The Gateway Western Railway

While the Gateway Western Railway name may seem like a classic line that dates back to the 19th century the company was actually a relatively recent creation which dates back only to 1990. The earliest, recent history of the property was the Chicago, Missouri & Western Railway formed in the late 1980s through redundant trackage between St. Louis and Kansas sold off by then Illinois Central Gulf. The CM&W quickly, folded however which saw the Santa Fe come in, purchase the property, and establish its own subsidiary to operate the route with an interestingly attractive but simple paint scheme. During the AT&SF tenure the GWWR predominantly carried high profit traffic, point to point between the two cities. With the Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger in the mid-1990s the line was no longer needed and sold to the Kansas City Southern. Today, the KCS continues to use the GWWR as a vital link within its system and still subletters equipment in the railroad's name.

GP38 #2044 works the yard at Kansas City, Missouri on January 20, 1995.

The Gateway Western has a catchy name that makes it seem like it's a company which has been around for many years. Heck, I myself thought that it was a classic fallen flag until reading up on the actual history of the line. The earliest predecessor to the route was the Kansas City, St. Louis & Chicago Railroad, a Chicago & Alton Railway subsidiary by 1879 to give that road a connection into Kansas City. The C&A, or simply the Alton Railroad as it is commonly known, operated the route for many years, along with its connection to Chicago although surprisingly the KCStL&C had trouble sustaining profitability. In 1931 the C&A was purchased by eastern trunk line Baltimore & Ohio which hoped to use its Kansas City connection as leverage against its major competitors (the Pennsylvania and New York Central) since it would open an additional gateway with western carriers like the Rock Island, Missouri Pacific, St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco), and others.

Unfortunately, the B&O's hopes never materialized, even after going so far as debuting a new streamliner, the Abraham Lincoln on the route. On May 31, 1947 the property was sold to the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, a line formed in 1938 through the merger of the Gulf, Mobile & Northern and Mobile & Ohio. In 1972 the GM&O merged with the Illinois Central which briefly formed the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, a line that never saw a particularly high level of success considering both properties paralleled one another in several locations. By the 1980s the ICG began selling off thousands of miles of its property in an attempt to stop the red ink and again return to a level of profitability. The former C&A main line between Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City was one attempt at doing so, creating the Chicago, Missouri & Western Railway on April 28, 1987.

An SW1200 lays over at the yard in Kansas City on January 21, 1995.

The new CM&W was 633 miles in length making it an instant Class II, regional. However, the railroad quickly fell onto hard times not so much because it could not turn a profit but the fact that the owners paid too much for the property and could not meet loan payments. During its operations the CM&W had a myriad of freight traffic from interchanges with virtually every Class I of the day as well as intermodal/TOFC service and even hosted Amtrak's St. Louis to Chicago operations, which were still known as the Abraham Lincoln (today it is known simply as the "Lincoln Service"). After just two years the CM&W was in over its head and declared bankruptcy. Naturally, its lines were quite attractive and were purchased by two railroads; the Southern Pacific picked up the route between Chicago and St. Louis through its Cotton Belt subsidiary (today owned by Union Pacific) while the Santa Fe purchased the Kansas City to St. Louis.

This new line became known as the Gateway Western Railway and officially began service on January 9, 1990 (the SP's route was purchased on April 28, 1987). Under the AT&SF the GWRR saw prodigious numbers of intermodal traffic moving over its rails towards St. Louis via the parent's connection at Kansas City (by the 1990s the Santa Fe was moving more and more containers of its Chicago - Los Angeles main line). Perhaps most fascinating about the regional was that even at its late date of startup, the Santa Fe chose to give the carrier a separate paint scheme, which was a classy but simple gold and yellow. In any event, after operating for just five years the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad merger of 1995 spelled the end for the railroad.

A GWWR GP40 assists a train through Granite City, Illinois on December 10, 1995.

With a former Burlington Northern route (the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, or Frisco) already reaching St. Louis, the new BNSF no longer needed a secondary line and sold the GWWR to the Kansas City Southern Railway on May 5, 1997. It completed its purchase in 2001 but today still retains it as a separate entity with some units sporting the standard KCS grey and yellow with "GWWR" in big red letters on the long hood. For power, the railroad actually operated a rather substantial fleet consisting of numerous EMD switchers and four-axle road switchers, mostly GP38s and GP40s.

Diesel Locomotive Roster

Builder Model Type Road Number Notes Quantity
EMDSW12001201-1204Ex-Kansas City Terminal4
EMDSW15001500-1507Ex-P&LE8
EMDMP15AC1510Ex-Kansas City Terminal1
EMDGP382000-2047Ex-Penn Central48
EMDGP38AC2048Ex-ICG1
EMDGP403000-3025Ex-WP26


An SW1200 takes a break at the yard in Kansas City on January 20, 1995.

For more reading on the Santa Fe you might want to consider Santa Fe Railway from Steve Glischinski. Of course, being that the Santa Fe is our country's most legendary railroad hundreds of publications (many quite good) have been written about it over the years detailing various subjects. However, this book will at least give you a general overview and history of the Santa Fe (filled with many, excellent, historical and colorful photographs) at which point you can decide if you are interested in further books of study on the railroad. Even if you are a historian of the ATSF and have not seen this book I'm sure you will enjoy it! If you're interested in perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.

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