Missouri Kansas Texas
The Chapter is indebted to the Institute of Texan Cultures, the San Antonio Conservation Society, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the San Antonio Library for some of the following pictures. Additional images have come from the private collections of Pat Halpin, Dave Wallace and Bruce Blalock.
Turn of the century MK&T advert
Early 20th century century MK&T advert
Winter Tourist Advert.
1955 MK&T system map.
1984 Map of the M-K-T system.
Blue print detail showing track layout at the MK&T passenger and freight depots in San Antonio
Aerial view of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas station in San Antonio, taken before Durango was extended east of Flores Street
On 12/25/1872, five years before any railroad arrived in San Antonio, The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway Company crossed the Red River and entered Texas, near modern day Denison, a town that was created by the railroad. The Katy had won the race to be the first railroad to connect Texas to the rest of the country. Both the federal government and the first post civil war Texas legislature had offered all kinds of inducements, as both considered it desirable for the nation to be connected by commerce as quickly as possible. The company was renamed from the Union Pacific (Southern Branch) which was first, in 1852, to operate any rail lines west of the Mississippi, to the Missouri-Kansas & Texas Railway in 1870, to reflect their purpose and area of operations. Oklahoma was not yet a state, at this time.
1914 projection of new MKT depot in San Antonio
1916 San Antonio Express headline announcing the new Katy station
August 1917 San Antonio Express announcing the new Katy station
August 1917, San Antonio Light article announcing the new Katy station
Newspaper article announcing the new Missouri, Kansas and Texas station in San Antonio
Indian lands promised to the M-K-T in the Oklahoma Territory were never delivered as the US Supreme Court ruled that the offer had been illegal. Likewise, the two year tax abatement offered in Texas, as any land grants were illegal in the state, also never materialized. Early enthusiasm for all things railroad were transformed by the reality of huge monopolies acting very selfishly in their own interests. They were accused of high rates and restrictive practices such as secret cartels to fix prices by not really competing with each other. Owners such as Jay Gould would wheel and deal railroads and services. In 1880 the Missouri-Katy-Texas reached Waco. It was then leased to the Texas & Pacific. In 1881, the International & Great Northern was leased to the MKT. As a result, Jay Gould was able to exercise control over all three, as he owned the Missouri Pacific which leased the Texas & Pacific. He controlled these companies either directly or indirectly, plus many smaller companies. The M-K-T was leased in full to the Missouri Pacific, via the T & P, for 99 years, but Gould's empire was brought to an end in 1886 due to the efforts of the then Texas Attorney General, James Hogg, who would be elected to State Governor in 1890, with control of the railroads as his main platform. He accused the M-K-T of having unsafe lines and of being owned by a "foreign" corporation in violation of the State Constitution. This was true but had originally been permitted by an earlier state legislature, again to encourage the growth of railroads into Texas. This had worked. Pretty soon Texas had the highest railroad mileage of any state in the union, which is still true today.
Mission Concepcion, the oldest Mission in San Antonio, and one of the oldest continuous use churches in the USA,was the inspiration for the M-K-T depot, which was built in the Mission Revival style in 1917.
This is a PR shot from a moving company taken outside the San Antonio MK&T station
Hand colored postcard showing the MK&T station in San Antonio
Undated photo of the brand new Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad station in San Antonio
Early shot of cars outside the KATY (MKT) station, San Antonio.
Missouri, Kansas and Texas station, San Antonio, 1930
Gould's monopoly was dismantled and the M-K-T was "finally" chartered in 1891 as the Missouri-Katy-Texas Railway Company of Texas, more commonly known as the Katy of Texas. It acquired all of the parent companies holdings in Texas except the I & GN railroad which regained full independence, though it remained close to the Missouri Pacific and would be purchased by it in 1924. By 1887 the MKT had reached San Marcos from Lockhart. San Marcos remained the southern tip of the MKT for over a decade. As the I & GN was leased to the MKT, there was no need to build another line to San Antonio and it concentrated on building east towards Houston, via Smithville. Through car service to San Antonio was being advertised at this time. Even after 1886, relations with the I & GN were such that the MKT did not proceed with its own line. When the MKT applied to take over the Sherman Shreveport & Southern Railway Company, which was owed by the parent MKT but run independently of the MKT of Texas, the Texas Railroad Commission said it would not approve the merger until the MKT built a line of its own to San Antonio. THE TRC wanted to see more competition on this important route. The MKT of Texas complied and its own line to San Antonio was completed in 1901.
The old MKT station in San Antonio, which used to be at the corner of Durango and S. Flores Street. It was demolished in 1969. A La Quinta hotel occupies the site now.
Old postcard of the Katy station in San Antonio
Rare color photo of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad station in San Antonio, taken in1952. The brick building on the other side of Durango is still there.
The VW dates this photo as near to the MK&T stations demolition.
With its arrival in San Antonio, the M-K-T had reached its southernmost point and its line terminated in the city. It was running complete trains to San Antonio by 1901. It used the Southern Pacific depots, first the one on Austin Street and soon the much grander Sunset Station, which was also known as Union Station until the Katy completed its own station in 1917. The company had 133 locomotives and 163 cars. It had reported $1,200,000 passenger revenue and $3,000,000 freight revenue as early as 1895. It had 1,119 miles of track by 1904. By 1914, this had risen to 1,600 miles, including seven leased companies. In 1905 the company built its own line into Austin but this came in from Granger to the north of the state capital. The 'gap' between San Marcos and Austin was never filled by the Katy. It had trackage rights on the I & G.N. line right up to 1988, when the MKT was purchased by Union Pacific, which had merged with MOPAC in 1982. In 1911, the Katy acquired the land for it's future San Antonio depot, at the corner of Durango and S. Flores streets, from the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad Company which had acquired it for possible expansion that never happened. The M-K-T then sold it to the San Antonio Belt & Terminal Company, which had been chartered in favor of the M-K-T in 1912. Work on the new depot, designed by Frederick Sterner, of New York, in the Mission Revival style, began in 1916, the same year the S.A. Belt & Terminal Railway Company was leased to the M-K-T for 99 years. The depot, loosely modeled on a San Antonio mission church, Mission Concepcion, was opened on 9/1/1917, the same date as the arrival of the first train to the depot.
San Antonio MK&T station postcard .
Missouri, Kansas & Texas station interior in San Antonio
San Antonio M-K-T station interior.
The Katy, which gained its nickname during the year's of its ownership by Jay Gould, when the company was leased to the Missouri Pacific and was called the Kansas-Texas line, was a strong independent company which, like every railroad, went through periods of both prosperity and poverty. All the while it grew. Demand for railroad services were very high before the Great Depression. There was a massive influx of people into Texas, and exports of oil, beef and cotton made for strong revenues. During the inter war years, the M-K-T was the most popular passenger railroad in the state, particularly San Antonio. Though designed by a "furr'ner," the Katy's depot design was closest to local architecture, being a liberal reinterpretation of Mission Concepcion, the oldest mission in San Antonio, which still serves its parish to this day and is one of the oldest surviving, continuous use, churches in the USA.
Interior of the MK&T station in San Antonio, 1946.
Interior of the MK&T station in San Antonio, 1946
Interior of the MK&T station in San Antonio, 1946
Interior of the MK&T station in San Antonio, 1946
In 1915 the company went into receivership, which lasted for 8 years. This is a legal device used by the courts when a company is in difficulty, to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy. The company is allowed to re-organize, a favorite pastime of the railroads, it seems, under the control of a court appointed official, or receiver. With a nuance of name change here and there, companies were able to re-arrange themselves and their debts. The "new" name of the company became the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company. Note the change from railway to railroad and the removal of the "&" between Kansas and Texas. Such is the life of board rooms and high finance. All the while the KATY continued to operate and grow. However, instead of building new lines, much of the effort was going into maintaining and upgrading existing lines. Bigger, heavier, stronger, faster locomotives and trains need track that is superior to those built during the company's expansion days. Bridges, trestles and other track supports needed to be upgraded as well. Plus the new locomotives and rolling stock had to be paid for and maintained. In 1931 the Katy recorded earnings of $1,722,000 from passenger service and $8,085,000 from freight. Not too bad bearing in mind this was the depth of the Great Depression. The Katy had 82 locomotives and over 1,000 cars.
MK&T passenger train "Texas Special" leaving Dallas.
MK&T steam locomotive 356.
MK&T steam locomotive 741.
Two diesels leaving the San Antonio Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad depot in June of 1955. An unusual feature of operation at the M-K-T depot in San Antonio is that there were no through lines. All trains had to be backed into the station. Two tracks crossed Durango for a short distance north of the depot,
for the purpose of delivering freight to some businesses located there.
The second world war jolted the American economy out of it's slumber. The population of San Antonio grew enormously over a very short time. Lackland Air Force Base grew from being almost just a landing strip to one of the largest training bases in the world. People and materials were being moved in unprecedented numbers. Feeding the war machine with oil alone meant increasing the number of trains by huge amounts. Locomotives and rolling stock were brought out of retirement, or kept in service much longer than before, to keep everything moving. Maintenance suffered. By the end of the war, the whole railroad system emerged victorious but tired. More investment, much more, would be needed to get services back to acceptable peace time standards. However, the postwar economic boom was a double edged sword for the railroads. Advances in aviation were taking a huge bite out of long distance travel and car ownership became the norm for American citizens. An independent carrier like the M-K-T would be hard pressed to continue to thrive.
Old time local politician Maury Maverick making a whistle stop speech at the San Antonio M-K-T station
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his wife, Eleanor, plus other dignitaries leaving San Antonio from the Katy Depot, June 11, 1936.
Enlarged MK&T ad detail.
1952 MIssouri-Kansas-Texas timetable.
MKT freight advert from 1952 timetable.
But thrive it did. Many people regard the post war period up to 1953, which included the Korean war, to be the M-K-T's finest epoch. Dieselization was completed and old style heavy passenger rolling stock was replaced with newer, lighter weight stream lined cars. Diesel electrics were superior in every respect to the steam locomotives they replaced. They were faster, stronger, cleaner and quieter, and required far fewer people to operate and maintain them. The Katy had always been known for the cleanliness of their locomotives, cars, even their passenger depots, and they set about to create a delightfully colorful array of paint schemes for the new equipment. Texas continued to boom in the post war economy and despite the falling off of passenger revenue, freight service more than made up for it. Some people say the railroads deliberately played accounting tricks with passenger service, since they were obliged to provide it in order to be allowed to operate their freight services, and this may be true, but the decline in rail travel was very real, and once bustling depots served fewer and fewer trains, while airports and freeways got busier and busier.
1935 MK&T Timetable.
War Time MK&T Schedule.
1955 MK&T timetable for the "Texas Special" and "Texas Bluebonnet" trains
1955 MK&T freight timetable
Missouri Kansas & Texas streamliner train advert
1956 Katy Advert.
Detail of M-K-T service to and from San Antonio, 1956.
By the late 70's, however, things in the railroad business began to change. Consolidation of independent regional carriers into national networks became the norm. The Union Pacific took over the Western Pacific and the Missouri Pacific. By comparison, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad began to seem smaller and less significant. They were also burdened with decades of old debts and the interest that had accrued on them. Some of these debts stretched back to before the Great Depression. In addition, in order to be competitive, newer locomotives and rolling stock had to be acquired. Even the WW II boom years came back to haunt them. Many of the wooden railroad ties laid during that time had been improperly treated to prevent premature rotting, due to a war time lack of the appropriate chemicals, and millions of them needed to be replaced. The M-K-T had to borrow some $16,000,000 from the government just to keep the tracks operable. A partner or merger was sought but none could be immediately found and the Katy was forced to go it alone.
San Antonio MK&T / Katy station, around 1955.
1960s image of the San Antonio Missouri Kansas and Texas railroad station
1960s image of the San Antonio Katy railroad station showing the long frontage along Durango, now renamed Cesar Chavez
1960s image of the San Antonio MK & T railroad station
San Antonio Light announces the end of the MKT station.
1968 image of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas station in San Antonio, now disused.
Missouri Kansas Texas station in San Antonio
April 1968 - MK&T station demolition in progress. The adjacent freight depot, completed before the passenger depot, would carry on for another 20 years.
Missouri Kansas & Texas freight office in San Antonio, in the 1980s
The last M-K-T passenger train, Texas Special #1, from St. Louis, to use the venerable depot arrived, ten minutes ahead of schedule, on July 27, 1964. On board were seventy passengers. The engineer was Pomp Perry, aged 71, a 52 year veteran of the Katy. On board, as a passenger, was L.L. Langowski, who had been aboard the first M-K-T train to arrive at the depot on 9/1/1917. He had retired from the Katy four years earlier after forty years of service. A.C. Bedgood, a 33 year M.K.T. veteran, had the sad task of closing the ticket office. The M.K.T. was forced to quit the service when it lost a contract worth $881,997.00 a year, hauling US mail, to aggressively low bids from road trucking companies. All M-K-T passenger service ended the next year on 6/30/1965, when the last of the Katy's famous trains ran from Dallas to Kansas City. Like all the other railroad companies, the Katy became exclusively freight haulers.
TheLa Quinta Inn Hotel, where the depot used to be, at the corner of Durango (now called Cesar Chavez) and S. Flores. The old depot faced onto Flores.
A few traces of Katy track remain at the rear of the La Quinta Inn on Cesar Chavez Boulevard
Four little pieces of track embedded into the asphalt and going a few yards into the grass, in back of the La Quinta Inn, one block back from Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
The Katy continued to serve San Antonio right up to the end, which, in this case, came when they were bought by the Union Pacific in 1988. One hundred years earlier the Katy and the Missouri Pacific companies were forced apart by Attorney General James Hogg. Now, as part of the Union Pacific, they were back together again. Prior to this, the M-K-T had been allowed to unify its corporate structure and the Katy of Texas had become one with the rest of the M-K-T. Times were different now. Railroads had long ceased to be the only haulage option and competition from the market place and other forms of transportation had created a new landscape. The obligation, created during the time of Governor Hogg, that all railroads operating with Texas had to be under the control of a Texas company had become anachronistic.
Some old Katy tracks on Arsenal Street, San Antonio facing the La Quinta hotel.
Where the lines used to go to and from the station in San Antonio.
The site in San Antonio here once were Katy tracks, a major station and many other railroad related buildings.
As for the lovely old depot in San Antonio, it's end came much sooner. Closed for good in 1964, it was demolished in 1969. Few companies in the midst of down sizing and huge debt loads can afford to be sentimental and the M-K-T proved to be no different. As railroads abandoned passenger service one by one, cherished depots across the country were shuttered and the majority demolished. Many more fell into severe disrepair. A lucky few were sold and maintained. The glorious former International & Great Northern / Missouri Pacific depot in San Antonio was more fortunate than the Katy depot. It was bought by people who wanted to save it and even then it languished in shockingly bad disrepair until it was "saved" by the San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union.
Now located at Los Patios, an upmarket shopping and dining area on north Loop 410, near Perrin Beitel Road, is one of the side doors from the San Antonio Katy station
Detail of the side door from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas station in San Antonio, now located on a building in the Los Patios shopping area just outside Loop 410 at Perrin Beitel
One of the very few reminders of the M.K.T. in San Antonio is this railroad bridge, that took the line towards Sloan freight yard, which is completely gone.
M-K-T sign on a railroad bridge in San Antonio, still legible, after all these years.
The Katy depot was a liability to the company. No one, in the late 1960's wanted it and, like many such buildings, the opportunities for re-use in its original form were slender since there was so little usable office space within the structure. Once torn down, the company would no longer have to pay taxes on it or maintain it, plus the land could be sold off to people looking for a prime site near down town. This author believes the current occupant of the land, the modern Woodfield Suites Hotel, was not the immediate successor on the property, as he seems to recall a building there being torn down within his own time in San Antonio. He may be wrong but it seems unlikely that a prime site would remain vacant for so long. Only a few remnants of the site's use as a rail depot still remain, mainly some old road crossing tracks a block behind the hotel, on Arsenal Street.
Rainy day departure of a Katy train from San Antonio.
A M-K-T streamliner passenger car being washed in San Antonio. Older heavyweight cars, like TTM's McKeever, can also be seen.
Sloan freight yard in San Antonio. The MKT's reputation as a very well groomed railroad was well deserved
MK&T steam train leaving the station in San Antonio . The building on the right is still there.
Sad to say there isn't even a marker to say that upon this site once stood what is commonly referred to as the best looking depot on the entire M-K-T system. The chapter and the Woodfield Suites Hotel are working to get one erected. Its too late to save the depot, way too late. But it's not too late for it to be paid it's respects.