A passenger on a train riding through the swampy woodlands of Southeast Missouri would suddenly hear the conductor cry out, “Look out, she’s going to jump!” And in a minute the train ‘would’ jump! It was because the builder of the railroad had felled two trees and laid them across a small creek south of Benton instead of building a regular bridge. The train would have to rise suddenly as the rails bent upward to get onto that bridge. It was just one of the many projects of Louis Houck, the “Empire Builder of Southeast Missouri.”

AOWM – April 1