Does the number 1522 mean anything to you?
Trains have always been important to Cuba, Missouri history as the old scrapbook pages above show. The town was founded and platted in 1857 in anticipation of the arrival of the Southern Branch of the Pacific Railroad in 1859-60.
During WW II the Blue Bonnet Train took soldiers to and from the war, a scene which is commemorated in the Gold Star Boys Mural.
The Salem Branch of the Railroad ran from Cuba to Viburnum and was called the Salem Dinky because of its small size. It has been commemorated in a 1873 Train Replica in the Viva Cuba Garden.
A train that locals called The Plug ran from Cuba to St. Louis and often took Cubans into the city for shopping or business.
The Frisco 1522 steam train was a popular model that transported passengers and frieght on the rails. Built in 1926, it was retired then restored as an exhibition train until it was retired a final time in 2002.
Many grew up in Cuba within sight and sound of the trains. Some made their living on the rails. John Watson of Frisco’s Restaurant, and his father before him, worked for the railraod. Because of the family’s love for the railroad, when John’s wife Virginia opened her restaurant along the train tracks in Cuba, it was named Frisco’s and filled with train photos and memorabilia.
John’s wife Virginia had a particualr desire for the phone number 1522 after the famous Frisco train. There was just one problem. In the early days, the number was held by the Route 66 Cafe in Cuba. When the cafe closed its doors, Virginia wasted no time in contacting the phone company and expressing her desire for the 1522 phone number. She was told that it was policy to wait six months before the number could be used again. But Virginia was persistent and snagged the 1522 phone number. “I just kind of kept whining about it until they gave it up,” she laughs now.
Then when Frisco’s website was designed, she used the 1522 numbers again. You can get on board the website at www.friscos1522.com. And when she commissioned artist Shelly Smith Steiger to paint a mural-style sign for her business, she used the steam train image on her sign.
The 1522 steam train is retired now, but it is not forgotten. See of the video of the old train’s final run from St. Louis to Newburg, Missouri and listen to the sound of a famous train as it says goodby to the towns and people along its route.
Visit Frisco’s Grill & Pub to see the many photos and train artifacts of the nearby railroad. If you are lucky, John or his dad may be on hand to tell you some stories. And if you want to phone for a reservation, you know the number.