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The Missouri Pacific Railroad , also known as the MoPac, was one of the first railroads in the United States west of the Mississippi River. The company came under control of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1982.


On July 4, 1851, at St. Louis, Missourimarker, ground-breaking for the Pacific Railroad marked the beginning of what would later be known as the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The first section of track was completed in 1852. In 1865, it became the first railroad to serve Kansas Citymarker, after construction was interrupted by the American Civil War. In 1872, the Pacific Railroad was reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railway by new investors after a railroad debt crisis. Because of corporate ties extending back to the Pacific Railroad, Missouri Pacific at one time advertised itself as being The First Railroad West of the Mississippi.

From 1879 to 1915, Missouri Pacific was under the control of highly successful but extremely controversial New York financier Jay Gould. Gould developed a system extending through Coloradomarker, Nebraskamarker, Arkansasmarker, Texasmarker, and Louisianamarker. In 1917 the line was merged with the St Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway (SLIMS) and reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Missouri Pacific later acquired or gained a controlling interest in other lines in Texas, including the Gulf Coast Lines, International-Great Northern Railroad, and the Texas and Pacific Railway.

The Missouri Pacific 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), 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).

By the 1980s the system would own 11,469 miles of rail line over 11 states bounded by Chicagomarker to the east, Pueblo, Coloradomarker, in the west, north to Omahamarker, south to the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texasmarker, and southeast along the Gulf seaports of Louisianamarker. MoPac operated a fleet of over 1,500 diesel locomotives, most all purchased within the previous 10 years. The company was 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 "Union Pacific System", under the holding company Union Pacific Corporation, but maintained its own corporate and commercial identity until January 1, 1997. Union Pacific continued to use the MoPac headquarters building at 210 N. 13th St. in downtown St. Louis, MOmarker for its customer service center until February 15, 2005. Union Pacific now has about 50 employees remaining at the St. Louis office. The MoPac building is slated for rehabilitation as offices, condominiums, and/or retail space.

On July 30, 2005, Union Pacific unveiled a brand new EMD SD70ACe locomotive, Union Pacific 1982, with Missouri Pacific paint and logos, as part of a new heritage program.

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. Louismarker, Kansas Citymarker, and Pueblo, Coloradomarker. Between Pueblomarker and Salt Lake Citymarker, the Scenic Limited operated through the Royal Gorge over the tracks of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. From Salt Lake Citymarker to San Franciscomarker, the Scenic Limited operated over the Western Pacific Railroad. A second premier train, the Sunshine Special began operating on December 5, 1915 between St. Louismarker, Little Rockmarker, Austinmarker and San Antoniomarker. Another named train, the Rainbow Special was placed in service in July 1921 between Kansas Citymarker and Little Rock, Arkansasmarker. 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 its 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. Louismarker to Kansas Citymarker and Omahamarker), the Delta Eagle (Memphis, Tennesseemarker to Tallulah, Louisianamarker), the Colorado Eagle (St. Louis, Missourimarker to Pueblomarker and Denvermarker, the Texas Eagle (St. Louismarker to Texasmarker), and the Valley Eagle (Houstonmarker to Corpus Christimarker and Brownsville, Texasmarker). 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 St. Louis and Kansas City to New Orleans, via Little Rock), Southern Scenic (between Kansas City and Memphis), Sunflower (between St. Louis and Kansas City), 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. Louismarker to Kansas Citymarker 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. Louismarker, Little Rockmarker, Dallasmarker, Austinmarker, San Antoniomarker, and Laredomarker.


  • based on article at Screaming Eagles
  • Goen, Steve Allen (1997) Texas & Pacific Color Pictorial, Four Ways West Publications, La Miradamarker, CAmarker. ISBN 1-885614-17-9
  • Stout, Greg (1995) Route of the Eagles, Missouri Pacific in the Streamlined Era, White River Productions, Bucklinmarker, MOmarker. ISBN 0-9659040-3-2

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