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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
ENGINEMAN MADE MAYOR OF ELMER
But Ben Blackledge Continues to Pilot Mixed Train on Iowa and St. L.
Ben Blackledge, engineman on the Iowa & St. Louis railroad, was chosen mayor of Elmer at the recen election. But he has not let the honor go to his head – he still pilots the mixed train on the regular run from Elmer to Sedan – 53 miles – every day and comes in on time.
Ben has long been an institution of Elmer. Everybody up there knows him and thinks the world and all of him. Ben has been on the road as engineman almost as long as it has been serving the public in the Chariton valley. He has gone through floods and storms and has always brought his train in.
The Iowa & St. Louis road crosses the Chariton river on 16 bridges, which means that Ben and his train have to cross the river 32 times daily. Time was, when the Chariton was on a rampage, that was a serious thing to do, because in the early days the bridges were not as strong as they are now.
Some meanly disposed person once christened Ben’s train “The Cold Molasses Flyer”, and the train master at Novinger got awfully mad about it and threatened to sue somebody or to punch his head. But they don’t use that term any more. They have a good roadbed up there, and the train hist the schedule on time. We have tried awfully hard to get the fellows who own it to build the road down from Elmer to Macon, but they can’t see it that way. They say the buzzwagon has cut in so badly on their business they can’t afford to give it any more elbow room in which to stretch out.
The train leaves Elmer in the early morning hours, goes through Gifford, Yarrow, where Mike Webber has his 50-year-old watermill; Novinger, the division point, and also through Connelisville, and the gread coal region of Adair county, and a few other places until it reaches Sedan, the northern terminal, where there is a Y on which Ben turns his engine around.
The train carries stock, farm products, coal and passengers. It is pretty well patronized and is a good feeder for the main line.