Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 20

WHEN THE TRAIL
HAD A TRAIN

An MKT train sits on a siding at McBaine. The Boone County
town was one of many communities once served by the railroad.
before its demise in the 1980s.

The Katy proved to be a better trail than a railroad
by Jim Denny | info@ruralmissouri.coop

A

fter the clouds of the Civil War cleared away, the stage was set for the
profound events that would take Missouri into the future. At the top
of the list was railroad construction. Earlier, Missouri had gotten into
the railroad business reluctantly. During the early 1850s, some 7,000
miles of track radiated from Chicago, while not a single rail line had yet been
completed across the Show-Me State.
By 1870, there were roughly 1,500 miles of track, including two cross-state
lines, the Hannibal and St. Joseph, and the Pacific, soon to become the Missouri Pacific. At this time another competitor, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, or
more familiarly, the Katy Railroad, entered the scene. This fledgling enterprise,
headed by Wall Street financier Levi Parsons, had huge ambitions.
No railroad had yet penetrated Texas with all its cotton and cattle. Parsons
and his backers intended to do just that. They combined a railroad called the
Union Pacific Southern Branch with another called the Tebo and Neosho to create the Missouri-Kansas and Texas Railroad Co.
The actual construction of this route was a remarkable feat. One phase
involved a breakneck race to be the first railroad company to lay track to the
border between Kansas and Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Parsons' harddriving track layers only barely won the race. The Katy gained the right to be

the sole railroad permitted to extend tracks through Indian Territory into Texas. Meanwhile, another crew was busily laying track from the opposite direction. Starting at Sedalia, they laid track southwesterly toward Parsons, Kansas,
and also toward Hannibal to the northeast. Because the Missouri Pacific also
ran through Sedalia, the town was destined to become a major railroad hub.
At Boonville, the Missouri River was spanned by an impressive iron bridge
with a 363-foot swing span. On the north side of the river, the Katy continued
through Franklin to Moberly and then to Hannibal. By April 1873, the 573-mile
route from Hannibal to Denison, Texas, was completed. The Katy now had a
gateway to Chicago via Hannibal.
The counties through which the Katy passed immediately began to reap the
many benefits of having a railroad. But during this early era there also was a
price to pay in the form of heavy railroad subscriptions. Henry Countians, to
cite but one instance, moaned at the $28,000 per mile price tag the county
shelled out in railroad bonds to get the 37.4 miles of track that ran through
the county. Still, Henry County benefitted greatly from the presence of the
Katy. Clinton, Calhoun and Windsor became thriving railroad towns. A million
bushels of coal from local mines were shipped out of Clinton on an annual basis, while trackside pottery manufacturers in Clinton and Calhoun kept their
factories running night and day.
When it came to financing, the locals probably did not fully appreciate how

Below left: A crowd waits for the MKT train to arrive at the Higbee depot in 1910. The town was served from one of many MKT lines. Below right: An early steam-powered MKT passenger
train follows the rails alongside the Missouri River, probably near Rocheport. This stretch remains one of the most popular and scenic sections of the 237.7-mile Katy Trail State Park.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 8
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 9
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 10
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 11
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 12
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Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 14
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 15
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 16
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 17
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 18
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 19
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 20
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 21
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 22
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 23
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 24
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 25
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 26
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 27
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 28
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 29
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 30
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 31
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 32
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 33
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 34
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 35
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 36
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 37
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 38
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 39
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 40
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 41
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - 42
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - July 2018 - Cover4
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