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John L. Hodson Collection of Non-Santa Fe Railroad Documents

Ms. Collection No. 742

 

Historical Sketch

Settlement of the Trans-Mississippi West accelerated dramatically because of the development of the railroad. Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley both estimated that it would take about one hundred years to inhabit and settle the West, but in fact the West was settled in a few decades due mostly to the advent of the railroads.

Between the Civil War and World War I, the national population tripled. However, railroad growth was significantly greater than that. The federal government took an active role in Western railroad development by means of granting land to the railroads.

An unfavorable aspect of late nineteenth century railroad history was rampant corruption. This existed in the form of inflated construction costs, and discriminatory freight rates: The railroad barons would often give reduced rates to other industrialists, while charging Western and Midwestern farmers excessively high rates to transport agricultural produce.

Rate discrimination against the farmers resulted in the farmers organizing the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, which, in turn, pressured state legislatures to pass freight rate legislation. Later, when the United States Supreme Court decreed that state regulation of interstate commerce was unconstitutional, the Grange pressured the federal government to establish the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate interstate commerce.

Other important aspects of the Golden Age of railroad history was the standardization of rail track, the development of larger and more powerful locomotives, improved freight cars to hold more freight, the air brake, and improved car couplers. Standard time zones, established in 1883, was another side effect of the railroad growth and development. Because of the railroads, markets grew from being regional to national.

Railroad Company Sketches

Missouri-Kansas-Texas

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad developed in the late 1860's to connect Missouri with Texas and its vast natural resources, primarily beef.

This railroad eventually acquired the nickname "Katy" as a derivative of its full name. It was also known as the M-K-T.

Construction of the railroad, overseen by Robert S. W. Stevens, spurred the founding of Parsons, Kansas-named after the railroad's president-and Denison, Texas-named after the vice president.

Eventually, the Katy Railroad extended to the Gulf of Mexico.

Jay Gould, the quintessential industrialist and railroad baron of the Gilded Age, bought the Katy as part of his business expansion enterprises and operated it as part of his Missouri Pacific empire from 1880 through 1888. Following reorganizations in 1895 and 1922, the Katy operated independently until 1989 when it became part of the Missouri Pacific Lines.

Missouri Pacific Lines

The Missouri Pacific Railroad ("MoP") started out as a rather minor railroad linking St. Louis with Kansas City. Jay Gould acquired this railroad and eventually transformed it into the centerpiece of a rail network which was to become one of the major railroads of the American West. Other railroads added to this rail system were the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern; the Missouri-Kansas-Texas; the Texas and Pacific; and the International & Great Northern. The railroad reorganized in 1917 and 1933-56. In 1928, the Missouri Pacific gained control of the Texas & Pacific, and the MoP purchased the Chicago & Eastern Illinois in 1967; the three railroads officially merged in 1976. In 1982, the Missouri Pacific was acquired by the Union Pacific, and the two companies formally merged in 1997.

St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co.

The origins of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway go as far back as 1853, when Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple led an expedition of politicians, business entrepreneurs, engineers, and geologists through several Western waterways. The purpose of this expedition was to promote the idea of a Western railroad that would connect the eastern United States with the American gateway of Oriental commerce, San Francisco.

The Asian market was one which promised great potential, and the development of a snow-free rail system from the eastern U.S. to the ports on the Pacific Ocean seemed like a great idea. In reality, however, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway was fraught with financial problems, mismanagement, scandal and plain bad luck. In the end, the SL-SF, or Frisco, which went through bankruptcy reorganization four times, ultimately ended in failure.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad bought the SL-SF in 1890. The SL-SF, being such an unprofitable railroad, hastened the near bankruptcy and receivership of the ATSF in 1893, which later led to reorganization in December of 1895 under the name Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. After a reorganization in 1916, the Frisco operated as an independent company until it merged with the Burlington Northern in 1980.

Southern Pacific Railroad Co.

Founded by the "Big Four:" Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis Porter Huntington, and Leland Stanford, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company grew out of Central Pacific Railroad expansion in the 1860s.

The Southern Pacific Railroad Company received its charter in 1868 and in 1870 organized to build the rail line from San Francisco to the Colorado River.

The Southern Pacific had a monopoly in California and Nevada and charged the highest rates in the country.

Leland Stanford was president of the SP in the 1870s, but with time, managing power shifted to C. P. Huntington. By 1890, Huntington became president of the railroad. At that time, the Southern Pacific stretched from Portland, Oregon, through California, across the Southwest to New Orleans, and from San Francisco to Ogden, Utah.

By 1898 control of the SP and the Central Pacific transferred to Edward H. Harriman and remained with him until 1909. The Union Pacific owned a controlling interest in the SP and operated it between 1901 and 1913. In 1932, the SP acquired control of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, commonly known as the "Cotton Belt." Following an unsuccessful merger attempt with the Santa Fe, the SP was purchased in 1988 by Rio Grande Industries, owner of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW), and the D&RGW, SP, and Cotton Belt operated as Southern Pacific Lines. It was purchased by Union Pacific in 1996.

The Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway Co.

The QA&P was a small, regional railroad operating in northwest Texas. Its origins go back to the Acme, Red River & Northern Railroad near the turn of the century. At the time the QRR&N was essentially a plant facility (a private railroad operating for a private company) serving the Acme Cement Plaster Company of Acme, Texas.

Samuel L. Lazarus, an entrepreneur with a wide variety of business interests, became the president of the Acme Plaster Company in 1898. He used the QRR&N railroad for his gypsum business in northwest Texas, where gypsum is plentiful. However, he had a troubled relationship with the Railroad Commission of Texas because his "railroad" served the Acme Plaster Company almost exclusively. In order to get a charter to operate the QRR&N "railroad" as a railroad, Lazarus ultimately had to find backers in the form of interested businessmen who were willing and able to invest in rail expansion and construct new rail track in western Texas, toward the Pacific Ocean.

Lazarus succeeded in both enterprises, the second being more tricky in that western Texas was sparsely settled. Lazarus was wary of building in an area where there were few people, but had vision in forecasting where people would move and where population would grow. Lazarus received his charter for the new Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway Company in 1910. It became an independently operated part of the Frisco (St. Louis-San Francisco) system and ceased operation as a separate firm soon after the Frisco's incorporation into the Burlington Northern system in 1980.

Union Pacific Railroad Co.

The Union Pacific Railroad Company was created as a result of the Pacific Railroad Act of 1863. Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act because of the Civil War need for transportation to the Pacific Ocean.

Preliminary construction efforts began in 1863 but the first rail was not laid until 1865. Construction westward started at Council Bluffs, Iowa, which was the eastern terminus of the railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad Company laid track from San Francisco eastward simultaneously. The two railroads met at Promontory, Utah, in May of 1869. These two railroads completed construction rapidly in spite of primitive construction methods and harassing attacks from hostile Indians.

The consolidation of the Union Pacific Railroad, the Kansas Pacific Railway Co., and Denver Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company instigated a new corporation known as the Union Pacific Railroad Company in 1880. Later reorganizations would occur in 1893, . In 1901, the UP assumed control of the Southern Pacific, an arrangement that would last until 1913. In 1960, the UP began a fourteen-year attempt to merge with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific that ended when acquisition of the Rock Island became financially unfeasible. The Union Pacific merged with the Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific in 1982. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad merged with the UP's Missouri Pacific subsidiary in 1988. In 1994, the UP made an unsuccessful bid to buy the Santa Fe; the next year the Union Pacific acquired the Chicago & North Western. In 1996, the UP and Southern Pacific merged. The following year, the UP and its Missouri Pacific subsidiary formally merged.

Scope and Content

This collection contains small quantities of material from six different railroads: the Missouri-Kansas Texas Railroad; the Missouri Pacific Lines; the Quanah, Acme and Pacific; the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co.; the Southern Pacific Railroad; and the Union Pacific Railroad, ranging from 1890 to 1980.

These materials were accumulated by John L. Hodson of St. Louis, Missouri, who conveyed them to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1993. Because the railroad collection at the Kansas State Historical Society concentrates on the Santa Fe Railway, these materials were separated from the Santa Fe Collection.

Most of the series in the collection are contained in separate boxes. The researcher wanting to study the material on one particular railroad company will need only one box.

The type of materials contained in this collection are wide and varied. However, most of the folders contain railroad standards and standard plans (i.e. blueprints of railroad cars, track, locomotives and railroad equipment), and paint color schedules. For railroad enthusiasts, these kinds of records are valuable for restoration projects.

Contents List

Box Folder  
    Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Co.
1 1 Paint chip (green).
1 2 Standard Plans, 1929 (1 of 2).
1 3 Standard Plans, 1929 (2 of 2).
1 4 Timetable, No. 1, 1968.
    Missouri Pacific Lines
2 1 Railroad Standards, 1929 (1 of 2).
2 2 Railroad Standards, 1929 (2 of 2).
    Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway Co.
3 1 Correspondence, 1977-80
3 2 Route Maps, 1918-76.
    St. Louis - San Francisco Ry. Co.
3 3 Route Maps, n.d.
3 4 Paint Chip (red).
3 5 Railroad Passes, 1890-1930.
3 6 Rules for the Maintenance of Way and Structures.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Co.
4 1 Standard Plans (bound form).
4 2 Time Table, 1957.
    Union Pacific Railroad Co.
5 1 Paint Color Schedule for Passenger & Freight
    Stations (Int. & Ext.) 1956.
5 2 Painting, Lettering, Numbering, 1932-52.
5 3 Standard Drawings, 1900.
5 4 Standard Drawings (bound form).
5 5 Steam Locomotives: Specifications and Blueprints.
5 6 Miscellaneous.

Additional Information for Researchers

Processed by

Robert A. McInnes, 1995.

Volume

1 ft. (5 boxes)

Provenance

The John L. Hodson Non-Santa Fe Railroads Collection came to the Kansas State Historical Society from John L. Hodson in 1993.

Preferred Citation

Citations referring to this collection should include the John L. Hodson Non-Santa Fe Railroads Collection, ms. collection no. 742, Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society.

Information concerning copyright is available in the repository.