Rock Island Railroad Overpasses

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For almost 80 years, the South Robinson Street Railroad Bridge that passed under the Rock Island and Frisco Railroad tracks leading into Oklahoma City’s Union Station proudly displayed their respective railroad heralds to passing motorists below.

Oklahoma City’s Union Station was completed on July 15, 1931 and faithfully served those that passed through its gates for the next 36 years.
The Rock Island’s Cherokee, a Memphis to Amarillo passenger and Rail Post Office consist, was the last train to serve OKC’s Union Station.

The Robinson Street Bridge, located approximately a half mile east of Union Station, handled thousands of passenger trains during the passenger era, including the Frisco’s Firefly and Meteor and Rock Island’s Choctaw Rocket and Cherokee……. the latter being the last passenger train to depart Union Station in November, 1967.

The Robinson Street Bridge continued to remain in service to accommodate the freight trains of the Frisco (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe) and the Rock Island (now the Union Pacific). With the present realignment and construction of the city’s I-40 Crosstown Expressway, the Robinson Street Bridge was scheduled for demolition in 2010, and along with it the historic railroad heralds of the Rock Island and Frisco Railroads.

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In order to save these beautiful historic railroad heralds, Retro Metro OKC, a newly established historical organization for Central Oklahoma, sprang into action to prevent there destruction.

Working closely with the Oklahoma History Society, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Railway Museum and the I-40 relocation contractors, Retro Metro OKC was able to coordinate and save the railroad heralds.

Logo removal started August 26, 2010 and was done by Gary’s Concrete Sawing of Norman, with actual removal taking two days to accomplish. Each concrete herald measured 22″ in thickness, 5’8″ in length, 4’8″ in height and weighing over 4 tons.

The heralds were delivered to the Oklahoma Railway Museum in Oklahoma City where they will be properly and permanently displayed along with a description of what they once represented to the rail history of Oklahoma City. The project marks the start of a partnership between Retro Metro OKC and the Oklahoma Railway Museum that will in the future include the preservation of numerous photos, documents and blueprints.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a great example of Retro Metro Oklahoma City working closely with other state agencies, contractors and the Oklahoma Railway Museum in saving and displaying a key part of Oklahoma City’s rail history.

    Railroads were responsible for the location of Oklahoma City when the Santa Fe located a small outpost of a station in 1887…… two years prior to our city’s founding on April 22, 1889.

    The Rock Island, Frisco and Katy Railroads soon followed. These four railroads contributed mightily in forging the early growth of Oklahoma City, including the warehouse district that we now know as Bricktown.

    It is fitting that a major part of our city’s rail history is now preserved for all time in the saving of the Rock Island and Frisco railroads heralds.

    Many thanks to the Oklahoma History Center, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the I-40 Contractors and the Oklahoma Railroad Museum in working closely with Retro Metro Oklahoma City in making this happen.

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