Gilbert, AR

Service Date: 1902

Station Number 162

Depot Original - 18 x 52 (1902-1917)
24 x 40 (1917-1945)
Small frame shelter (1945 until abandonment)

Gilbert is the point at which the St. Louis & North Arkansas (later M&NA) first encountered the Buffalo River. The actual crossing of the Buffalo is about two miles downstream from Gilbert. The Buffalo River crossing was a large bridge project which took a considerable amount of construction time. Tracklaying south from Gilbert was delayed for some time until the bridge was completed, and Gilbert became a construction camp for bridgework and stockpiling of track materials for further construction south toward Leslie and Heber Springs. A standard 50,000-gallon water tank fed from Gilbert Spring near the river was installed to service locomotives. A section house for housing track maintenance workers was also located here, along with several tool and storage sheds used by the railroad. Heavy grades extended both directions from Gilbert which took their tool on track conditions, and water use by the steam locomotives often required taking water at Gilbert.

Gilbert was the closest shipping point on the M&NA to mining in the Rush district downstream and also a shipping point for timber harvested in the area. The town was named for Charles W. Gilbert, an official for the Allegheny Construction Company that built the railroad, and later on as an official of the M&NA Railroad.

The town was known as the "coolest town in Arkansas" due to it's temperature often being the lowest in Arkansas in both summer and winter.

The track diagram shows only one double-ended siding at Gilbert, but there were other tracks that were installed and removed as needed, including a wye track to turn locomotives during Gilbert's time as a temporary terminal.

Gilbert Depot, looking geographic east, with a small crowd gathered. Note the piles of railroad ties stacked on both sides of the siding track, which is the track nearest the camera. These were likely awaiting shipment on the railroad. At right is the outhouse, a fixture at all M&NA depots. Few of the depots had running water or indoor plumbing. Photo from Jim Wakefield, museum collection.