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Transportation Company - Kansas City Southern - Railroad

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Transportation Company - Kansas City Southern - Railroad
Company Name Kansas City Southern
Company Web Site Link
Category Railroad
Year Founded 1890
Country United States (Details)
Source of Text Bluford Shops
Text Credit URL Link
Transportation Company - Kansas City Southern - Railroad



Company History: KCS began (with a different name) in 1890 under the direction of Arthur Stilwell for the purpose of building a railroad from Kansas City directly south along the Missouri – Kansas, Arkansas – Oklahoma, and Louisiana – Texas borders to the Gulf of Mexico. At the point where the railroad met the Gulf, Stillwell built a port complex and named it after himself, Port Arthur, Texas. Two years later, the company defaulted on a loan, Stilwell was kicked out and they changed the name of the railroad to Kansas City Southern. Stilwell went on to build the Kansas City Mexico & Orient.

The KCS steam fleet was, well, peculiar. They were the only railroad to use 0-6-6-0’s, not as heavy switchers, not as pushers, but as mainline road engines. 2-8-8-0’s were also used for heavy road service with Santa Fe types and Consolidations filling out the freight roster. 11 Pacifics handled the passenger trains. They were odd first in that they had 2 sand domes (rare on passenger power.) Second, they had a high mounted headlight but without a number plate in the middle of the smokebox door, giving the front a strange “faceless” appearance. A few of these Pacifics assigned to the Kansas City – Port Arthur “Flying Crow” were equipped with air horns that sounded like a cawing crow… Really! KCS also had 2 Shays used to muscle cars up and down the 10% grades of many Kansas City industrial spurs. (If you’ve been to Kansas City, you will understand why.) The pinnacle of the fleet was the J class 2-10-4’s, purchased to replace the 0-6-6-0’s in 1937. These were the last Texas types built by Lima and had sleek, jacketed boilers and enclosed cabs.

In 1939, the KCS acquired the Louisiana & Arkansas which ran from Dallas east to Shreveport and then New Orleans. Actually, it was the owners of the L&A that bought the KCS but for charter reasons, the deal was arranged so that KCS took control of L&A. L&A remained semi-autonomous in an SP-Cotton Belt sort of way. This brought the KCS system to over 1,660 miles (between Grand Trunk Western and Delaware & Hudson in relative size.) The L&A image began to fade away in the 1960s but it wasn’t fully merged into KCS until 1992.

Dieselization came primarily from EMD with E’s pulling the Flying Crow and Southern Belle, and F’s in freight service. These were delivered in the classic red, black and yellow with red being dominant on the freight units and yellow on the passenger units. A-B-B-A sets of Erie Builts were also used in freight service but were notorious for breaking knuckles on the hog-back hills of the Ozarks.

Switchers and first generation hood units were delivered in black with white trim (much like Illinois Central) with the name spelled out on the long hood. Hood units and switchers came from EMD, Alco, Baldwin and FM.

In the 1960s, the paint scheme was simplified to a solid red. This became known as Deramus Red after the line’s CEO William Deramus II. Deramus’s son (William III) was head of Chicago Great Western and later M-K-T, both of which used similar reds. While William II was a reasonably adept CEO, his son William III was less successful, at least as far as the railroad was concerned. Under William III, track deteriorated and customers fled, which in turn permitted him to cut more service and staff. Fewer, longer trains were dispatched. Meanwhile William III was pouring available cash into diversifying into less regulated industries. By the 1970s, KCS faced a triple threat. Track condition was at an all time low, the first generation diesels were wearing out and tonnage was increasing. A new CEO began to turn the railroad around. The red paint scheme was dumped for white with red lettering. Grain moving down from Kansas City was joined by petro-chemicals moving up from the coast. Powder River Coal joined the mix during this period.

KCS’s diversified holdings, including the Janus Fund, made KCS ripe for takeover. In 1985, leftist fundraiser George Soros attempted a hostile takeover but was foiled first by a real estate developer and then by a Deramus successor who had since moved to Hallmark Cards and then bought a large block of KCS stock.

Now a rousing success, KCS spun off Janus and other holdings and kept the railroad because that is where the REAL money was! In 2006, the Southern Belle red, yellow, and black paint scheme was re-introduced. A version of it was even applied to some new KCS freight cars (KCS freight cars had been notorious dull for decades with few having anything more than reporting marks to trumpet their owner.)

Brief History:
The U.S. is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture center, and capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles' Hollywood is famed for filmmaking.


Item Links: We found: 4 different collections associated with Kansas City Southern - Railroad
Item created by: gdm on 2017-10-10 09:57:12. Last edited by gdm on 2020-06-01 14:16:21

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