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Flamboyant railroad and town promoter dies


On this day in 1928, the flamboyant railroad and town promoter Arthur Stilwell died in New York City. Stilwell, born in Rochester, New York, in 1859, moved to Kansas City in 1886. His first major project was a railway south from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico. The original terminal point was Sabine Pass, Texas, but Stilwell formed a syndicate that founded the town of Port Arthur. Stilwell drove the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later Kansas City Southern) south from Kansas City to Port Arthur in 1897. From 1900 until 1912 Stilwell constructed the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway from Wichita, Kansas, south through Oklahoma to San Angelo and eventually to Alpine, Texas. The Mexican Revolution and a lack of traffic led to bankruptcy for the railway, and Stilwell was forced out of his firm. Stilwell blamed the "Cannibals of Wall Street," and John W. Gates in particular, for his losses, and wrote several books on finance and world affairs. He then published novels, poems, and stories alleging that the ideas for his railways and Port Arthur came to him from "brownies."

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