Missouri Pacific Railroad

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Missouri Pacific Railroad
Reporting mark MP
Locale Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas
Dates of operation 1851–1997
Predecessor Pacific Railroad
Successor Union Pacific
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri
Missouri Pacific Locomotive #152

The Missouri Pacific Railroad (reporting mark MP), commonly abbreviated MoPac, was one of the first railroads in the United States west of the Mississippi River. MoPac was a Class I railroad growing from dozens of predecessors and mergers, including the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway (SLIMS), Texas and Pacific Railway (TP), Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad (C&EI), St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway (SLBM), Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (KO&G), Midland Valley Railroad (MV), San Antonio, Uvalde and Gulf Railroad (SAU&G), Gulf Coast Lines (GC), International-Great Northern Railroad (IGN), New Orleans, Texas and Mexico Railway (NOTM), Missouri-Illinois Railroad (MI), as well as the small Central Branch Railway (an early predecessor of MP in Kansas and south central Nebraska), and joint ventures such as the Alton and Southern Railroad (AS).

In 1967, the railroad operated 9,041 miles of road and 13,318 miles of track, not including DK&S, NO&LC, T&P and its subsidiaries, C&EI and Missouri-Illinois.

On January 8, 1980, the Union Pacific Railroad agreed to buy the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Lawsuits filed by competing railroads delayed approval of the merger until September 13, 1982. After the Supreme Court denied a trial to the Southern Pacific, the merger took effect on December 22, 1982. However, due to outstanding bonds of the Missouri Pacific, the merger with Union Pacific become official only on January 1, 1997.


On July 4, 1851, at St. Louis, ground was broken on the Pacific Railroad, the earlier predecessor of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The first section of track was completed in 1852; in 1865, it was the first railroad in Kansas City, after construction was interrupted by the American Civil War. In 1872, the Pacific Railroad was reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railway by new investors after a railroad debt crisis. Because of corporate ties extending back to the Pacific Railroad, Missouri Pacific at one time advertised itself as being The First Railroad West of the Mississippi.

From 1879 Missouri Pacific was under the control of successful but controversial New York financier Jay Gould until his death in 1892. Gould developed a system extending through Colorado, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. His son George Gould inherited control upon his father's death. The younger Gould lost control of the company after it declared bankruptcy in 1915.[1] In 1917 the line was merged with the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway (SLIMS) and reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Missouri Pacific later acquired or gained a controlling interest in other lines in Texas, including the Gulf Coast Lines, International-Great Northern Railroad, and the Texas and Pacific Railway.

MoPac declared bankruptcy again in 1933, during the Great Depression, and entered into trusteeship. The company was reorganized and the trusteeship ended in 1956.[1]

By the 1980s the system would own 11,469 miles of rail line over 11 states bounded by Chicago to the east, Pueblo, Colorado, in the west, north to Omaha, south to the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, and southeast along the Gulf seaports of Louisiana and Texas. MoPac operated a fleet of more than 1,500 diesel locomotives, almost all purchased within the previous 10 years. Under the leadership of Downing B. Jenks, who became president and chief executive in 1961 the company became a pioneer in the early days of computer-guided rail technology. It was a major hauler of grain, TOFC (Trailer on Flat Car), coal, ore, autos and dry goods. At the time of their mega-merger in 1982 the MoPac owned newer locomotives, more locomotives and operated more track than partner Union Pacific Railroad.

On December 22, 1982 the Missouri Pacific merged with Union Pacific and Western Pacific Railroad companies to create the largest system in its day, the "Pacific Rail Systems," under the holding company Union Pacific Corporation, but maintained its own corporate and commercial identity. On December 1, 1989, the Missouri Kansas Texas and the Galveston, Houston & Henderson were merged away into the Missouri Pacific after acquisition by the Union Pacific in 1988. By 1994 all motive power of the Missouri Pacific was repainted and on January 1, 1997, its corporate and commercial identity was officially merged away into the Union Pacific. UP continued to use the MoPac headquarters building at 210 N. 13th St. in downtown St. Louis for its customer service center until February 15, 2005. The former MoPac building is undergoing rehab as condominiums and is now known as Park Pacific.

Revenue Freight Ton-Miles (Millions)
MP Missouri-Illinois C&EI Doniphan Kensett & Searcy New Orleans & Lower Coast Asherton & Gulf San Antonio Southern Sugar Land Ry
1925 11282 84 2355 0.2 0.8 0.8 4 9
1933 7457 44 1066 0.1 1.4 (with MP) (with MP) (with MP)
1944 25910 188 3456 0.1 7
1960 19238 183 2335 0.5 9
1970 26907 359 2309  ?  ?

In this table "MP" includes New Orleans Texas & Mexico and all its subsidiary railroads (Beaumont Sour Lake & Western, I-GN, StLB&M, etc.) that officially merged into MP in 1956. Ton-miles for C&EI in 1970 presumably don't include the L&N portion.

By that same definition MP operated 10431 route-miles at the end of 1929, after A&G, SAS and Sugar Land had come under NOT&M; NO&LC operated 60 and DK&S (not subsidiary until 1931) operated 6. At the end of 1960 MP operated 9362 route-miles, NO&LC and DK&S were the same, and M-I operated 172 miles.

Revenue Freight Traffic (Millions of Net Ton-Miles)
T&P KO&G/KO&G of TX Midland Valley Cisco & Northeastern Pecos Valley Southern Texas Short Line
1925 1763 193 230 4 7 0.8
1933 1498 163 84 (with T&P) (with T&P) (with T&P)
1944 4761 412 113
1960 4168 495 97
1970 5854 150 (merged Apr 1970) (merged 1967)

"T&P" includes its subsidiary roads (A&S, D&PS, T-NM etc.); operated route-miles totalled 2259 at the end of 1929 (after C&NE, PVS and TSL had become subsidiaries) and 2033 at the end of 1960.

Passenger train service

The Scenic Limited leaving St. Louis.
1929 postcard ad for the Scenic Limited.

In the early years of the 20th century, most Missouri Pacific and St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern passenger trains were designated by number only, with little emphasis on premier name trains. This changed in May, 1915, with the inauguration of the Scenic Limited between St. Louis, Kansas City, and Pueblo, Colorado. Between Pueblo and Salt Lake City, the Scenic Limited operated through the Royal Gorge over the tracks of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. From Salt Lake City to San Francisco, the Scenic Limited operated over the Western Pacific Railroad. A second premier train, the Sunshine Special began operating on December 5, 1915, between St. Louis, Little Rock, Austin and San Antonio. Another named train, the Rainbow Special was placed in service in July 1921 between Kansas City and Little Rock. The Sunshine Special soon eclipsed the other trains in travel volume, becoming the signature train of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. An advertising slogan in 1933 proclaimed: "It's 70-degrees in the Sunshine when it's 100-degrees in the shade," referring to the fact that the Sunshine Special was one of the first air-conditioned trains in the southwest. When new streamlined trains were delivered, the Scenic Limited and Rainbow Special names faded, but the Sunshine Special had sufficient name recognition to co-exist along with the new streamliners into the late 1950s.

In the streamliner era, the Missouri Pacific's premier passenger trains were collectively known as the Eagles. A variety of Eagle trains were operated, with the first such train inaugurated in 1940. Eagle routes included the Missouri River Eagle (St. Louis to Kansas City and Omaha), the Delta Eagle (Memphis, Tennessee to Tallulah, Louisiana), the Colorado Eagle (St. Louis to Pueblo and Denver), the Texas Eagle (St. Louis to Texas), and the Valley Eagle (Houston to Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas).

MOPAC newspaper ad for travel to a livestock show, 1922.

Other notable trains the MoPac operated included:

  • the Houstonian (between New Orleans and Houston);
  • Missourian (between St. Louis and Kansas City);
  • Orleanean (between Houston and New Orleans);
  • Ozarker (between St. Louis and Little Rock);
  • Pioneer (between Houston and Brownsville);
  • Southerner (service from Kansas City and St. Louis to New Orleans, via Little Rock);
  • Southern Scenic (between Kansas City and Memphis);
  • Sunflower (between St. Louis and Wichita); and

Missouri Pacific gained a reputation for aggressively discontinuing passenger trains after the mid-1960s, and when the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) assumed passenger train operations on May 1, 1971, the St. Louis to Kansas City route was the only Missouri Pacific route to be included as part of Amtrak's basic system. On March 13, 1974, Amtrak restored passenger train service over segments of Missouri Pacific-Texas and Pacific's original Texas Eagle route between St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo.

Equipment Colors and Painting

File:Missouri Pacific Screaming Eagle Herald.png
Missouri Pacific 'Screaming Eagle' Herald first introduced in 1969. General use of this herald spanned from 1974 to 1984 (1983 for general equipment, 1984 for documents)

In the early days of steam, the MP generally used Gold lettering on its steam locomotives. This was further broken down by using two different lettering styles: Block for the numbers and Roman for the lettering (including subsidiary markings and classifications). Once Lewis W. Baldwin became president of the Missouri Pacific in April 1923, the color of the lettering changed to Aluminum.

The Missouri Pacific was known for its "Eagle" color scheme designed by Raymond Loewy. It consisted of Dark Cerulean, Icterine Yellow, and Isabelline Gray. These colors were mostly applied to passenger locomotives, passenger cars, merchandise boxcars and first-generation freight locomotives starting on October 22, 1939, and ending on April 27, 1961.

Modern Union Pacific EMD SD70ACe locomotive, painted in MoPac livery.

When Texas & Pacific was acquired by the Missouri Pacific, the railroad discontinued its Swamp Holly Orange & Black for the Eagle Colors (except Icterine Yellow) in its new order of GP18's 1145-1149 in May 1960: a traditional practice of railroads using the parent company's colors.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s a handful of railroads began to paint their locomotives one or two simple colors without excessive striping, lettering, etc. due to financial troubles. However, under the Downing B. Jenks presidency, the Eagle Scheme was discontinued because Mr. Jenks did not want to spend money on a fancy paint scheme, though his railroad was not having financial problems. Effective April 28, 1961, all locomotives (new or to be repainted) were to receive an alternative version of Dark Cerulean, from which the term "Jenks Blue" is derived (also sometimes called "Dark Eagle Blue").

With the Union Pacific merger taking effect on December 22, 1982, the Missouri Pacific sought to keep its Jenks Blue scheme. However, a study in late 1983 indicated the expense of all three railroads paint schemes were too costly. Union Pacific then allowed the Missouri Pacific & Western Pacific railroads to create a new scheme. The first new scheme attempt by the Missouri Pacific was a 'simple logo-simple scheme' design. Originally planned for the locomotive to be completely painted Armour Yellow (including trucks, frame, and fuel tank) with the application of the Missouri Pacific 20-inch lettering along the carbody & a Buzzsaw logo on the nose and air equipment doors. The plan was then revised to now have a black frame, trucks, and fuel tank. The final revision introduced the unit to be repainted in a standard Union Pacific scheme with 'MISSOURI PACIFIC' instead of 'UNION PACIFIC' lettering along the carbody.

The Missouri Pacific Pullman Rio Usumacinta at the Wichita Falls Railroad Museum

Once the test scheme was completed, the lettering was deemed unsatisfactory due to the word 'MISSOURI' being too large to fit on smaller four-axle carbodies. Effective May 14, 1984, the Union Pacific scheme was to be used, but in substitution of the Union Pacific 'Jinx' typeface, a renovated version of lettering was used. Using the type style seen on Missouri Pacific reporting marks and locomotive numbers, 'North Little Rock' lettering was used, as it fit the large and small carbodies decently. On January 1, 1986, the scheme was discontinued after the consolidation of the Missouri Pacific & Union Pacific operating departments. To this day, the paint scheme remains controversial among management, employees and rail fans.

Honorary tribute

On July 30, 2005, UP unveiled a brand new EMD SD70ACe locomotive, Union Pacific 1982, with Missouri Pacific paint and logos, as part of a new heritage program.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Union Pacific Railroad. "UP: Chronological History." Accessed 2009-12-18.

External links