The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, The Katy


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.

The Katy 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.

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.

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 independence, 1988.

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.

Diesel Locomotive Roster

The American Locomotive Company

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
PA-1151A, 151C, 153A, 153C19494
PA-2154A, 154C, 157A, 157C1950-19514
FA-1326A-334A, 326C-334C1948-194918
FA-2331A19501
RS31551-1563, 1701-1702195115

The Baldwin Locomotive Works

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
DS-4-4-10001000-10101946-194711
S121201-1215195115
AS161571-1586, 1787-17881950-195318

A 4-6-2 Pacific, Class H-1 #361, is seen here at Kansas City during May of 1928.

Electro-Motive Division

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
SW12001-619576
SW150050-551967-19686
MP15AC56-5919804
E7A101A, 101C19472
E8A106A-107A, 106C-107C, 131-1351950-19519
FP7121A-124A, 121C-124C19528
GP40170-2481966-196879
F3A201A-207A, 201C-207C1947-194914
F3B201B-206B19496
F7A208A-211A, 226A-229A, 208C-211C, 228C-229C194914
F7B65D-65G, 121B-124B, 207B19499
F9A226C-229C19554
F9B226B-229B19554
GP38300-303, 322-3431969-197026
GP38-2304-3211973-197618
GP39-2360-3881977-198429
SD40-2600-6371978-198138
NW21026-103019475
SW91226-1235195210
GP71501-1529, 1761-17641950-195234

Fairbanks Morse

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
H16-441591, 1731-17341950-19515

General Electric

Model Type Road Number Date Built Quantity
U23B350-35219733
70-Tonner1651-165419504

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

Class Type Wheel Arrangement
195American4-4-0
320American4-4-0
AAmerican4-4-0
B (Various)American4-4-0
C-1, C-2Switcher0-8-0
C-2, C-3American4-4-0
D-8Mogul2-6-0
E-3American4-4-0
F (Various)>Ten-Wheeler4-6-0
G (Various)Ten-Wheeler4-6-0
G (Various), K (Various)Consolidation0-8-0
H (Various)Pacific4-6-2
L-1, L-2 (Various)Mikado2-8-2


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.

For more on the fallen flag railroads like the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad consider one (or all) of Mike Schafer's Classic American Railroads books (listed below is the first in the series). He has published three thus far covering virtually all of the most well known fallen flags. I have all three in my collection and highly recommend them, the photography is excellent along with learning a general history of each railroad. 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.

Share Your Thoughts

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below. Please note that while I strive to present the information as accurately as possible I am aware that there may be errors. If you have potential corrections the help is greatly appreciated.