Source: The Handbook of Texas Online
AND WESTERN RAILROAD
The Enid, Ochiltree and Western Railroad
represents an unsuccessful attempt by the people
of Ochiltree County to secure a railroad through
the town of Ochiltree, then the county seat.
Although three major lines crossed the Panhandle
by 1908, none ran directly west from Oklahoma
across the counties north of the Canadian River.
The lack of rail service necessitated long trips
by area farmers and ranchers to the nearest rail
towns to market their produce. Lynch Dodson, a
farmer who lived near Ochiltree, met with state
railroad commissioner O. B. Colquitt at Austin in
February 1908. Dodson then contacted A. E. Wiest,
the chief promoter of the American Engineering
Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, who agreed to
come and inspect the terrain.
Meanwhile, Dodson secured the backing of several
influential local residents, including James H.
Whippo, J. B. (Pop) Cartwright, and county judge
George M. Perry. Wiest arrived on April 21, and
for two months he and the Ochiltree County
citizens worked to promote the railroad, secure
stock certificates, and enlist potential
The Enid, Ochiltree and Western Railroad Company
held its first meeting on June 11, with Judge
Perry as president, Cartwright as secretary, W. B.
Slaughter as treasurer, and Wiest as vice
president and general manager. Hamlin Palmer, a
freight agent for the Santa Fe line, was later
recruited as assistant secretary. The citizens of
Dalhart also agreed to help finance the project.
By the spring of 1909 the proposed route had been
surveyedfor 113 miles from Dalhart to Ochiltree,
rights-of-way secured, and work begun on the
roadbed. Proposed townsites such as Wilcoe,
Orofino, Victor, and Jarvis were platted. On
August 14 a building contract was signed with the
Panhandle Construction Company. On September 23 W.
D. Wagner, the mayor of Dalhart, drove the first
spike during a gala celebration held at Dalhart.
Soon, plans were made and permission secured to
extend the proposed route via Enid to Oklahoma
As construction progressed a small locomotive,
piloted by J. M. (Johnny) McChord and dubbed Old
Steamboat, was purchased from the Southern Iron
and Equipment Company of Atlanta, Georgia. When
the EO&W failed to make its monthly payments
to the Panhandle Construction Company in the
summer of 1910, however, the Railway Audit and
Inspection Company was brought in to inspect the
Federal judgments were rendered against the
EO&W properties for $9,000 and $14,000.
Several factors contributed to the company's
failure. Not all of the firm's $500,000 capital
stock had been subscribed. Wiest had violated
state law as well as the EO&W's own rules by
signing over, endorsing, and selling promissory
notes. And a prolonged drought in 1910-11 kept
many well-intentioned farmers and small
businessmen from fulfilling their subscriptions.
Consequently, on December 22, 1910, the EO&W
went into the hands of Judge H. G. Hendricks, who
had been designated receiver by the Eighth
Judicial District Court at Dalhart. Wiest
surrendered his power of attorney on February 11,
1911, and disappeared from the scene. Construction
stopped with only the grade to Dumas completed and
less than fourteen miles of track laid out of
On June 11, 1912, C. A. Vawter and O. J. McKnight
of Dalhart purchased the EO&W properties for
$33,000; Old Steamboat was shipped back to
Atlanta. Several lawsuits were filed against the
EO&W, and in the fall of 1917 its properties
were sold. The failure of the EO&W led to the
eventual abandonment of the Ochiltree and Hansford
townsites after Perryton and Spearman were founded
on the North Texas and Santa Fe line in 1919.
Dumas was left without a railroad connection until
1931. Remnants of the unfinished railroad may
still be seen between Dumas and Dalhart.
Carrie Whippo Correll and Spencer P. Whippo,
"Enid, Ochiltree and Western Railroad," Panhandle-Plains
Historical Review 33
(1960). Wheatheart of the
Plains: An Early History of Ochiltree County
(Perryton, Texas: Ochiltree County Historical
Survey Committee, 1969). H.
was last updated January 9, 2014.