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When the railroad running through the Bowling Green Prairie was first constructed, it was named the Toledo, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad. It was a part of the narrow-gauge trunk line connecting Lake Erie with the Rio Grande River. The TC & STL was the combination of several branch lines from Toledo, Ohio to Laredo, Texas and was referred to as "The Little Giant". It was probably the longest narrow-gauge road in the country.

The road was built in sections. On September 22, 1882, gandy dancers spiked down the track reaching Mitchell's Creek from the east. By the end of September 1882, the tracks reached Beck's Creek. The Beck's Creek trestle was completed October 1882, and the tracks were connected with the section being completed east from Ramsey.

Tony Herrick donated land for the right-of-way and built a depot for the TC & STL Railroad. In 1883 the town of New London moved to the vicinity of the depot and became the town of Herrick.

June 12, 1886, three companies, including TC & STL, merged forming the Toledo, St. Louis and Kansas City Railroad. They adopted a white clover as their emblem, hence the name Clover Leaf Road. Several Herrick residents can remember their grandparents tell of the time the road was changed from narrow-gauge to standard-gauge track. The story goes, all available men along the line were hired, and one rail was moved over from one end of a division to the other in one day. On May 31, 1889, the Clover Leaf operated its last narrow-gauge train.

The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate) bought the Clover Leaf in March of 1922. The division going through Herrick was known as the Clover Leaf Division of the Nickel Plate Road.

Searching through old railroad and American Express ledgers found in Herrick depot, it was determined the agent in Herrick in September 1883, was C. Ross. Others were Lee Askins in 1885, G. W. Hugger in 1886, and W. F. Kessinger in 1888. Later agents were Sam Heady and Homer Stafford. John W. Jones was the last agent at Herrick. Wm. S. "Bill Wildy" Frailey was one of the early section bosses.

In the early days people were very dependent on the railroad, as the drift roads were not always passable in bad weather. Salesmen traveled from town to town, and several businesses shipped their products by rail. A large amount of hay was shipped from Herrick, and also flour from the mill. People also depended on the in-bound freight for supplies. Later the grain elevator was a large shipper, as were several dog kennels.

There were six passenger trains that went through Herrick daily. "The Commercial Traveler", a fast passenger, the "Noon Train" and "The Plug". Each went west in the morning and east in the evening. The "Commercial" was the result of a decision to upgrade existing night trains in anticipation of the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, New York in 1901. It was well patronized and became famous. It ran between Toledo and St. Louis for half a century. The "Noon Train" was discontinued. The "Plug" was a slower train and sometimes served as local. It was made up of the engine, perhaps a box car or two, the express car and a passenger car. One end of the express car was partitioned for the mail. Dogs were shipped by express, for they had to be fed, watered, and kept warm.

The railroad was an important factor in the lives of the people of Herrick for many years. Many men and women worked as agents, telegraph operators, section hands, bridge and fence gang hands, track foremen, road masters, cooks, engineers, etc.

At one time the railroad was instrumental in saving a major portion of the town. The block building north of the tracks caught fire in the night, and the fire spread through several buildings. All efforts to control the fire were coming to naught, for the wells were pumped dry. A westbound freight was due. Telegrapher Jones suggested they stop the freight and use the water from its tender. Agent Stafford concurred and Jones flagged the train. Water was pumped from the train and the fire was extinguished.

In the 1960's the Nickel Plate merged with the Wabash and the Norfolk and Western. The Herrick depot was operated on a part-time basis for a while. In 1973 the depot was closed and torn down. The whistle of an occasional freight keeps memories alive.

Train Workers
Workers on the Toledo, St. Louis and Western Railroad were L. to R., Nolan Logue, Sam Nowlin, and Bill W. Frailey.

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