The Katy was the first railroad to enter Texas from the north. Eventually the Katy's core system would grow to link Kansas 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).
When it incorporated in May of 1870 the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad immediately acquired the Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch and its of track. The Union Pacific Railway was, for a period of several years in the late 1800s the official name of the Union Pacific Railroad who later acquired MKT as part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch had begun operations in 1865.
At the time of 1870 incorporation, consolidations were also made with the Labette & Sedalia Railway Co. and the Neosho Valley & Holden Railway Co. At this time 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 Union Pacific Railway, 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 and the part of the Katy had been the Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch 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. Ironically the promised land grants never materialized; the courts overturned the grants promised by Congress because the land was in Indian Territory and was the property of the Indian tribes.
When the railroad reached Houston, joint ownership of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad gave the Katy immediate access to the Port of Galveston, and access to ocean-going traffic on the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1896, as a publicity stunt the Katy crashed two locomotives at a site that came to be known thereafter as Crush, Texas.
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. This luxury passenger liner ran from St. Louis to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and San Antonio. It sported rail cars with names like Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, David Crockett, and James Bowie.
The Katy's purchase by the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company (MoPac) and the MoPac's owner, the Union Pacific, was approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1988. On December 1, 1989, the Katy was formally merged into the MoPac, and the MKT is now part of the Union Pacific Railroad system.
A large portion of the Missouri track has been converted into a Missouri State Park: the Katy Trail State Park. A long section, also called the Katy Trail, is being converted into a multi-use trail through downtown Dallas, linking White Rock Lake to the American Airlines Center.
The former MKT rail line which linked Katy to Downtown Houston has been converted; a section between Interstate 610 and Katy, Texas, is part of the Interstate 10 expansion of the Katy Freeway since TxDOT purchased the MKT right-of-way in 1998, and the MKT line east of Loop 610 into Downtown Houston is currently owned by the City of Houston's Parks and Recreation Department (plans are underway to convert the right-of-way into a bicycle trail).
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 (example).
The changes in the red paint used by MKT were most likely due to the fact that they were trying to find a red paint that would not fade quickly in the Texas sun. It was common to see turning locomotives and rolling stock various shades of faded red. The change to green in 1970 may well be a concession to the fading red paint also.
Presidents of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad:
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD ISSUES DECISION REGARDING MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS RAILROAD-ABANDONMENT-IN CHARLES, WARREN, MONTGOMERY, CALLAWAY, BOONE, HOWARD, COOPER, PETTIS COUNTIES, MO.
Mar 05, 2009; WASHINGTON, March 4 -- The U.S. Department of Transportation's Surface Transportation Board issued the following decision:...