Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

A Missouri Pacific Slideshow.

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A postcard photo of the Missouri Pacific's beautiful "Colorado Eagle" streamliner. (CC Historic Collection)

Missouri Pacific Railroad
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.

The Missouri Pacific Lines had its real beginning on July 4, 1851, when, amid colorful ceremonies, ground was broken at St. Louis for construction of the Pacific Railroad. This pioneer company had been chartered by the State of Missouri in March of 1849 and was to "extend from St. Louis via Jefferson City to the western boundary of Missouri and thence to the Pacific Ocean." Surveys for the route of the new railroad had been made in 1850 under the direction of James P. Kirkwood, a noted engineer of his day, and the first section, about four miles long, was opened for service in early December of 1852. On that date the first railroad train operated west of the Mississippi River traveled triumphantly over the four miles of the Pacific Railroad.

Other pioneer railroads that became integral parts of the Missouri Pacific System, were also chartered or under construction during the two decades from 1850 to 1870. Among the major ones were the St. Louis and Iron Mountain, Cairo & Fulton, and the International-Great Northern. The Iron Mountain charter of 1851, which renewed for the most part the charter of the "St. Louis & Bellevue Mineral Railroad Company," granted in 1837, provided for the construction of a railroad from St. Louis to Pilot Knob, and, if desired, extension to the Mississippi River at or below Cape Girardeau or to the southwestern part of the state. The original line, completed in 1858, extended from St. Louis to Pilot Knob with a branch from Mineral Point to Potosi. The Cairo & Fulton (there was a Missouri Company incorporated in 1854 and an Arkansas Company incorporated a year earlier), proposed to build a railroad from Birds Point, Missouri, on the west bank of the Mississippi River opposite Cairo, IL, to Fulton, AR, near the Arkansas-Texas state border, via Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Twenty miles were constructed from Birds Point west, but financial difficulties and the Civil War delayed completion of the line to Poplar Bluff until 1873. Meanwhile construction of the Arkansas branch was under way. The Cairo & Fulton, having been bought by the Iron Mountain, was consolidated with that railroad in 1874.

A postcard photo of the Missouri Pacific's beautiful "Colorado Eagle" streamliner.  CS Historic Collection

Missouri Pacific Buzzsaw herald.
The third major railroad constructed during this early period and destined to become an important link in the Missouri Pacific System was the International-Great Northern, a combination of two fairly large lines –the Houston and Great Northern and the International Railway. The Houston and Great Northern, was chartered in 1866 to build from Houston to the Red River. The plan at that time was to continue on through the Indian Territory into Kansas and on to the Canadian border. Before this objective could be attained, however, other paralleling lines had been constructed. In 1872, the line was completed from Houston to Palestine, Texas, where it connected with the International Railway. The original plan for the International Railway to connect at Texarkana, AR, with the Cairo & Fulton, but this was later changed. Construction began in 1870 and three years later the line between Hearne and Longview, Texas, was completed. Connection was made at the latter point with the Texas and Pacific Railway. The Houston and Great Northern and the International Railway merged and consolidated themselves in September, 1873, into a new corporation under the name International & Great Northern Railroad Company. Subsequently the International-Great Northern was extended to San Antonio and then on to the Mexican border at Laredo.

In the late 1870s Jay Gould, who was to do much toward welding many small individual southwestern railroads into the Missouri Pacific system, appeared on the scene. Gould’s first entry into the history of the Missouri Pacific occurred in 1879 when he bought control of the Pacific Railroad, at that time extending from St. Louis through Kansas City to Atchison, Kansas. Later he acquired the Iron Mountain; Missouri-Kansas-Texas; Central Branch Union Pacific; International-Great Northern; Texas and Pacific, Galveston, Houston and Henderson and the Wabash. All of these railroads were operated under Missouri Pacific-Iron Mountain management with Gould as president. Gould's rail empire attained its greatest mileage in 1883 when it embraced 9,547 miles of railroad, stretching from Buffalo on the east to Kansas City in the west, and south from Chicago and St. Louis to Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Galveston, El Paso, San Antonio and Laredo. But Gould's empire was not to hold together very long. The stocks of the various railroads constituting the MP-IM system were not owned by the parent company but by Jay Gould and his associates. Whenever any of the afflicted lines became unable to meet the obligations of its bonded indebtedness, receivership resulted. Thus the Wabash lease to the Iron Mountain for 99 years was set aside in May of 1884. Receivers were appointed to take over the property. The Texas and Pacific also went into receivership in December of 1885. Accounts of the International Great Northern were separated from those of the Missouri Pacific on May 1, 1888, and on February 21, 1889, the I-G.N., too, went into receivership. Since the Missouri Pacific felt unable to carry the deficit of the leased Missouri, Kansas and Texas, receivers were appointed for it on November 1, 1888. The MK&T and the Wabash were never again to become parts of  Gould’s Missouri Pacific system, as did other Gould roads. Despite the loss of these roads, the MP-IM, through the acquisition of other lines in its territory and by building new and extending existing lines, regained the stature of a great rail empire. At the time Jay Gould died in 1892 it was a 5,465 mile system. This was truly a remarkable feat when it is recalled that Gould's original purchase, the Pacific Railroad, consisted of only 440 miles extending from St. Louis to Atchison.

The International-Great Northern was not rejoined to the Missouri Pacific family of rail lines until 1924. This happened when the Missouri Pacific acquired the Gulf Coast Lines, a rail system extending in an arc from New Orleans through Beaumont and Houston to Brownsville, Texas, with numerous branch lines in Texas and Louisiana. The Gulf Coast Lines was projected originally by B. F. Yoakum, chairman of the board of the Rock Island and Frisco Lines. Yoakum's plan envisioned using the Rock Island and Frisco, together with several railroads to be built in Texas and Louisiana and these were known as the Gulf Coast Lines, to form a continuous line of railroad extending from Chicago, St. Louis and Memphis to Baton Rouge, Houston, Brownsville, Tampico, and Mexico City.

The first section of the present Gulf Coast Lines – the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico – was built from Robstown to Brownsville, Texas. Construction started in August, 1903 and the line was placed in operation July 4, 1904. Northward construction proceeded from Robstown and through service from Brownsville to Houston started at the end of December of 1907. Construction of the second section – the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western –was started at Beaumont in October, 1903. This was undertaken originally by a group of Beaumont citizens who wanted to build an electric line to serve the newly discovered oil fields in that area. Yoakum purchased the properties in 1905 and placed them in service to Houston on December 31, 1907, simultaneously with the beginning of operation of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico from Houston to Brownsville. The third section of Yoakum's projected international railway was the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico. This was to extend from Beaumont to Baton Rouge, with a line from Baton Rouge to Memphis. Construction began in 1905 at Anchorage, Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi River opposite Baton Rouge, and the line was completed to DeQuincy, Louisiana, September 1, 1909.

To bridge the gap between DeQuincy and a connection with the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western at Beaumont, arrangements were made with the Kansas City Southern to use their tracks between these two cities. The projected line between Baton Rouge and Memphis never progressed beyond the plan-on-paper stage. Trackage rights were, therefore, acquired from the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company between Baton Rouge ad New Orleans and through train service was established between Houston and New Orleans on September 1, 1909. In 1916 the trackage arrangements with the LR&N were discontinued and since that time Gulf Coast trains have used the Illinois Central route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Frisco receivership of 1913 carried with it the three Yoakum-projected roads in Texas and Louisiana. However, upon recommendation of the Interstate Commerce Commission the court ordered the receivers to divest the Frisco of their Texas-Louisiana lines. Upon termination of the bankruptcy in 1916 the name Gulf Coast Lines was adopted for the several roads stretching from New Orleans to Brownsville, all of which had been acquired by the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico. In December, 1924 the ICC approved the application of Missouri Pacific to purchase the Gulf Coast Lines, which acquisition included the International-Great Northern, the latter having been purchased by the Gulf Coast Lines six months earlier.

Another important railroad considered part of the Missouri Pacific family is he 1,800-mile Texas and Pacific Railroad. This railroad, in which Missouri Pacific owned a controlling interest but operated separately, stretched from New Orleans through Dallas and Fort Worth to El Paso. The Texas and Pacific line between Texarkana and Longview was the connecting link that connected the Missouri Pacific from the north with the International-Great Northern to the south, and the closest cooperative traffic and transportation relationship existed between the parent company and its subsidiary. The Texas and Pacific enjoyed the distinction of being the only railroad chartered by an act of Congress. Shortly after receiving its charter in 1871 to build a railroad from the east border of Texas to San Diego, it acquired two smaller, previously chartered and operating railroads. Built westward, the line was completed in 1881 to Sierra Blanca about 90 miles east of El Paso. An agreement with the Southern Pacific provided for the joint use of that railroad's tracks to El Paso and the Southern Pacific further agreed to handle between El Paso and California any Iron Mountain-Texas and Pacific trains that might be offered to them.

MoPac declared bankruptcy in 1933, during the Great Depression, and entered into trusteeship. The company was reorganized and the trusteeship ended in 1956. 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 North 13th Street 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.

Passenger train service
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).

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 the Texan (between St. Louis and Fort Worth).

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
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 types of fonts: 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.
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 due to the belief of Mr. Jenks not wanting to spend money on a fancy paint scheme; which the railroad itself was not having any financial problems at all. Effective April 28, 1961, all locomotives (new or to be repainted) were to receive an alternative version of Dark Cerulean, which the term "Jenks Blue" (also sometimes called "Dark Eagle Blue") is derived  from.

With the Union Pacific Merger taking into 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.

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' lettering font, a renovated version of lettering was used. Using the font format 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, as management, employees and railfans were divided into approving or disapproving such a scheme.

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.

See also:

Missouri Pacicific Historical Society Official Website:

International-Great Northern


Gulf Coast Lines

Chicago and Eastern Illinois

Texas and Pacific

St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern

Railroads of the U. S. A.

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