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The Katy Railroad or MKT Railroad

Updated on July 11, 2017

I've lived all my life within a very short distance of the MKT or Katy Railroad. It's been as much a part of my life as any other facet of my central Texas upbringing.

I remember as a small girl, my dad would take me to the Katy switch-yards and Warden shop in the small town of Bellmead, Texas (near Waco) where I grew up. It was commonly referred to as the Katy Shops. It was fascinating to see so many train tracks converging in one area.

Trains have always made my heart race just a bit. I often wondered why. In my early 20s my mother revealed to me that as a small child we lived in a house that sat very close to the tracks and a train startled me pretty badly once. I guess that explains it.

I thought I would share a little bit about the MKT, or Katy Railroad with you.

MKT (Missouri, Kansas, Texas) Railroad also know as Katy Railroad
MKT (Missouri, Kansas, Texas) Railroad also know as Katy Railroad

MKT or Katy Railroad Fast Facts

  • The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was better known as simply The Katy
  • It was nicknamed The Katy because K-T was it's stock exchange symbol.
  • The railroad runs north-south through Missouri, Kansas and Texas, hence the M, the K and the T. It was the first railroad to enter Texas through the north.
  • The Katy Railroad dates back to 1865 when the Union Pacific Railway (later changed to the Missouri Kansas and Texas Railroad in 1870) was chartered to build a line connecting Junction City, Kansas to New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was incorporated May 23, 1870
  • It was leased to the Missouri Pacific in 1880 and became part of the Jay Gould empire for a time, which lasted until 1888. The biggest advantage the Katy gained from this leasing was that it acquired new markets and reached cities like Fort Worth, Dallas, and Waco, Texas.
  • On June 6, 1870, Katy laid the first rails across the Kansas border
  • The Katy Railroad continued to lay rails southward reaching Dallas in 1886, Waco in 1888, Houston in 1893, San Antonio in 1901
  • Once they reached Houston, the joint ownership of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad gave the Katy immediate access to the Port of Galveston
  • In 1896, as a publicity stunt the Katy crashed two locomotives at a site that came to be known thereafter as Crush, Texas. It is located about 14 miles north of Waco. I have written a hub about this incident.
  • From 1915 until January 4, 1959, the Katy, in a joint venture with the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, also known as the Frisco, operated the Texas Special. This luxury passenger train ran from St. Louis to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and San Antonio. It had rail cars with famous Texas names like Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, David Crockett, and James Bowie.
  • In 1988 the Katy Railroad was bought out by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Presidents of the MKT Railroad

  • Charles E. Schaff, 1923-1926
  • Charles N. Whitehead, 1926
  • Columbus Haile, 1927-1930
  • Michael H. Cahill, 1930-1934
  • Matthew S. Sloan, 1934-1945
  • Donald V. Fraser, 1945-1956
  • William N. Deramus III, 1957-1961
  • Charles T. Williams, 1961-1965
  • John W. Barriger III, 1965-1970
  • Reginald N. Whitman, 1970-1975
  • Harold L. Gastler, 1975-1988

Color Schemes for the Locomotives, Rolling Stock, & Cabooses

  • 1870-1947 the steam locomotives were shiny black with the MKT herald on their coal cars (tenders)
  • 1947-1957 Diesels were bright red with silver side panels and cream yellow on top of the nose hoods. Passenger cars were painted to match. Boxcars, cabooses, and other rolling stock were frequently painted Sloan Yellow (named for MKT President Matthew S. Sloan)
  • 1957-1965 Diesels were painted an orange-red with yellow MKT and road numbers. The herald was changed to read simply "Katy" in red letters on a gold background. The text and herald were outlined in black.
  • 1965-1971 The Katy returned to a bright red paint, perhaps deeper than the original 1947 through 1957. They also returned to the original herald.
  • 1971-1988 Diesel Locomotives, cabooses, and other rolling stock were painted green with yellow stripes, lettering and numbering.

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    • profile image

      Arthur L. Daniel 

      6 years ago

      Enjoyed your website. I am a third generation Katy employee.I started as a messenger boy in San Antonio in 1950, later worked as a clerk in Houston, and then to Dallas as a switchman and retired as a yardmaster . My grandfather was a yardmaster at Sloan Yard in San Antonio and my Dad and uncle were swithcmen there.

    • profile image

      Betty King 

      6 years ago

      I can tell my wole story later but at the moment I am trying to find the address of the Katy Office and Warehouse builing in Houston, Texas in the 1930's, 40's, 50's. My father was the warehouse foreman and I was at the building many times. I think Hardy Street may have been on the west side of the building but I am not sue and I don't know the name of the east/west street in front of the building.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Kathy Duffy wrote:

      I'm looking for any info on Hugh Duffy who worked for the Katy in/around 1940. He is my husband's uncle. I heard he could have been an engineer. Would any of you know where I could get info? Thank you.

      Kathy

      kduffy@du.edu

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for stopping by Leah. I've heard stories of quite a few people who lost their hearing from all the noise there. Bet it was something!

    • profile image

      Leah R. 

      7 years ago

      My grandfather, Everett Edsol January Sr., worked for the Katy in Waco. He lost his hearing working in the round house.

      His father worked there for a little while, but his legs were bad and couldn't take all the walking.

      Love the history!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you for stopping by Al. It was pretty common for generations to work there, wasn't it?

    • profile image

      Al 

      7 years ago

      Just found u. thanks.

      Katy was it to granddad,dad and me..when i locked my station door and walked away in 87

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Awesome Peggy! Thanks! I just added your link here too!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi KCC...Happily linked your hub to my Los Patios hub. Done!

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Awesome, Texas Takeover. I bet it was a great experience. Thanks for stopping by. Hope it stirred some fond memories for you.

    • profile image

      Texas Takeover 

      9 years ago

      I used to live by the MKT building

      Great experience

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks Peggy! Once you post it I can add your link to mine as well. I have a couple of other related hubs, one is about the Crash at Crush and one is about steam railroad excursions.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a great hub! Plan to include it with the one I am now working on regarding Los Patios in San Antonio where the old Katy Railroad window now resides. I also did an original linocut of that window. Happy to have stumbled upon this hub! Thanks for all your good research and interesting tidbits.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I dunno dohn....sounds like a good hub topic for YOU to research and write a hub about. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 

      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Hi, KCC Big Country, a great and fun hub. Just a question as a kind of myth buster: Do you know if train robberies occurred during the mid-to-late 19th century? I remember seeing them in old westerns and would like to know its validity.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Awwww..thank you Maggs! That is actually how I determine what to write about. I think of something that I have experienced, or means something to me, like memories from the past, and then ask myself if the topic could be of interest to anyone else. Then I do the research to gather the factual parts. The hub then becomes a mixture of my personal experience and a bit of trivia. Thanks for stopping by, as always!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 

      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I love Hubpages you get to read juicy titbits and find out odd facts written with just enough personal background to transform the interesting into the fascinating.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      This song you're talking about was in the information I researched for this hub. There were also a couple of others. I almost included a bit about that, but decided not to in the end. But, yes, that is what the Katy is. Thanks for stopping by Eric!

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      9 years ago from Australia

      There's a song in the film "The Blues Brothers" that goes:

      "She caught the Katy, left me a mule to ride".

      I always wondered what the Katy was.

      Thanks for letting me know :)

      Hope I'm not infringing on lgali's copyright, but:

      "Great Hub"

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR

      KRC 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL...what about "My Baby Thinks He's a Train" by Roseanne Cash?

    • caymanhost profile image

      caymanhost 

      9 years ago from Cayman Islands

      This one made me think of the song "Jenny Dreams Of Trains" that I always loved (The Vince Gill version please). The fact that it's all about trains probably has something to do with that ;-)

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