Why Coonskins & Buzzsaws?

No model railroad layout claiming to represent Saint Louis in the nineteen-seventies would be complete without including the Saint Louis-San Francisco Railway (FRISCO) and the Missouri Pacific Lines (MOPAC). Because of their shape, Frisco’s emblem was know as the ‘Frisco coonskin‘ and Missouri Pacific’s logo of this era was commonly referred to as the ‘MoPac Buzzsaw“. Here’s a little background on the two.

The Frisco Coonskin Logo

The story goes that sometime in the late 1800s, Mr. G.H. Nettleton, then Vice-President of the KCM&B Railroad (a predecessor of the Frisco) was on a train that pulled in to the railroad’s station in Neosho, Mo. Mr. Nettleton’s car came to a stop in view of a drying coon hide tacked to the side of the station. The hide was purchased from the station agent and not long afterward, an ink outline of the tightly stretched coon hide turned horizontally began to appear.

A photograph of the original coon skin.
A photograph of the original coon skin that inspired the Frisco Logo.
Modern Frisco Coonskin-Inspired Logo

For more information on the above story, visit this site maintained by Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Missouri Pacific Buzzsaw

While MoPac did not start adding the small buzzsaw logo with the “Missouri Pacific Lines” to its equipment until around 1926, this sticker from the Saint Louis World’s Fair of 1904 illustrates that the design was introduced much earlier.

An online search for information on the origin and history of the buzzsaw logo came up empty. From its early beginnings, the predecessor railroads that came to make up the Missouri Pacific Lines would have built track through a lot of Ozark forestland. Perhaps the many sawmills they probably served influenced the emblem’s buzzsaw outline.

Early version of the MoPac buzzsaw logo.
MoPac logo introduced in the mid-1970s.
Buzzsaw design most familiar to railfans of the mid-20th century.

For more MoPac history, visit the website of the Missouri Pacific Historical Society.

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