The Missouri Pacific Railroad, Route of the Eagles


The Missouri Pacific Railroad, better known by railroaders and railfans as the “MoPac,” was never a strong company financially but it was always a fighter. The railroad was the first to be built west of the Mississippi River and would eventually come under the Jay Gould empire, who owned scores of railroads in the 19th century. The railroad is also well remembered for its beautiful paint scheme of blue and gray with an eagle adorning the flanks of locomotives. The MP, like many now-fallen flags, was actually a hodgepodge of over smaller railroads put together throughout the years, even after the MP name was born. The MoPac's original predecessor was the Pacific Railroad, chartered in 1849 by the state of Missouri to connect St. Louis with the Missouri River. Construction on the railroad began just three years later but due to the topography (which was quite rugged west of St. Louis) and the Civil War it was not able to reach present-day Kansas City until 1865.

Three MoPac locomotives are assisted by an ICG GP10 as they hustle a freight through Gurdon, Arkansas on September 23, 1983. By this date the MoPac was a subsidiary of the Union Pacific.

The Pacific Railroad, however, struggled after completing its original main line and was leased by the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in 1872, which would later come under the control of Jay Gould after it defaulted, and the mogul purchased controlling interest in the company. Gould would in turn reorganize all of the railroads into simply the Missouri Pacific, which would quickly stretch throughout the west with acquisitions in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. After Gould was also able to snatch up a somewhat parallel route of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern the MoPac stretched into Texas.

By also owning the Texas & Pacific the MP reached nearly all of Texas’s major cities and by the early 20th century it had stretched across 11 Midwestern and Western states from New Orleans and Memphis to Denver, Colorado and El Paso, Texas. For all of the railroad’s mileage and size this did not necessarily turn into substantial profits and earnings. Between its earliest beginnings and the mid-1950s the railroad witnessed over a half-dozen bankruptcies and reorganizations (the final one being in 1956).  Perhaps most interesting about the MoPac was that for the railroad’s large size, over 11,000 miles before it vanished as an independent entity, it would not own a direct line into Chicago until the late 1960s when it acquired the Chicago & Eastern Illinois. For all of these drawbacks, however, the railroad was beloved wherever it went and its famous eagle emblem, especially emblazoned on its fleet of Eagle passenger trains, was instantly recognized.

The MoPac’s fleet of passenger trains are also well remembered. The railroad operated a significant number of popular trains but perhaps is most renowned for its fleet of Eagles; the Aztec Eagle, Colorado Eagle, Missouri River Eagle, Valley Eagle, Louisiana Eagle, and most famous of all the Texas Eagle. These trains and others reached across all stretches of the system but like most other Class I railroads many had been downgraded or discontinued altogether by the 1960s. Even the MoPac’s famous Texas Eagle was reduced to a coach-only operation by the very early 1970s, although Amtrak revived the train and continues to operate it today.

Being that the railroad was always short on cash the Missouri Pacific was constantly looking for ways to cut costs. With the advent of diesel power and the efficiencies it provided the MP was quick to purchase the new motive power and had completely dieselized by 1953. Likewise, the railroad ended the beautiful blue and gray passenger livery in the 1960s instead opting for a much simpler solid blue with white trim although locomotives continued to adorn an adaptation of the MoPac’s famous eagle. Interestingly for railfans the railroad purchased a wide variety of early diesel locomotives from Geeps (EMDs) to the handsome Alco PAs although it would eventually settle on EMDs for its second-generation diesels.

A side-profile of MoPac SD40 #3071 as the unit lays over at the yard in Dolton, Illinois on April 3, 1977.

Due to the railroad’s financial situation it is not surprising that it would be purchased by another railroad, which happened in 1982 when the Union Pacific merged the railroad into its system. Interestingly when the UP purchased the MoPac the latter was much larger in both terms of route miles and locomotives. Similarly, for years the MoPac name continued to flank locomotives albeit in the Armour Yellow and Gray of Union Pacific, and the MoPac’s corporate identity was not officially dissolved until as late as 1997.

Diesel Locomotive Roster

The American Locomotive Company

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
S13-4, 9007-9008, 9013-90151940-19477
S211-14, 9107-9116, 9128-91321941-194919
RS221-23, 611948-19494
RS319-20, 24, 62-74, 4501-45261951-195542
FA-1301-3301948-195030
FB-1301B-310B, 321B-325B1948-195015
FA-2331-360, 374-3861951-195443
FB-2331B-356B, 370B-386B1951-195433
FPA-2361-373, 387-3921952-195418
RS114601-4612195912
PA-18001-800819498
PA-28009-80361950-195228
HH-1000910219391

MoPac B23-7 #4606 zips by a rebuilt Santa Fe GP7u (#2198) as the fireman leans out the window to grab train orders from the station at Alvin, Texas during September of 1980.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
DR-4-4-1500 (Babyface)201A-208A19488
DR-4-4-1500 (B)201B-204B19484
DRS-4-4-15004112-411519494
AS164195-4196, 4326-43311951-19548
VO-6609009-9010, 9012, 9022, 9090-9091, 92061940-19417
VO-10009103, 9117-9119, 9150-9155, 9160-9161, 9198-91991939-194914
DS-4-4-10009120-9127, 9133-9141, 9148-9149, 9162-91671948-195025
S129200-92391951-195340

A MoPac Class MK-63 2-8-2 #1246 is seen here working a freight extra through the yard at Jefferson City, Missouri on June 10, 1933.

Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
GP18400-499, 534-550, 1145-1149, 4801-48291960-1963151
FTA501-5121943-194512
FTB501B-512B1943-194512
F3A513-571, 5761947-194860
F3B513B-518B, 525B-526B, 553B-556B, 561B-570B1947-194822
GP38572-5771966-19676
F7A577-626, 1500-15821949-1951133
F7B587B-596B, 629B-630B, 1500B-1534B1949-195147
GP35600-6491963-196550
SD40700-7891967-197190
SD40-2790-814, 816-839, 3139-3321, 6020-60731973-1980286
SW8811-81819528
GP38-2858-959, 2111-2237, 2290-23341972-1981274
NW21000-1019, 9104-91061939-194923
SW71020-1023, 9142-914619509
SW91024-1036, 9170-9191195135
SW12001100-1166, 1175-1201, 1255-1259, 1263-1279, 1280-12891963-1966126
GP71110-1130, 4116-4194, 4197-43251950-1954229
GP91131-1144, 4332-43711955-195954
MP15DC1356-1392, 1530-15541974-197562
SW15001518-152119724
GP15-11555-17141976-1982160
GP15AC-11715-1744198230
E7A2000-2009, 7004-70171947-194824
E8A2010-2017, 7018-70211950-195112
GP503500-35291980-198130
NC4100-410119372
NW44102-410319382
BL24104-411119488
E3A700119391
E6A7002-700319412
E6B7002B-7003B19412
E7B7004B, 7010B-7012B, 7014B-7017B1945-19488
SC9000-900319374
SW19004-9006, 9011, 9200-92051939-194110

General Electric

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
U30C25-29, 960-983, 3329-33341968-197335
U23B668-674, 2257-22881973-197739
44-Tonner800-801, 811-8151941-19427
B23-72289-2358, 4670-46841978-198185
B30-7A4800-4854198255
C36-79000-9059198560

A MoPac Class P-73 4-6-2, #6423, appears to be pulling its train out of Memphis, Tennessee on June 6, 1940.

Steam Locomotive Roster

Class Type Wheel Arrangement
6, 12, 2208, 2502, 8510, 8552, 8562, 8601, E (Various)American4-4-0
801, 851, C (Various)Consolidation2-8-0
1699, M (Various), MK (Various)Mikado2-8-2
2101, 26S-63Northern4-8-4
6000, 6001, P (Various)Pacific4-6-2
A (Various)Atlantic4-4-2
BK (Various)Berkshire2-8-4
L-1, SF-63Pacific4-6-2
MT (Various)Santa Fe2-10-2
TW (Various)Twelve-Wheeler4-8-0

One of the MoPac's largest steam locomotive designs was its fleet of 4-8-4 Northerns, rebuilt from its 2-8-4 Berkshires during the early 1940s. Seen here is #2204 sitting at the shop track in Jefferson City, Missouri on July 25, 1950.

Texas & Pacific Steam Locomotive Roster

Class Type Wheel Arrangement
A-2 Through A-4American4-4-0
B-1 Through B-8Switcher0-6-0/T
BK-63Berkshire2-8-4
C-1Mogul2-6-0
C-2/aSwitcher0-8-0
D-1 Through D-11-STen-Wheeler4-6-0
E-1Atlantic4-4-2
F-1, F-1-SConsolidation2-8-0
H-1, H-2Mikado2-8-2
I-1Texas2-10-4
E-1Atlantic4-4-2
M-1, M-2Mountain4-8-2
P-1Pacific4-6-2
2100/26S-63Northern (Rebuilt from its fleet of Bekshires.)4-8-4

Notable Passenger Trains

Colorado Eagle

Texas Eagle

Aztec Eagle: (San Antonio - Mexico City)

Houstonian: (New Orleans - Houston)

Louisiana Sunshine Special: (Little Rock - Lake Charles)

Missouri River Eagle: (St. Louis - Omaha)

Missourian: (St. Louis - Kansas City/Wichita)

Orleanean: (Houston - New Orleans)

Ozarker: (St. Louis - Little Rock)

A southbound MoPac local freight led by GP9 #1746 is about to pass through the signals at Bay City, Texas during March of 1978.

Pioneer: (Houston - Brownsville)

Rainbow Special: (Kansas City - Little Rock)

Royal Gorge: (Kansas City - Pueblo)

Southerner: (St. Louis - El Paso/San Antonio/New Orleans)

Southern Scenic: (Kansas City - Memphis)

Sunflower: (St. Louis - Kansas City/Wichita)

Sunshine Special: (St. Louis - Hot Springs/San Antonio)

Texan: (St. Louis - Fort Worth)

Valley Eagle: (Houston - Brownsville)



GP15-1 #1700 works alone doing switching work at Pine Bluff, Arkansas on September 23, 1983. The railroad found this model very useful, owning more than 100 examples of the just over 300 built altogether by EMD.

Although the MP was just one of several railroads to eventually be merged into Union Pacific its legacy will certainly forever be remembered. Along with Amtrak continuing to operate its Texas Eagle, the Union Pacific recently paid homage to several of its predecessors, including the MoPac, by painting one of its new EMD SD70ACe locomotives into a version of the railroad’s famous blue and gray passenger livery complete with an eagle adorning the locomotive’s nose. The unit debuted during the summer of 2005 and it received a number recognizing the Missouri Pacific’s final year of independence, 1982.

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