left with coal.

Of particular interest was the fact that the trains did not go through Greenwood to anywhere else. The depots here sold passenger tickets to nearby communities and to connecting routes from other places, but, the interest in Greenwood at that time was coal and only coal. Condren explained the interconnectivity of the lines and the corporate history of the various routes. Dill’s remarks included bits of little known history including a visit to Greenwood and Jenny Lind by railroad magnate Jay Gould.

Jenny Lind Railroad Depot before 1908.

Jenny Lind Railroad Depot before 1908.

In addition to the large turnout of Society members, the meeting was attended by railroad historians and several guests including a group from Greenwood’s Boy Scouts Troop #54.

The meetings are open to the public. Guests are welcome and refreshments and conversation follow each meeting on the third Monday of each month at the Farmers Bank.

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