One of the most ambitious men to exploit the timber trade was Hugh F. McDanield, a railroad builder and tie contractor who had come to Fayetteville along with the Frisco. He bought thousands of acres of land within hauling distance of the railroad and sent out teams of men to cut the timber. By the mid-1880s, after a frenzy of cutting in south Washington County, he turned his gaze to the untapped fortune of timber on the steep hillsides of southeast Washington County and southern Madison County, territory most readily accessed along a wide valley long since leveled by the east fork of White River. Mr. McDanield gathered a group of backers and the state granted a charter September 4, 1886, giving authority to issue capital stock valued at $1.5 million, which was the estimated cost to build a rail line through St. Paul and on to Lewisburg, which was a riverboat town on the Arkansas River near Morrilton. McDanield began surveys while local businessman J. F. Mayes worked with property owners to secure rights of way. 'On December 4, 1886, a switch was installed in the Frisco main line about a mile south of Fayetteville, and the spot was named Fayette Junction.' Within six months, 25 miles of track had been laid east by southeast through Baldwin, Harris, Elkins, Durham, Thompson, Crosses, Delaney, Patrick, Combs, and finally St. Paul. Soon after, in 1887, the Frisco bought the so-called 'Fayetteville and Little Rock' line from McDanield. It was estimated that in the first year McDanield and partners shipped out more than $2, 000, 000 worth of hand-hacked white oak railroad ties at an approximate value of twenty-five cents each. Mills ran day and night as people arrived 'by train, wagon, on horseback, even afoot' to get a piece of the action along the new track, commonly referred to as the 'St. Paul line.' Saloons, hotels, banks, stores, and services from smithing to tailoring sprang up in rail stop communities.
Denele Pitts Campbell
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