RSM Newsprint Train - Spring 2004

In the spring of 2004, I came across Railroad Switching Services of Missouri's (RSM) newsprint train, which delivered boxcars of newsprint to the St. Louis Post Dispatch in downtown St. Louis. This switching operation utilized the Illinois Traction System's (ITS) former high-line bridge in North St. Louis, as well as the ITS' old subway tunnel under the northern edge of downtown. I was lucky to come across this operation and capture the few images that I did because a few months after I took these images, the delivery of newsprint to the Post Dispatch ended in June 2004. I was able to photograph the RSSM's newsprint delivery operation on a couple of different days, but the below photographs are from only one of those days.

RSM 2020 at Branch Street
In the first image, above, RSM 2020 shoves a pair of empty boxcars south from Branch Street. The crew would set out the empty boxcars at the southern end of this small rail yard, and then pickup two loaded boxcars of newsprint, one of which can be seen in the distance on the left track. On the left side of the image the approach to the old ITS high-line bridge can be seen. The old catenary supports are still on the bridge. The ITS was originally an electrified railroad.

RSM 2020 backing up the McKinley Bridge approach at Branch Street
After picking up the two loaded boxcars of newsprint, RSM 2020 makes a back-up move up the old ITS approach to the McKinley Bridge. After backing up the approach a short distance, past the switch, the train would then pull forward down the track on the right side to head to the high-line bridge over north St. Louis. In this photograph that I took in 2008, you can seen the approach during its conversion into a walking/biking trail. By 2008, all of the rail on the high-line bridge and the approach had been removed.

RSM 2020 on the old ITS highline bridge
Now on the high-line bridge, the train is rounding the curve near North 9th Street, between North Market Street and Monroe Street. The tractor trailers seen here are on the property of Duke Manufacturing. The bridge crosses over a number of business properties in north St. Louis. The bridge originally allowed ITS passenger trains to gain access to the ITS train station in downtown St. Louis. The station was in the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper building at 710 North Tucker Boulevard. In 2012, I took a photograph from almost the same spot as this image, but the photograph shows a wider view of the bridge.

RSM 2020 on the old ITS highline bridge along I-70
After rolling through the curve at North 9th Street and Monroe Street, the train is rolling along side Interstate 70, at the intersection of Chambers Street and North 10th street. In the upper right corner of the photograph the Moon is visible. The block signal on the far left of the bridge is the block signal that you can see in the photograph (linked to above) that I took in 2012.

RSM 2020 crossing over Interstate 70
Above, the train is crossing over Intestate 70, as traffic on the eastbound lanes into downtown starts to back up.

RSM 2020 at Hadley Street
In the above and below photographs, RSM 2020 and its train have left the high-line bridge, and are coming down to grade at Hadley Street and Howard Street.

RSM 2020 approaching Hadley Street

Newsprint train rolling south on Hadley Street
Above, the newsprint train rolls south down Hadley Street, toward Cass Avenue, on a short section of street trackage. This image is looking south from the intersection with Howard Street.

RSM newsprint train entering the old ITS subway tunnel.
In the last image of this series, the train has crossed over Cass Avenue and is heading down toward the entrance to the old ITS tunnel under northern edge of downtown St. Louis. The tunnel ran from this entrance at Cass Avenue to the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper building. As mentioned earlier, the old Globe-Democrat building was originally the ITS passenger station in downtown St. Louis. The St. Louis Post Dispatch building is a couple of blocks north of the old Globe/ITS station building.

According a comment written by one of the train's crew on January 18, 2013, at this link, the last newsprint train operated in June 2004. The link also contains a map showing the route the trains took from Branch Street to the Post Dispatch facility.

All of these images were captured on 35mm transparency film and scanned in 2004, on a Nikon Super CoolScan 9000 ED.

Post updated 2019-Oct.-04.


  1. Those tracks in the last picture as it entered the tunnel sure don't look like they get used much!. Maybe by just this one train??

    1. Jim, indeed, the newsprint delivery train was the only train that was using this line at the time. However, I am not sure how often the train ran. I think it was only a couple of times a week, at most, but I'm not positive on that.

  2. Great images to remember this operation with. Good that you were able to capture them all and document it before it ended. I find it amazing how quickly it goes from total city to wooded area. That tunnel looks interesting. I love tunnels. :-) Great history post and thanks for all the details

    1. Thanks a lot, Shelly. I'm glad I was able to capture this rail switching operation a couple of times. Especially, since it ended shortly after. I would have loved to have been able to go into that tunnel and see what it was like. However, for various reasons, it wouldn't really have been safe to do.

      I was also able to photograph the K.C. Star having newsprint delivered by rail in 2005. I need to rework most of those as well and post them. Glad to have caught the KC operation as well since it ended shortly after I photograph it. I'm beginning to think I'm bad luck for trains that deliver newsprint.


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