Date of Service: April 15, 1901
Station Number 126
Depot: 24 x 66 (3rd Depot)
When the Eureka Springs Railroad was completed to Eureka Springs, Harrison pressed for years to have the railroad extended to Harrison. In 1899, the St. Louis & North Arkansas Railroad began construction to Harrison, completing the track into Harrison in March 1901. By the time track reached Harrison plans were already underway to extend the line through Bellefonte, Everton, St. Joe and Marshall to Leslie, Arkansas. The original plan was to build from Leslie on to Little Rock, but those plans changed in the interim to a destination at Helena, Arkansas.
Harrison, which was already a regional trading center, thrived with the arrival of the railroad. Once the railroad was completed to Helena, the railroad management looked at rearranging the operations and maintenance activities of this railroad, whose shops facilities were in the small confines of Leatherwood Valley in Eureka Springs, and could not easily be expanded. Management also decided to split the railroad into three operating divisions, with division points at Harrison and Heber Springs. They offered Leslie and Harrison the opportunity to become the new locations of the maintenance shops and operating headquarters of the railroad. Both Harrison and Leslie bid for the shops, offering incentives and touting the advantages of their locations. Harrison won the competition and this made Harrison the nerve center of the railroad. The new shops, general offices, and operating offices would mean $30,000 1914 dollars in monthly payroll to the city of Harrison.
The railroad erected a new depot near the intersection of Ridge and Olive streets, much closer to the downtown area than the old one. The new facilities included a machine shop, car building and repair shop, powerhouse, plus new locomotive servicing facilities of a roundhouse, turntable, coal, water, ash pit, and sand facilities. The old depot site next to the rail yards became the new operations building, where the train dispatchers, operating superintendents, and engineering personnel were located. The old machine shop and stores building are about all that remain today. The Highway 65 Bypass and intersection with Highway 7 currently occupy the old yards and shop site, and the bypass follows the old M&NA main line from the intersection of Business 65 in west Harrison to the intersection with Business 65 near the Claridge Products plant south of town.
Harrison remained the railroad headquarters throughout the M&NA/M&A history and throughout the life of the A&O Railway that succeeded them. The railroad was a large factor in the growth and prosperity of Harrison and gave it a solid foundation for the city it has become today.
Harrison Shop Complex, looking west. Machine shop, the stores building and the repair shop are still standing and used by Miller Hardware and other businesses.
Roundhouse, turntable and water column at Harrison, looking east. Machine shop building is behind the roundhouse. Locomotives were cleaned, serviced and minor repairs were done here. Taken from on top of a locomotive, with another one just to the right of the water column.
Overall view of shops and yard at Harrison. Operations building is behind the light colored shed to the left. Car repair, machine shop and roundhouse are to the right. Up on the hill in the background was a large concrete reservoir that served as water supply and fire protection for the shops complex. Looking east. Highway 65 Bypass now runs where the tracks to the left are, and crosses Crooked Creek at the same location as the railroad did in former days. Passenger depot is out of the photo to the left, about a quarter of a mile. Present Harrison Chamber of Commerce office is located near where the large tree is shown in the photo.
Aerial view of the Harrison Yard and Shop area during the development of the Highway 65 Bypass. Highway 65 Bypass runs from the bottom left to the upper center of the photo, and has not yet been extended south all the way to the intersection with Highway 65 South. The old railroad bridge girders are still in place over Crooked Creek and the old right-of-way continues south around the hill beyond the creek. The A&O Engine house is in the center of the photo just to the right of the bypass. The old machine shop building, the car repair building, and the old stores building are in the upper center of the photo. Highway 7 joins the bypass in the lower center of the photo.