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Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad

Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad
Katy system as of 1918; many of the outlying lines left the system in the 1923 reorganization
Reporting mark MKT
Locale Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas
Dates of operation 1870–1988
Successor Union Pacific
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Dallas, Texas

The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (reporting mark MKT) is a former Class I railroad company in the United States, with its last headquarters in Dallas. It was established in 1865 under the name Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch and served an extensive rail network in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. In 1988, it merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad and is now part of Union Pacific Railroad.

In its earliest days the MKT was commonly referred to as "the K-T", which was its stock exchange symbol; this common designation soon evolved into "the Katy".

The Katy was the first railroad to enter Texas from the north through Denison, Texas. Eventually the Katy's core system would grow to link Parsons, Fort Scott, Junction City, Olathe, and Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Joplin, Jefferson City, and St. Louis, Missouri; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Temple, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston, Texas. An additional mainline between Fort Worth and Salina, Kansas, was added in the 1980s after the collapse of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad; this line was operated as the Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad (OKKT).

At the end of 1970, MKT operated 2623 miles of road and 3765 miles of track.


  • History 1
    • Passenger trains 1.1
    • Paint schemes 1.2
  • Company officers 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Bibliography 5.2
  • External links 6


An 1881 advertisement for the line

When it incorporated in May 1870, the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad immediately acquired the Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch (est. 1865) and its 182 miles (293 km) of track in Kansas. (Union Pacific Railway was, for a period of several years in the late 19th century, the official name of the unrelated Union Pacific Railroad, which later acquired MKT as part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.)

At the time of 1870 incorporation, consolidations were also made with the Labette & Sedalia Railway Co. and the Neosho Valley & Holden Railway Co.; MKT also acquired the Tebo & Nosho Railroad Co., the St. Louis & Santa Fe Railroad Co., and the Hannibal & Central Missouri Railroad Co. Combined with the UP Southern Branch, these small, newly built railroads formed the foundation on which the Katy would build.

Congress had passed acts promising land grants to the first railroad to reach the Kansas border via the Neosho Valley. The Katy portion of the former UP Southern Branch, which had begun building from Fort Riley just north of Junction City, Kansas, was in a heated competition for the prize. On June 6, 1870, Katy workers laid the first rails across the Kansas border, winning the race. Congress' promised land grants were never made, as the courts overturned the grants because the land was in Indian Territory and was the property of the Indian tribes.

The Katy continued its push southward, laying track through the territory and reaching Texas in 1872, acquiring other small railroads while extending its reach to Dallas in 1886, Waco in 1888, Houston in April 1893 and to San Antonio in 1901.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad bridge over Red River (postcard, circa 1911)
Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles[1]
Year Traffic
1925 3317
1933 1827
1944 7256
1960 3980
1970 4999
Source: ICC annual reports

When the Katy railroad reached Houston, its joint ownership of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad gave it immediate access to the Port of Galveston and its ocean-going shipping on the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1896, as a publicity stunt set up by William Crush, the Katy crashed two locomotives head-on, pulling loaded trains, at a site that came to be known thereafter as Crush, Texas. The collision occurred before more than 40,000 spectators, three of whom died (and several were injured) by debris from the exploding boilers. The ragtime composer and pianist Scott Joplin, who was performing in the area at the time, commemorated the event in his song "The Great Crush Collision March" (which he dedicated to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway).[2]

In 1911, the MKT purchased railroad lines held by the industrialist Altus, Oklahoma, became the northern terminus of the railroad. The remaining 77-mile link between Wichita Falls and Altus was absorbed in 1991 by the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway.[4] The Katy acquired the Beaver, Mead and Englewood Railroad in 1931.[5]

From 1915 until January 4, 1959, the Katy, in a joint venture with the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway (popularly known as the Frisco), operated the Texas Special from St. Louis to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and San Antonio. It sported rail cars with names including Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, David Crockett, and James Bowie after prominent men of the state.

MKT #1006, a Baldwin DS-4-4-1000, on display in Parsons, Kansas.

On August 12, 1988 the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac) and its owner, Union Pacific, purchased the Katy with approval from the Interstate Commerce Commission. The merging and restructuring of railroads during the 1980s had cost the Katy much overhead traffic, and it had been seeking a merger partner. On December 1, 1989 the Katy was merged into the MoPac, which is now part of the Union Pacific system.

In the "rails to trails" program, much of the Missouri track line has been adapted for use as the Katy Trail State Park, including a spur to Columbia, a Missouri State Park which runs along the Missouri River for part of its route. In downtown Dallas, a 3.5-mile (6 km) long section called the Katy Trail is being converted into a multi-use trail linking White Rock Lake to the American Airlines Center.

In 1997 the segment linking Katy, Texas to downtown Houston was abandoned, and stripped of rails soon after. The section between Katy and Interstate 610 was purchased by the Texas Department of Transportation in 1998 for the expansion of Katy Freeway. The line that went into Houston was purchased by the city's Parks and Recreation Department. In 2009 it was adapted and paved as the Heights Bike Trail.

As part of a new heritage program, in July 2005 Union Pacific unveiled a new EMD SD70ACe locomotive, Union Pacific 1988, painted in traditional MKT colors.

The Katy Limited circa 1910.
The Katy Flyer in 1911.

Passenger trains

The Katy operated the following named passenger trains:


Paint schemes

  • 1870–1880s, Early steam locomotives were dark maroon, with large oval medallion on the side and back of the tenders, with a field of Chinese vermillion and the letters M. K. & T. R. W. inside the oval and on the side of the crew cab, a one and one-half inch gold line on the outer edge, and the number of the engine in the center of field in gold, black shaded and split on the rear of the tender. All passenger engines were finished with gold lettering and striping.[6][7] Rolling stock used colors common in those days, i.e. boxcar brown, caboose red, etc.
  • 1880s–1900s, Steam locomotive livery was simplified after the Jay Gould gained control of the railroad. Gould instructed shop personnel to paint all engines black and place the railroad initials M. K. & T. in about 12 inch letters on the side of the tender tank bordered by half inch striping. The engine number was placed on side of the crew cab, side of the sand dome, coping of the tender and back of tender.[8] Rolling stock used colors common in those days, i.e. boxcar brown, caboose red, etc.
  • 1900s–1923, Steam locomotive livery was simplified to overall shiny black, dark graphite smokebox, smokebox door and stack. The color of all lettering and numbers was changed to white. The road name, M. K. &. T. was moved to the side of the crew cab, along with the engine number. The engine number was painted on the side of the tenders in large numerals and on the rear in smaller numerals; the number remained on the sand dome.[9] Rolling stock used colors common in those days, i.e. boxcar brown, caboose red, etc.
  • 1928–1947 Steam locomotives were shiny black with the MKT herald on their tenders. Rolling stock used colors common in those days, i.e. boxcar brown, caboose red, etc.
  • 1947–1957, Diesels were bright red with silver side panels and cream yellow on top of the nose hoods. Passenger cars were painted to match. Boxcars, cabooses, and other rolling stock were frequently painted Sloan Yellow (named for MKT President Matthew S. Sloan).
  • 1957–1965, Diesels were painted an inferior red (known as Deramus red) which quickly oxidized with yellow road numbers. The Deramus era herald was an elongated version of the original style but changed to read simply "Katy" in red letters on a gold background. The text and herald were outlined in black.
  • 1965–1971, The Katy returned to a bright red paint (known as Barriger red), perhaps deeper than that used 1947-1957. They also returned to the original shaped herald but still read "Katy".
  • 1971–1988, Diesel locomotives, cabooses, and other rolling stock were painted green with yellow stripes, lettering and numbering. The first Katy locomotive painted into this scheme was GP7 #123.

In its final years, the Katy acquired several locomotives second-hand which, due to its impending acquisition by Union Pacific, were not painted into the standard green and yellow scheme. MKT acquired 18 GP40s from Conrail in late 1983 that were numbered 231-248.[10]

A set of nine GP39-2s were acquired from Kennecott Copper Corporation in late 1984. Ex KCC #779-783, 785, and 787-789 were renumbered MKT #380-388.[11]

In 1985, three additional GP38s were purchased from Conrail that were numbered 322-324 and finally, 19 GP38ACs were purchased from Illinois Central Gulf and numbered 325-343.[12] The changes in MKT's red paint were most likely due to problems with fading in the intense Texas sun. This may also have been the reason to change to green in 1970.

Company officers

Presidents of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad:

In popular culture

See also



  1. ^ MKT of Texas is included, and BM&E in 1944 and later.
  2. ^ Scott Joplin, "The Great Crush Collision March" sheet music (Temple, TX: John R. Fuller, 1896). See Bill Edwards, Rags and Pieces by Scott Joplin.
  3. ^ """Brian Hart, "Joseph Alexander Kemp. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ """Donovan L. Hofsommer, "The Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ “Faith in Oklahoma Reaps Rich Rewards,” The Daily Oklahoman, March 7, 1931
  6. ^ Wood, Sylvan R. (1944) [1875]. Bulletin No. 63 Locomotives of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Lines (Photograph). The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. pp. 16A. 
  7. ^ Wood, Sylvan R.; George B. Abdill (1960) [1875]. Rails West (Photograph). Bonanza Books. p. 105A. 
  8. ^ George, Raymond; Joe B. Collias and Raymond B. George Jr. (1890s). Katy Power (Photograph). M M Books. p. 28. 
  9. ^ Wood, Sylvan R.; George B. Abdill (1960) [1905]. Rails West (Photograph). Bonanza Books. p. 100A. 
  10. ^ "MKT Photo Gallery, Picture 1". Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Photo Details". Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ "MKT Train". Fallen Flag Railroad Photos. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  13. ^ "Personnel". Time. 1930-10-20. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Whitman takes over as Katy president". Railway Age 169 (1): p 12. July 13, 1970. 


  • Katy Railroad Historical Society, M-K-T / Katy Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved February 22, 2005.
  • Museum of the American Railroad, A Brief History of Railroads in Dallas. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  • Katy Railroad Historical Society, Katy Railroad Passenger Service. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  • Kendrick, John William (1917). A Report Upon the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway System. Chicago. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  • "The Opening of the Great Southwest: A Brief History of the Origin and Development of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Better Known as The Katy" - Published: May 1970 by the M-K-T R.R. Co.
  • "Miss Katy in the Lone Star State", Steve Allen Goen, 2006

External links

  • Katy Railroad Historical Society
  • Map of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, published 1877, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
  • The "M" in the MKT - A detailed history of the MKT in Missouri.
  • MKT locomotive roster at
  •'s Katy page with links to hundreds of photos of MKT locomotives and a humorous story about a Conrail locomotive leased by the Katy.
  • Texas Special car restoration at the Houston Railroad Museum.
  • Construction and Mergers that Formed M-K-T
  • Oklahoma Digital Maps: Digital Collections of Oklahoma and Indian Territory
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