The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, better known as simply The Katy
or K-T (from which the name "Katy" derived), was a large granger system
that, like the Illinois Central and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroads
ran, unconventionally, north-south (instead of the more common,
east-west). As its name implies, the MKT connected all of its namesake states with connections to cities such as Omaha and St. Louis in the north and Galveston and San Antonio, Texas in the south. The railroad was somewhat successful over the years but it ran into financial trouble a number of times throughout its life. As finances
again became an issue in the 1980s the MKT sought a merger with the
Union Pacific Railroad in 1986 and in 1989 the system became yet another
part of the UP empire.
This classic view shows SD40-2 #632 rolling through a small-town grade crossing at Chouteau, Oklahoma on September 18, 1983.
has its beginnings dating back to 1865 when the Union Pacific Railway
(later changed to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad in 1870) was
chartered to build a line connecting Junction City, Kansas to New
Orleans. Around the same time the railroad was able to reach Texas,
Oklahoma, and Missouri when it took control of the Tebo & Neosho
Railroad which connected places like Sedalia and Clinton, Missouri with
Nevada, Missouri. Of note the MKT was leased to the Missouri Pacific in 1880 and became
part of the burgeoning Jay Gould empire for a time, which lasted until
1888. The biggest advantage the railroad gained from this leasing was that
it acquired new markets and reached cities like Fort Worth, Dallas, and Waco, Texas.
Two Missouri-Kansas-Texas Geeps led by GP40 #230 are moving a local near Houston, Texas along the Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad (a joint operation with the MoPac) during May of 1988.
Throughout the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th century the Katy
would continue to grow and update its system, albeit its lines were not
always the fastest/most direct or built to the highest standards (a
particular reason why it would have financial troubles for much of its life). In 1895 it reached St. Louis and while its dreams were to reach all of the way to Chicago, financial
problems, again, kept this from becoming a reality; although other new
markets it did reach included Kansas City, Omaha, and Lincoln, Nebraska.
While profits and the overall health of Missouri-Kansas-Texas ebbed and flowed through
its early years, after the lucrative World War II traffic ended
following 1945 it became increasingly difficult to remain solvent. The Katy,
of course, never had the most direct lines and in a region choked with
other railroads it comes as no surprise that trying to survive became an
increasingly tricky task as the years progressed (to add to its
problems the railroad had poor management on and off throughout its existence). The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad also never had an extensive
passenger train network (which, looking back at history today this
wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly as the service began to eat
away severely at profits across the industry following WWII) and as
early as the 1950s the railroad began to wholesale abandon unprofitable
rail lines and shutdown passenger operations where possible.
A pair of GP7s, #97 and #104, are switching the yard at Pryor, Oklahoma on September 18, 1983.
By the 1970s things were looking better for the railroad as a new president,
Reginald Whitman, worked to abandon unprofitable lines and passenger
operations and bring in new freight business, which had become quite
successful by the early 1980s. However, the merger movement of the
1980s was, unfortunately, the final blow for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas. With the loss of
profitable overhead traffic provided by such railroads as the Missouri
Pacific Railroad and Frisco, and now a David among Goliaths surrounding
the MKT, it simply had no choice but to find a merger partner somewhere,
which it did in 1986 with the Union Pacific Railroad and finally in
December, 1989 the Katy officially became part of the UP system.
A 4-6-2 Pacific, Class H-1 #361, is seen here at Kansas City during May of 1928.
106A-107A, 106C-107C, 131-135
208A-211A, 226A-229A, 208C-211C, 228C-229C
65D-65G, 121B-124B, 207B
Retired from service and in storage are several steam locomotives sitting at Parsons, Kansas on July 27, 1950. Pictured is Class L-2-c 2-8-2 Mikado #873.
Steam Locomotive Roster
G (Various), K (Various)
L-1, L-2 (Various)
A quartet of MKT Geeps led by GP40 #179 is along the open country of Katy, Texas with their train during November of 1975. The author notes that this stretch of the railroad is now gone under the Interstate 10 expansion and commercial development.
While much of the original system has since been either
abandoned or railbanked some of its lines continue to carry on,
including with the Union Pacific. Although now gone, the Union Pacific
recently paid homage to several of its predecessors, including the MKT,
by painting one of its new EMD SD70ACe locomotives into a version of
the railroad’s famous red and black passenger livery complete with a
version of its well known livery (like the one featured at the top of
the page). The unit debuted during September of 2005 and it received a
number recognizing the Missouri-Texas-Kansas Railroad’s final year of