"A Brief History of The Kansas City Southern Railway
Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company,
Ft. Smith and Van Buren Railway Company,
MidSouth Corporation, and
Graysonia, Nashville & Ashdown Railroad Company"
Adapted and updated from "Saga of KCS Lines" first
in July 1950 KCS Newsfolder
Text used by permission of the author:
Charles Pitcher, Manager of DOT Compliance,
Kansas City Southern Railway
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY
The Kansas City "Belt Line" Is Born
Two Minds With a Single Thought
Holland to the Rescue
Towns Named for Dutch Friends
Crisis in George Pullman's Death
Good Times Come with Oil
Complete Ownership to the Gulf
LOUISIANA & ARKANSAS RAILWAY COMPANY
FORT SMITH & VAN BUREN RAILWAY COMPANY
Surge of KCS Progress with Home Ownership
New "Southern Belle" Passenger Trains
The Later Years
1993 A Year of Great Expansion
GRAYSONIA NASHVILLE & ASHDOWN RAILROAD COMPANY
MIDSOUTH RAILROAD CORPORATION
Arthur Edward Stilwell, who conceived the Kansas City Southern, was born in Rochester, New York October 21, 1859. He acquired a flair for railroading from his grandfather, Hamblin Stilwell, who had been one of the founders of the New York Central Railroad, as well as a builder of the Erie Canal. The boy's imagination was captured by conversations between his grandfather and Commodore Vanderbilt, and when the Commodore asked him what he intended to do as a man, he replied, "I'm going West to build a railroad!"
Stilwell not only possessed extraordinary talents as a salesman and promoter, but had a youthful energy and optimism which he retained throughout his lifetime. He recounted that after entering the insurance business in Hartford, Connecticut, he saw from a map it was 1400 miIes from Kansas City to the Atlantic Ocean, but that a railroad running directly southward from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico on the coast of Texas would be only 800 miles long a reduction of more than one-third. This would reflect, he thought, a great saving in shipping costs for the grain and other products of the Midwest. Thereupon, he handed in his resignation and told the president of the insurance company the same thing he told Commodore Vanderbilt years before, "I'm going West to build a railroad!"
When the youthful Stilwell came to Kansas City, Missouri, he first founded a trust company, which prospered because of an ingenious plan of his to build low-cost homes on the installment plan, with the provision that the entire debt should be canceled upon the death of the buyer. The first Kansas Citian to subscribe for stock in the company was Edward Lowe Martin (b. March 12, 18"2, d December 15, 1912), a former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri (1873), who was destined to become a leading figure in the early history of the Kansas City Southern. One day, late in 1886, he informed Stilwell of an option he held for construction of a belt line railroad in Kansas City. He needed money immediately to start the construction, since the option would expire within two days. Stilwell promised to raise the necessary funds, induced a contractor to agree to start grading at a moment's notice, then boarded the next train for Philadelphia. At nine o'clock the morning of his arrival, he was in the office of A J. Drexel, one of the leading bankers of the Quaker City. Drexel saw the possibilities of the Kansas City belt line and subscribed $50.000. Stilwell worked feverishly and by early afternoon the necessary money was available. A telegram was sent to the contractor, and the first segment of what was to become The Kansas City Southern Railway Company was underway!
The new line was incorporated January 8, 1887 as The Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad with E. L. Martin as President and Arthur Stilwell as Vice President. The "belt line" which began operating August 18, 1890 extended westward across the Kaw River into Argentine, Kansas, up the bluffs into the wholesale and industrial districts of Kansas City and eastward to Independence Missouri. With some 40 miles of main track the line connected with other railroads entering the city and afforded switching service to packing houses, grain elevators, mills and stockyards. A passenger terminal was built at a cost of $65 000 and given the impressive title of Grand Central Station. (This depot, located at Second and Wyandotte Streets, served as an early Kansas City rail station until 1914 when the Union Station was opened, and then was torn down in the early 1930's.) Passenger service to Independence was started on what was called the "Air Line," and to create business, a resort, Fairmount Amusement Park incorporated in Missouri, July 26, 1895, was built halfway between the two cities.
With the The Kansas City Suburban Belt a success, Martin suggested that a line be run eighty miles south to Hume, Missouri -- to the coal fields there. Stilwell, in turn, proposed they not stop at Hume, but continue south to Pittsburg, Kansas, to additional coal deposits, then on to the lead and zinc mines at Joplin, Missouri (reached in 1893); and even farther south to the ArkansasOklahoma coal lands. Thus in 1889 the Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith Railroad was organized. Stilwell raised $2,500,000 in six months to finance the building of the line, and by October 1891, tracks had been laid to Hume, Missouri.
The following year the Texarkana and Fort Smith Railroad was acquired from W. L. Whitaker, a pioneer lumberman of Texarkana, Texas, who is said to have proposed the very idea already in Stilwell's mind -- that of a Kansas City - Gulf rail line. Whitaker had been educated at the University of Heidelberg, Germany; also at the University of Virginia, where he became an associate professor. He was on the faculty of the University of Texas before moving to Texarkana in the early 1880's. There he entered the lumber business as a contractor to supply timber and ties to railroads building in that area. He incorporated his own road, the Texarkana and Northern in 1885, to gain access to more timber. The line had been projected about twenty miles north of Texarkana and a bridge had been built across the Red River when on July 19, 1889, Whitaker changed the name of the line to the Texarkana & Fort Smith Railway Company, planning to extend it to the latter point, with the backing of Eastern interests. The backing failed and Whitaker suggested to Stilwell that his road would fit admirably into a Kansas City Gulf rail line.
Accordingly, the Texarkana & Fort Smith was acquired, and the Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith was reorganized almost immediately as the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad. Tracks then were laid as far as Joplin, Missouri, and in October 1893, another small line, The Kansas City, Fort Smith and Southern -- owned by Mathias Splitlog (b. 1810/Canada or 1812/New York, d. 1897), a wealthy Indian Chief was purchased. The "Splitlog," as it was called, ran from Joplin thirty miles south to Goodman, Missouri, then four miles west to Splitlog City, a town the chief was developing. Splitlog had been the owner of a parcel of land near the mouth of the Kaw River in Wyandotte County, Kansas, (later becoming the location of the Kansas City stockyards and packing houses). When the land increased in value, he sold it for a handsome profit and bought land in southwest Missouri where, he was told, a gold vein extended half way across McDonald County. Splitlog organized The Kansas City, Fort Smith and Southern on March 7, 1887, for he too, had ambitious plans for building southward through the Indian Territory (now eastern Oklahoma) to the Gulf of Mexico. But the promised underground treasure, evidenced in a "salted" mine, turned out to be "fool's gold." Disgusted at the way he had been swindled, Splitlog halted construction of the railroad and sold out to Eastern interests. The line from Goodman to Splitlog City was taken up and the road had been extended southward to Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, when it was acquired by Arthur Stilwell.
The Whitaker and Splitlog roads were ideally suited to plans for the southward expansion of the Kansas City Southern's predecessor. But there remained the closing of the gap between Sulphur Springs and Little River, Arkansas, and the extension of the line from Texarkana to the Gulf. The railroad soon was faced with a crisis, however. The Panic of 1893 under U.S. President Grover Cleveland was on and the country was widespread with a severe financial panic which hampered the building of the railroad. Many other railroads were in the hands of receivers and investment capital was nowhere to be had. Then Stilwell, acting on one of his famous "hunches," decided to go to Holland to sell a $3,000,000 stock issue. His associates were convinced that he was slightly touched in the head, but he finally persuaded them to give him the authority to sell the securities.
Upon his arrival in Amsterdam, Holland, Stilwell was greeted with nothing but reports of how much the Dutch had lost in American railroad stocks. Then he looked up a coffee merchant named Jan DeGoeijen whom he had met crossing the Atlantic Ocean years before. The Hollander agreed to give up his coffee business and sell stock for the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf. After one false start, the entire $3,000,000 issue was sold. This foreign capital enabled the "P&G" to build one-third of the total new railroad mileage in the United States in 1893.
The railroad was advancing rapidly into Arkansas now, and establishing new townsites. As a token of appreciation to his Dutch friends, Stilwell named certain of these towns after them. DeGoeijen became DeQueen, Arkansas, the nearest Americans could come in the way of pronunciation. Mena, Arkansas, was named for DeGoeijen's wife, Mena. Vandervoort, Arkansas; Bloomburg and Nederland, Texas; Hornbeck and DeRidder, Louisiana, all were named for prominent Holland investors. Zwolle, Louisiana, is taken from the Netherlands city of DeGoeijen's birth. Amsterdam, Missouri took the name of the Netherlands' capital. DeQuincy, Louisiana, honors Baron DeQuincy, Dutch nobleman and early stockholder
The promotion of Mena, Arkansas, as a townsite was enhanced by the efforts of the railroad to lay forty miles of track in forty days. Newspapers took up this mile-a-day program and gave the new line and Mena much publicity. Another project that put Mena in the limelight was the building by Stilwell interests of Wilhelmina Inn atop nearby Rich Mountain, which opened June 22, 1898. The Netherlands' influence stillwas foremost and it was hoped the Queen, for whom the swanky hostelry was named, would be present at the formal opening a hope that failed to materialize.
The next milestone in the history of the Kansas, Pittsburg and Gulf was the McKinleyBryan campaign of 1896. The railroad had signed contracts for over $2,000,000 worth of new equipment, to be paid by a bond issue. Then the Dutch investors announced they would not buy any bonds until after the election. Moreover, if the country voted for William Jennings Bryan and free silver, they would not take the bonds at all. The Board of Directors was about the place the company in the hands of a receiver, when Stilwell persuaded them to allow him to solicit a group of men, whose names he had hastily jotted down on a piece of paper.
The first name was George Mortimer Pullman (b. March 3, 1831). Stilwell's grandfather had given Pullman his start in life and often had permitted him to drive the mules used to pull boats on the Erie Canal. The boys became close friends, and the famous car builder had presented Stilwell with a private car No. 100, built in February 1898 the first all steel business car ever built by the Pullman Company. As story has it, the car was considered such a perfect example of rail luxury that it was displayed at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri. It is interesting to note that a pipe organ was installed which was used for the entertainment of guests and to give accompaniment for Sunday services when on the railroad line.
Stilwell asked Pullman for $150,000, pointing out that if Bryan were elected and Pullman went broke as a result. he would at least have the great satisfaction of realizing his last act as a rich man had been to lend his best friend $150.000. This unusual argument clinched the loan, and Stilwell went on to solicit the other men listed on the paper, campaigning for William McKinley all the while. Each of the prospects subscribed the exact amount Stilwell asked, the company was saved from receivership and, after McKinley's election in 1896, the Dutch investors took their bonds. McKinley was United States President 1897 to 1901.
With this crisis past, the Pittsburg and Gulf again could concentrate on further expansion. Carloads of coal and timber from Arkansas and Kansas were bringing in a tidy revenue. Tracks had been laid almost to Texarkana, grading was in progress farther south, and the terminal facilities at Shreveport, Louisiana were enlarged in anticipation of the time when the line would reach that city.
Then the railroad was faced with a momentous decision. There was an opportunity to buy the Houston, East and West Texas Line (now part of Southern Pacific), which ran from Shreveport to Houston and Galveston. Texas. Purchase of this road would mean the "P&G" would not have to build south of Shreveport, and at Galveston it would have its longawaited outlet to the Gulf. It was then that Stilwell had what he called his "weirdest hunch of all." The night before the Directors' meeting, at which the purchase of the Galveston line was to be ratified, he was gripped by an overpowering fear of what might happen to a coastal city in the teeth of a violent storm a fear that proved wellfounded when Galveston was struck by a destructive hurricane on September 8, 1900, in which more than 5,000 lives were lost and much of the city was destroyed. Stilwell persuaded the directors to give up the Galveston plan, and it was decided to build a city, to be called Port Arthur after Stilwell's given name, on the shore of Lake Sabine. The lake would provide a landlocked harbor, safe from Gulf storms, and a canal deep enough for oceangoing ships would connect it with the Gulf of Mexico.
In six weeks 40,000 acres on the north shore of Lake Sabine were bought, the town was laid out and settlers from many states were attracted to the area. The land was found to be especially suitable for rice growing, and as a mark of gratitude to the Dutch people, the town of Nederland was founded and arrangements made for Dutch families to migrate from Holland to grow rice in Texas.
One last problem remained the railroad had neglected to buy a certain narrow strip of land through which the ship canal was to pass. Now, with the land at a premium, the owners asked $1,000 an acre for it. Arthur Stilwell thought it was worth about fifty cents an acre. The Texas legislature passed a bill permitting condemnation of the land under the right of eminent domain, and fixing the price at two dollars an acre. The landowners carried the case to the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, which decided in favor of the railway by a margin of one vote! The canal was completed and harbor facilities were built, including shipside tracks and a half-million bushel grain elevator. These facilities have since been modernized, improved and expanded, and now include the latest means for moving grain from the elevator to the holds of ships, and dumping and conveying equipment that transfers coal, coke and soda ash directly from railroad cars to ships.
Through service between Kansas City, Missouri, and Port Arthur, Texas, began after the last spike was driven about 12 miles north of Beaumont, Texas, on September 11, 1897. The shorter route to tidewater immediately enhanced Kansas City's position as a grain market and helped the city become the primary wheat market of the nation.
The Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf soon was earning $5,000 a mile a year, and Stilwell, appointed as President of the line in 1897, was at the high point of his career. He was to achieve one further triumph which ended with an ironic twist that augured the decline in his fortunes.
Business for the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf was good. In addition to grain, there was an increasing demand for the transportation of other agricultural products, as well as coal and lumber. The line's rolling stock proved inadequate to serve the many lumber mills and other budding industries. Moreover, under the terms of an unfortunate mortgage, allowances for new equipment were far too small. In desperation, Stilwell went to the man who had come to his aid once before George M. Pullman. After examining the situation thoroughly, Pullman told Stilwell to come to New York in a month's time. bringing with him everyone who had a working interest in the railroad. With the skill of a great showman, Pullman said nothing about what he had in mind until the assembled guests had finished the luncheon he had provided. Then he announced he would provide the Pittsburg and Gulf with $3,000.000 on very general terms, to buy the new cars. Stilwell wrung Pullman's hand in fervent gratitude as the room echoed with cheers. It was several days however, before Stilwell was able to go to Chicago to get Pullman's signature on the necessary papers. When he stepped off the train, newsboys were hawking a special extra George M. Pullman was dead (d. October 19, 1897)! The cars already had been ordered, and the $3,000,000 to pay for them was nothing but a dead man's promises unwritten and not legally binding.
The railroad had suffered a severe blow, and refinancing was necessary. Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf went into receivership, dominated by a trio of Eastern financiers Ernest Thalman. John W. Gates and E. H. Harriman. A reorganization took place on April 1. 1900, and the line became The Kansas City Southern Railway Company with Colonel Samuel W. Fordyce (b. February 7, 1810, d. August 3, 1919) as President. A. E. Stilwell left the railroad upon reorganization into the KCS, to begin building another railroad from Kansas City to the Pacific Ocean called the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient; a line later becoming part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe System. This project, as well as others, kept Stilwell busy until his death September 26, 1928. It is interesting to note that Stilwell was an invalid at the time of his death, as a result of injuries suffered in an elevator accident in New York City, and died of a serious and complicated illness. His wife of 49 years, Jennie, took her own life just 13 days after Arthur's death.
Although the new management immediately began improvements in the roadway and rolling stock as part of an aggressive plan for more business, a fortuitous event shortly provided a godsend to the railway. In 1901, America's first gusher oil well the famous Lucas No. 1 came in with a roar near Beaumont, Texas, and the celebrated Spindletop Oil Field was underway. The resulting oil boom meant a new and continuing source of revenue for the line, for the area soon grew into the world's greatest oil and petrochemical refinery center. In recent years, the utilization of petroleum for synthetic rubber, chemicals, plastics, etc., has resulted in an amazing industrial development through the Port ArthurBeaumontLake Charles district. It was during this early oilboom period that Mr. Stuart R. Knott (b. April 11, 1859, d. February 11, 1943) was President of the railroad from 1900 to 1905. Knott spent the latter part of his life in Paris, and died at Grasse, AlpesMaritimes, France, supposedly in a Nazi concentration camp, during World War II in 1943.
Job A. Edson (b. February 14, 1854, d. July 30, 1928). who, as General Manager, had effected extensive improvements in the property and service after reorganization of the line, succeeded Stuart R. Knott as President in 1905.
By 1907, under President Edson's experienced guidance, the KCS had been built into a well equipped progressive property that was able to weather the depression which began the latter part of that year. Besides the heavy traffic in petroleum products, the transportation of such local resources as southern pine, hardwood timber and agricultural products was bringing in much revenue, and the development of the new State of Oklahoma which gained Statehood November 16, 1907, was supplying an appreciable volume of business.
Leonore Fresnel Loree (b. April 23, 1858, d. September 6, 1910) was President during Edson's brief absence as Federal Manager for Kansas City, Mexico & Orient, KCS and Midland Valley Railroads. June 1918 to February 1920.
Mr. Edson retired on December 31. 1927, after 22 years as President. He was succeeded by Charles E. Johnston (b. October 30, 1881, d. July 10, 1951), who had joined the Kansas City Southern in 1906 as locating engineer and, five years later, had risen to the position of chief engineer, when only thirty years of age.
High point in President Johnston's administration was the construction of a line called the Kansas City and Grandview Railway Company between Leeds, a suburb of Kansas City, and Grandview, Missouri. The new line, completed in the fall of 1929, closed a gap where leased trackage (from St. Louis San Francisco Railway) had been used since the beginning of through operations between Kansas City and the Gulf of Mexico, in 1897. (In 1991, this portion of SLSF trackage was abandoned and dismantled.)
The $3,000,000 project not only reduced the ruling grade from 1.6 percent to 0.5 percent, but it freed the railway of interruptions at times of high water and resulted in the avoidance of all road grade crossings except one in the 13 1/4mile stretch. Because of the rugged nature of the area, many deep cuts, high fills and long spans were required. Among several large concrete viaducts on the line, one is more than 500 feet long and 65 feet high. To cross one ravine and a highway, a steel span 875 feet long and 110 feet high was constructed. In more modern times, an additional bridge spanning Interstate 435 was constructed on this same line, and several overpass bridges were lengthened.
Mr. Johnston left the Kansas City Southern on January 1, 1939, to become Commissioner of Western Railroads and Chairman of the Western Association of Railway Executives (19391948). He was succeeded by Mr. Harvey C. Couch (b. August 21, 1877, d. July 30, 1941) on May 23, 1939, under whose leadership the Kansas City Southern obtained control of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company. Acquisition of the L&A added two more major port cities New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the system's operations sphere, and gave the Railway entrance into Dallas, Texas, on the L&A's "Texas Line"
The Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company was itself a combination of two lines the original Louisiana & Arkansas Railway and the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company. The original L&A was started about 1896 by William Buchanan (b. ****, d. October 26, 1923) for transporting logs to his sawmills at Stamps, Arkansas. As he bought and cut new tracts of timber, Buchanan gradually built the line southward.
On March 18, 1898, it was chartered as a common carrier, and was extended into Louisiana. Other small lines were purchased the gaps were closed and soon the L&A reached several important cities in Louisiana first city reached was Minden through the purchase of the Arkansas, Louisiana & Southern Railway, running from Cotton Valley, Louisiana, then the southern terminus of the Louisiana & Arkansas. to Sibley, Louisiana. The Arkansas, Louisiana & Southern was built in 1899 and was the successor to an extension of the Minden Railroad (commonly called The Minden Tap), which was built from Sibley to Minden in 1885. The Louisiana & Arkansas built south from Sibley in 1899, and operated over the Arkansas, Louisiana & Southern trackage until that line was purchased on June 1l, 1900. The extension south of Sibley was first to Ashland. Louisiana, the road having been completed into that point on September 25, 1900.
The next extension southward was to Winnfield, Louisiana, reached on May 31, 1902. Prior to the next extension the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company was organized and took over the property of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railroad Company.
The extension to Hope, Arkansas, to connect with the Missouri Pacific and the Frisco railroads, which had built into Hope simultaneously, was completed on June 1 1903.
On December 24, 1903 the line was extended south to Jena, Louisiana to reach large timber holdings in that vicinity, sawmills having been built at Trout and Good Pine. Jena was the southern terminus of the road until it was extended at Alexandria, Louisiana, from Packton, in 1906. Operation into Alexandria began on July 1, 1906.
A major step in the development of the property was the completion of the line into Shreveport largest and most important city in Northern Louisiana, on July 1, 1910. This extension was accomplished by the purchase of the Minden East & West Railroad, built westward from Minden by F. H. Drake as a logging road. Therefore, by 1910, a railroad of more than 300 miles had been built by William Buchanan without a cent of outside capital.
Service to Vidalia, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River, was effected on July 1, 1917, by lease of the Black River branch of the Missouri Pacific from Black River, opposite Jonesville, to Concordia Louisiana, and by trackage rights over the Missouri Pacific between Concordia and Vidalia. (The L&A holdings of this branch was disposed of in 1945).
At the same time, a German immigrant named William Edenborn (b. March 20, 1848, d. May 14, 1926), who came to America in 1867, was building a line in the Red River Valley between Shreveport and New Orleans. A former employee of the famous Krupp Works, Edenborn made the money to build his railroad in the steel business. He invented a machine for making wire nails, and is credited with personal production of the first coil of wire west of the Mississippi River. Later he became the first president of the American Steel and Wire Company forerunner of United States Steel.
He began construction of the Shreveport & Red River Valley Railroad about 1896. The line was completed between Shreveport and Coushatta, Louisiana, and began operating about October 1, 1898.
Continuing south, the line was completed to Alexandria, Louisiana, about May 1, 1902. About September 1, 1902, the road was finished between Alexandria and Mansura, Louisiana, and in the fall of that year construction of the Winnfield, Louisiana branch was begun.
The Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company was organized on May 9, 1903, to purchase all the property of the Shreveport & Red River Valley Railroad and to complete construction of the line into New Orleans. Through passenger service was inaugurated between Shreveport and New Orleans on April 14, 1907
On April 1, 1923, a branch of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway, originally known as the East Line & Red River Railroad Company, chartered March 22, 1871, and acquired by MKT in 1881, between the Louisiana/Texas State Line and McKinney, Texas, was purchased. Trackage rights were secured from the Texas & Pacific between Waskom, Texas, and Shreveport, and the Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company of Texas began operations April 1, 1923.
On January 16, 1928, control of the L&A and the LR&N was obtained by the Couch interests. L&A Railway Company was incorporated in Delaware, July 7, 1928; and the two properties were reorganized in the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company on May 8, 1929. On April 14, 1930. the corporate name of the Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company of Texas was changed to Louisiana. Arkansas & Texas Railway Company. L&A's passenger train, "The Shreveporter", was inaugurated December 30. 1928. operating from Shreveport and connecting with Missouri Pacific at Hope, Arkansas.
The "Texas" line was extended to Dallas, Texas, on July 1, 1932, through trackage rights with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad of Texas. On September 17. 1937, a connection was established with the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe (The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) at Farmersville, Texas, thence into Dallas, and operation over the MKT was discontinued. In 1992. negotiations for the purchase of this ATSF segment into Dallas began. to allow KCSL&A full ownership into the City of Dallas, Texas, and purchase was completed in 1995.
The Louisiana. Arkansas & Texas Railway was purchased by and became a part of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company July 1, 1939. The Kansas City Southern Railway Company obtained control of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway Company on October 20, 1939, and operated as two separate entities under one management until they were merged July 6, 1992, as The Kansas City Southern Railway Company. Four whollyowned branchline subsidiaries were also merged into KCS on this date, July 6, 1992: Kansas and Missouri Railway and Terminal Company (K&M); Fort Smith and Van Buren Railway Company (FS&VB); Arkansas Western Railway Company (A&W); and. Maywood and Sugar Creek Railway Company (Maywood). A brief history of the FS&W/FS&VB is as follows:
The Ft. Smith & Western Railroad was chartered in 1899 and opened its first 20 miles from Coal Creek to McCurtain, Oklahoma near the end of 1901. For the first 22 miles from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Coal Creek the road used trackage rights on the Kansas City Southern's Ft. Smith branch line to Spiro Oklahoma, then on the KCS main line from Spiro to Coal Creek. By the end of 1903 the entire line had been completed to Guthrie, Oklahoma, then the State Capital (18901910), where it connected with the Santa Fe, but lack of business put the road into receivership. In 1915 it acquired trackage rights over the MissouriKansasTexas from Fallis, Oklahoma, to Oklahoma City which had become the State Capital in 1910. It teamed up with the Missouri, Oklahoma & Gulf (later Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf) to provide through passenger service between Oklahoma City and Joplin, Missouri, via Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The Ft. Smith & Western Railway was incorporated in 1921 to purchase the Ft. Smith & Western Railroad and began operating it on February 1, 1923, but the great depression and severe droughts in the 1930's forced the line into hard times and the Katy (MKT) withdrew the trackage rights into Oklahoma City. The road ceased operations on February 9, 1939 and permission to abandon the line was granted in July 1939. Kansas City Southern's subsidiary Fort Smith & Van Buren acquired the original portion of the line from Coal Creek to McCurtain and the balance of the line west from McCurtain to Guthrie was scrapped.
Following the death of Harvey C. Couch on July 30, 1941, a group of Kansas City businessmen, in cooperation with individuals residing at other points along the line, as well as Dutch interests took over the management of the expanded property in 1944 and elected C. P. "Pete" Couch (b.August 16, 1890, d. June 5, 1955), who was Harvey Couch's brother, as KCS President on August 11, 1939. Under the resultant home ownership and management, The Kansas City Southern Lines made more rapid progress than ever.
Succeeding C. P. "Pete" Couch, was William Neal Deramus, born at Cooper, Alabama March 25, 1888 (d. December 2, 1965). As a boy, he tended switch lamps and swept the local railroad station in return for lessons in telegraphy. At age fifteen, he was a telegraph operator on the Louisville and Nashville. He joined the KCS in 1909 at age 21, and from that time on moved steadily upward to his election as President September 22, 1941.
During Deramus's presidency, Kansas City Southern Lines had an enviable operating record a record made possible by a longrange improvement program, designed not only to meet the current conditions of the times but to anticipate future needs. This program resulted in rebuilding practically the entire system the laving of 127 pound rail on much of the track, straightening of curves, reduction of grades, lengthening of passing tracks, the enlargement of yards and construction of the new yard facility, Deramus Yard, at Shreveport, Louisiana, in April 1956; the rebuilding and airconditioning of passenger stations and the modernization of shops, including the construction of new diesel shops at Pittsburg Kansas, and Deramus Yard. Shreveport.
Deramus Yards at Shreveport, Louisiana, named for W. N. Deramus, was officially dedicated March 24, 1956. Today, it remains the operating and dispatching hub for the Kansas City Southern Railway Company.
Kansas City Southern Lines were among the first railroads to use diesel power and make use of the radio-telephone to supplement established communications. The system began using diesel-electric locomotives on its "Flying Crow" passenger trains Kansas City to Port Arthur, Texas, in 1938. Shortly after, the road began supplanting steam freight locomotives with diesels, and the railroad was entirely dieselized by 1951 .
On September 2, 1940, the Kansas City Southern inaugurated its "Southern Belle" passenger train serving "Streamlined Hospitality" between Kansas City and New Orleans, via Shreveport. A beautiful 18yearold Baton Rouge, Louisiana, girl, Margaret Landry, was KCS's "Miss Southern Belle" spokesmodel for a number of years during and shortly after World War II. She was chosen by a KCS-sponsored beauty contest held in New Orleans during August 1940, just prior to the inauguration of the train. Immediately following World War II, completely new equipment was ordered for these trains, together with additional diesel-electric passenger and freight locomotives, and a variety of freight cars.
Because of prolonged delays to various causes, it was not until April 3, 1949, that the new "Southern Belle" trains began regular operation between Kansas City and New Orleans with an extension of this service to the Port Arthur/Beaumont/Lake Charles area by means of connections at Shreveport on much faster schedules.
Each of the new "Southern Belle" trains consisted of a 3000 horsepower diesel-electric locomotive, a baggage-mail-dormitory car, chair cars, 4 bedrooml/4 roomette Pullman sleeping cars (named for past KCS Presidents), a diner and tavern-lounge-observation car all incorporating the latest mechanical improvements for fast, efficient operation and the utmost in day and night comfort. Business Cars KAY SEE (built 1928) or TOLMAK (built 1966) could be seen rolling on the backend of these trains as KCS management would often travel over the railroad making inspections. (In 1995 the KAY SEE and the TOLMAK were renamed the KANSAS CITY and NEW ORLEANS respectively.
William N. Deramus III (b. December 10. 1915. d. November 15, 1989) succeeded his father in 1961 and led the KCS as President until July 31, 1973. Under Mr. Deramus' reign the KCS continued to improve by purchasing even greater numbers of freight cars, new EMD SD40 model diesel freight locomotives and even in the mid 1960's rebuilding of passenger equipment for the "Southern Belle". However, due to shrinking revenues of passenger service, and mounting losses, the "Flying Crow," a passenger train that began operation between Kansas City and Port Arthur, Texas on July 15, 1928, was discontinued May 10, 1968; and the famed "Southern Belle," known as the "Sweetheart of American Trains" was discontinued November 2, 1969. As President W. N. Deramus III remarked in a brochure explaining the reason for discontinuance, "We deeply regret the situation which brings about this action. (We, too, have loved the passenger train!)" This marked the end of passenger service on the Kansas City Southern Lines. Today, KCS does not operate any passenger service, nor is it part of the AMTRAK system.
Forging ahead with freight service however, the railroad made new advances in freight handling and train operation. 127 pound jointed rail was relaid with 136 pound Continuous-Welded-Rail (CWR) on the main line track. Yards were improved with the latest computerized equipment and microwave telephones were installed, linking each location on the railroad by telephone, radio and computer signals.
On January 29, 1962, Kansas City Southern Industries was incorporated for the purpose of engaging in diversified business and manufacturing enterprises. Under a stock exchange arrangement, The Kansas City Southern Railway Company then became a subsidiary of Kansas City Southern Industries. Inc. Both the Kansas City Southern Industries and The Kansas City Southern Railway Company make its home office at Eleventh and Wyandotte Streets, Kansas City, Missouri, where the Railway Company has been located in the same beautiful building since its construction in 1912.
While W. N. Deramus III took the role as Chairman of the Board for KCSI, Thomas S. Carter (b. June 6, 1921) presided over the railroad, strengthening bridges and improving poor track conditions to make way for heavy unit coal trains serving various new electric generating utility power plants along the KCS lines. Succeeding him was William N. Deramus IV (b. April 15, 1944), who attracted such innovative business as the movement of rocket motor sections for NASA's space program, and insisted on property cleanliness to enhance a safe working environment for rail workers.
Under the guidance of George W. Edwards (b. April 30, 1939), who succeeded William N. Deramus IV for the Presidency in 1991, the Kansas City Southern successfully carried unit trains of coal, grain and soda ash; intermodal, produce, wood and paper products, and petrochemicals to and from the Gulf of Mexico. KCS expanded its region with the acquisition of the Graysonia, Nashville and Ashdown Railroad and MidSouth Railroad [history of these carriers outlined in this text]; and purchase of ATSF property into the City of Dallas. Traffic rights north to Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, and south to Galveston, Texas, via the Union Pacific Railroad for the movement of grain, is also accessible to KCS.
New, powerful locomotives from ElectroMotive Division of General Motors are used to pull fast freight trains over the KCS route between the Midwest and the Gulf. Modern technology is utilized throughout the rail system. Most major terminals are equipped with microwave telephone voice, computer and FAX communications. Direct dispatchertotrain microwave assisted radio communication and Centralized Traffic Control (C.T.C.) allows all systemwide train dispatching to be handled from one centralized dispatcher's office in Shreveport. Louisiana. Even new videoteleconferencing has been installed so that officials can see facetoface the person they are conferencing with hundreds or even thousands of miles away
In May 1995, Michael R. Haverty (b. June 11, 1945) was brought in as President of KCS, bringing with him expertise from his presidential tenure with the Santa Fe, with thoughts of even greater expansion. These plans are incomplete at time of this writing.
Under George Edwards, two railroad properties interested the KCS as potential growth possibilities, and in 1993, merger was completed with both of them. First, a small shortline, the 31mile long Graysonia, Nashville and Ashdown Railroad, which connects with the KCS main line at Ashdown, Arkansas (about 15 miles north of Texarkana, Texas), and running east to Nashville, Arkansas.
(Excerpted from the book "Shortline Railroads of Arkansas's, by Clifton E. Hull, Copyright 1969 by the University of Oklahoma Press)
In 1905, a group of ambitious citizens in southwest Arkansas had sufficient faith in the future of the area to incorporate a railroad whose terminal points were to be Memphis, Tennessee, and Paris, Texas. On June 16, 1906, a new charter was granted the corporate title of Memphis, Paris & Gulf, a standardgauge road from Nashville, Arkansas, to Ashdown, Arkansas. twentyfive miles to the southwest, where connection could be made with the Kansas City Southern at Ashdown. The great incentive for building the road was the Nashville Lumber Company. The Memphis, Paris & Gulf (P&G) and the lumber firm were both incorporated at the same time by W. W. Brown and C. C. Henderson.
The railroad was financed by a capital stock issue of $375,000, owned predominantly by Brown; Henderson; R. E. Major, W. E. Barkman, and J. H. Hineman; and L. L. Cooper and T. M. Dodson. The MP&G would tap an area embracing many thousands of acres of heavily timbered land. This was being bought by BrownHenderson Improvement & Timber Company as quickly as its timber scouts could cruise the countryside and make satisfactory deals with the owners. When the road was completed, a steady supply of fine Arkansas pine lumber would be dispatched to the markets of America.
On June 20, 1906, surveyor equipment began to arrive at Nashville, with horses, wagons and tools. Early in July, the final route was established and bids were taken for the grading work. The year 1906 saw the beginning of immigration in the Nashville area. Through the sultry heat of summer, there was great activity around the campsites of the construction crews. Day by day, the roadbed was graded through the forest toward a promised connection with the KCS and the Frisco at Ashdown. Preparations were proceeding nicely for construction of the large sawmill at Nashville.
By October 1906, nine miles of roadbed had been graded and now awaited ties and rails. The first locomotive had been ordered and was expected to arrive at about the same time as the rails. On the morning of October 19, 1906, the first carload of rails for the MP&G arrived. About the first of November, additional rails were received and the anxiously awaited locomotive came rolling in.
Late in February 1907, the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill giving the MP&G permission to construct a bridge across Little River at White Cliffs. The first car of logs to travel over the MP&G rolled into the mill on April 27, 1907. With the coming of winter in 1907, the MP&G had joined the towns of Nashville and Ashdown. The full complement of passenger equipment had arrived on December 21 and was immediately pressed into service.
A momentous occasion for the 25 mile pike was April 13, 1908. when U. S. Mail Service was inaugurated. Business was very good on the MP&G. Two locomotives were running regularly on the main line, and another was kept busy trundling log trains out of the woods to sidings at strategic points along the main line. On the morning of March 3, 1908, contractor E. A. Williams was marking the outline of a new passenger and freight depot at Nashville, Arkansas.
Even while the rails were being pushed eastward to Murfreesboro, the MP&G was feeling growing pains. In the first week of February 1909, President W. W. Brown and Chief Engineer Le Mamla left Nashville on a scouting survey to find a suitable route into Hot Springs. It was finally decided that a line northeast from Murfreesboro to Shawmut on the Gurdon & Ft. Smith would be the most desirable route. The rails of the G& FtS would be available for trackage rights to Glenwood. Glenwood was the western terminus of the Hot Springs, Glenwood & Western Railroad. The HSG&W would give the MP&G trackage rights to within eighteen miles of Hot Springs. On August 20, 1909, W. W. Brown officially announced at Nashville that the MP&G was going to build into Hot Springs from Murfreesboro.
On May 17 1910. the stockholders of the MP&G held their annual meeting at Nashville. They increased the capital stock funding of the railroad to $6,260,000 in order to finance the eastern extension. At the same time, the corporate name was changed to Memphis, Dallas & Gulf. On October 6, 1910, the MD&G and the Prescott & Northwestern (P&NW) reached an agreement whereby they would operate trains over each other's tracks. It proved to be an advantage to the folks at Nashville.
When 1911 rolled around, business on the MD&G had increased beyond all expectations. The eastern extension of the rails began when, on Saturday, March 11, 1911, Superintendent Dodson announced that he had awarded a contract to T. H. Sater for building east from Murfreesboro. Early in June 1911, the people of Hot Springs began to show renewed interest in the MD&G. Colonel Sam W. Fordyce thought so much of it that he offered to pay onefifth of the $100,000 cash bonus which had been offered the MD&G. The people of Hot Springs had waited long and patiently for another rail outlet. Now the MD&G would give Hot Springs access to the abundant harvests of grain, cotton, and garden produce in southeast Arkansas, things badly needed And the extra passenger traffic would be profitable, too.
Early in April 1913, Chief Engineer W. P. Hart began organizing and equipping a survey crew to establish the final alignment into Hot Springs. Tracklaying east from Murfreesboro to Shawmut began on May 7, 1913. The attitude of folks between Murfreesboro and Hot Springs seemed very favorable. The time was drawing near for running trains to Hot Springs.
The first steel span of the bridge across the Ouachita River was swung into place January 20, 1914. A huge celebration was held March 17, 1914, in honor of the first train into Hot Springs. There were numerous speeches by politicians, railroad officials, and many of the notable visitors, as well as parades, auto races, a picnic and a baseball game. The night was finished off with balls and banquets at the city's leading hotels.
Connecting of the MD&G rails with those of the Gurdon & Ft. Smith was made at Shawmut on March 17, 1915. The first train to run from Hot Springs arrived at Nashville at 7:15 PM, March 18. 1915. Through service from Hot Springs to Texarkana, over the KCS from Ashdown, was inaugurated March 21 1915!
Just when things were beginning to look rosy for the 115mile MD&G, misfortune struck. With rumblings of World War I coming from Europe, the financial situation was most unstable. After the war, the MD&G never had a chance to recover. On August 15, 1922. it was sold at public auction in Nashville by receiver Martin Walsh. The former stockholders bought it, and it was reorganized as the Graysonia Nashville & Ashdown. The Interstate Commerce Commission lent the GN&A $250,000.00 to continue operations from Ashdown to Shawmut, a distance of only 61 miles. The years which followed were evil
days for the GN&A, even as they were for railroads everywhere. Henry Ford had begun flooding the country with an avalanche of automobiles, and the family car soon became a nemesis to the passenger train even as the truck was making inroads in the freighttrain monopoly as rapidly as highways could be built.
The new management began to tighten its belt. The timber lands were being cut over, and the remaining logs were going to the mill aboard trucks. The rails between Murfreesboro and Hot Springs were taken up. By 1926, the MurfreesboroNashville Southwestern Railway had taken over operations between these two towns, and the GN&A became a 32mile line from Nashville to Ashdown. The GN&A managed to keep its head above water until the Ideal Cement Company began an extensive operation at Okay, Arkansas. Seeing the advantage of having its own means of transportation, it purchased the railroad in 1927. Since Ideal Cement took over, the GN&A has fared rather well. The railroad has always been an integral part of the cement plant's operation.
In 1954, 40% of its cement production was shipped by rail. About 75% of the GN&A's business is cement. In the late 1940's, a Chevrolet truck was equipped with flanged wheels and was to be used as an economical experiment in delivering mail and express on a daily roundtrip basis between Nashville and Ashdown. Passenger service was discontinued in 1947. In 1951, steam disappeared from the roster of the GN&A when a 660horsepower diesel was acquired. In the early 1960's, the GN&A and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers reached agreement on efforts to do something about the unpredictable flooding rampages of the Little River.
Millwood Dam, named for the deserted community of Millwood, a few miles east of Ashdown, would inundate approximately 20 miles of the GN&A. The Ideal Cement Company limestone quarry would lie 60 feet below the surface of the lake to be backed up by the dam. The Corps of Engineers agreed to building a 3 I/2 mile levee to protect the quarry and to rebuild the railroad from a point just south of Mineral Springs to Ashdown, with the new rails laid across the face of the dam. The dam was dedicated in December 1966.
The Graysonia, Nashville & Ashdown rolls along on rails toward new and prosperous days a successful Arkansas shortline railroad, acquired by The Kansas City Southern Railway Company July 13, 1993.
(Excerpted from "Rebirth of the Vicksburg Route" by
Louis R. Saillard,
appearing in TRAINS Magazine, April 1989, Pages 3041)
The largest acquisition of any other railroad since acquiring the L&A in 1939, was that of the 1,212mile long MidSouth Railroad. MidSouth connects with the KCS at Shreveport, Louisiana, and heads due east across the State of Louisiana, to Vicksburg, Mississippi, then easterly still through Jackson and on to Meridian, Mississippi. The main line turns north to Artesia, Mississippi, then east again to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and finally (via trackage rights) into Birmingham, Alabama; with other branches reaching into Counce, Tennessee, and down to Gulfport, Mississippi. This now gives KCS (traditionally a northsouth railroad) a new eastwest route between Dallas Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama!
KCS's latest acquisition, MidSouth Rail Corporation (MSRC), has historic roots some 50 years older than KCS's own origin. The Clinton & Vicksburg Railroad (later the Vicksburg & Jackson) was incorporated in 1833 and pushed 42lb. Trail eastward by 1836. A new steam locomotive called the COMMERCIAL was put in regular service May 15, 1838.
By 1810, the Vicksburg & Jackson was connecting its namesake cities, and in conjunction with work done by other companies, trains were running across the State of Mississippi from Vicksburg to Meridian, 140 miles, by June 3, 1861. Across the river from Vicksburg, at Delta Point, Louisiana, the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas was in the last stages of connecting the Mississippi River with Ouachita River at Monroe, Louisiana. Having enhanced the commercial importance of their city above the Great River, the people of Vicksburg then watched while much of their labor and investment was destroyed by the Civil War (1861 to 1865) that followed. The city's strategic, and easily defended, location resulted in a devastating siege (May 19 to July 4, 1863). In Mississippi, military action west of Meridian in 1864 destroyed 51 bridges and removed four miles of track and by 1865, the crossstate line was exhausted both physically and financially.
PostCivil War progress, at first frustrating, ultimately became encouraging. The railroads on both sides of the river at Vicksburg were reorganized. In 1870, construction in Alabama gave Vicksburg an allrail link to the East for the first time. To the west, the VS&T, renamed the North Louisiana & Texas, was rebuilt and resumed through service on July 1, 1870. Times were still desperate in the Reconstruction South. though, and the NL&T soon collapsed financially. In 1879, it emerged from bankruptcy with a new name that would last: Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific. On August 1, 1884, the VS&P was completed to Shreveport, and a connection with the Texas & Pacific, brightened the future of Vicksburg.
The tracks east of Vicksburg in 1870 were known as the Southern Railroad of Mississippi (no connection to the later Southern Railway), later reorganized as the Vicksburg & Meridian, but like the NL&T across the river, failed to prosper. On February 1, 1889, the Vicksburg & Meridian was sold under foreclosure to the owners of the Queen & Crescent System and organized March 18th as the Alabama & Vicksburg. The Q&C had already purchased control of the VS&P in 1881, so now controlled a "Y"shaped system centered in Meridian, with legs extending to Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Shreveport. On October 27, 1885, inclines had been completed at Vicksburg on the river, and through freight and passenger service across the river had begun via rail transfer steamer.
The tracks from Meridian to Shreveport remained part of the Q&C System from 1889 to 1926 and prospered. With the financial backing needed to properly operate the line for the first time in its history, the combined A&VVS&P was improved and upgraded.
On October 24, 1892, the northsouth Louisville, New Orleans & Texas became part of the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad, an Illinois Central subsidiary, and Vicksburg remained a busy railroad town into the 20th Century. Even in the 1920's six daily passenger trains served the city in each direction on both the eastwest and the old LNO&T lines. After World War I, the MeridianShreveport main was promoted as "The Vicksburg Route."
The five rail lines which made up the old Queen & Crescent System were eventually dispersed to other railroads. In 1926 the A&V and VS&P were, like the LNO&T, leased to Illinois Central's Y&MV (the "Yazoo"). The IC apparently saw promise in the line, because the initial lease period was 357 years, with a privilege of renewal for 999 years more!
Shortly thereafter, Vicksburg's rail transportation status was enhanced with completion on April 28, 1930, of a bridge across the Mississippi River by the citizens of Warren County, Mississippi, for both highway and rail traffic. This allowed the elimination of the steam transfer boats. The hazardous bridge was bypassed on October 17, 1977, when the Interstate 20 bridge, built 330 feet downstream from the old structure, was opened. The old bridge remains open to local highway traffic.
With the absorption of the A&V and VS&P, the Illinois Central ruled supreme in the rail system of Vicksburg, as well as in much of Mississippi. As an example of its passenger service, information
provided from an April 1953 issue of THE OFFICIAL (RAILWAY) GUIDE, Illinois Central ran daily Train No. 205, westbound. Meridian to Shreveport, called "Southwestern Limited"; Train No. 226, eastbound, Shreveport to Meridian, called "Northeastern Limited". Passenger service on the Vicksburg Route continued until 1968. IC became Illinois Central Gulf with the 1972 merger of the Magnolia State's other major railroad. the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. A portion of the northsouth MidSouth line through Meridian, acquired by KCS, was formerly Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. Also noted from the April 1953 issue of THE OFFICIAL (RAILWAY) GUIDE, GM&O ran trains between St. Louis. Missouri, and Mobile, Alabama, via Meridian, northbound Train No. 16 and southbound Train No. 16. called "Gulf Coast Rebel".
As the 1970's waned. however, the ICG began the piecemeal abandonment and sale of the old LNO&T secondary main. By 1985. ICG had several large spin-off sales pending. On March 31, 1986. the MidSouth Rail Corporation was formed and purchased the ShreveportMeridian main line and other branches from ICG, including a disconnected line between Hattiesburg and Gulfport. Mississippi. MidSouth's first day of operation was April 1, 1986. Approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission June 4 1993, the merger and first day of consolidated operation with The Kansas City Southern Railway Company took place on January 11 1994. With the merger, came Business Car PROSPECTOR, repainted and renamed for KCS's founder, ARTHUR E. STILWELL, in 1995.
Looking toward the year 2002, KCS still maintains the same vision just as Arthur Stilwell had intended: THE SHORTEST ROUTE FROM KANSAS CITY TO SALT WATER The Kansas City Southern Railway Company!
Page maintained for the Kansas City Southern Historical Society by Karl M. Bernard.