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On July 4, 1851 at St. Louis, ground breaking for the Pacific Railroad Company marked the beginning of the Missouri Pacific, becoming the first railroad west of the Mississippi River.

The age of 'modern' steam power began after the turn of the century with the growing size of steam engines. The new age began with the placement of the heavy firebox behind the driving wheels over a newly added two-wheel trailing truck. Traditional 4-6-0 locos evolved into the the 4-6-2 'Pacific' - named for the Missouri Pacific, among the first rail companies to use the new type of engine.

As a general rule (there may be exceptions) MoPac started adding the small buzzsaw logo with the "Missouri Pacific Lines" to its equipment around 1926. By the late 1920's "MISSOURI PACIFIC" was added on cars and cabooses. The "MISSOURI PACIFIC" appears to be dropped in the mid-1930's as a labor/cost savings measure.

In 1933 the giant Missouri Pacific became the first major American carrier to file for legal protection during the Great Depression. It would be many years before the company came out of receivership, turning the corner to become one of the most successful modern railroads.

During wartime the Missouri Pacific participated in the building of the Martin bomber plant near the Fort Crook, Nebraska station. The bomber plant turned out over 2,000 war planes, including the famous B-29 Enola Gay which dropped the atom bomb and brought an end to World War Two. After the war, the bomber plant was transformed for an even bigger role, converted into the headquarters of the new Strategic Air Command (SAC).

MoPac adopted the name "Eagle" for its trains after holding an employee contest to name the very first MP (Eagle) train of 1939.

The number of "points" on the MoPac "Buzzsaw" emblem varies between 44 and 46 throughout its history and usage.

MoPac's Eagle colors went from gray & blue to dark blue beginning in 1962 with the advent of President D.B. Jenks. From this comes the term "Jenks Blue".

The Mopac changed its color for flat cars, gondolas, and hopper cars from black to boxcar red in 1961, during the same time period that the locomotives were changed from blue and grey to the over-all Jenk's Blue scheme. According to John German, Chief Mechanical Officer hired by Jenks in 1961, the car shops were complaining about having to keep two inventories of paint using both "freight car red" and "black" for painting freight cars. When nobody could answer the question, "Why do the freight cars have to be painted two different colors?," it was decided in the late fall of 1961 to start painting all freight cars red.

All diesel locomotives began receiving Jenks blue paint (all blue with white striping and lettering) April 1961. This date is documented on a GP7/9 Mopac painting and stenciling drawing that states the drawing in Eagle colors is obsolete on 4/27/61. Various F-unit and E-unit painting & stenciling drawings were also made obsolete on various days in April 1961.

A series of T&P gons in 1957 were delivered in red -- for what reason exactly yet to be determined. T&P apparently continued to repaint its other gons in black even after the ampersand was dropped from the logo. 40' flatcars seem to have been delivered in red but were repainted to black (in vogue from the 30's to the 60's). As the MoPac exerted more and more control over the TP, some 40's boxcars got a T&P diamond and a MoP buzzsaw until they settled on the TPL buzzsaw. On the MoPac, I understand that at least some of the 3-bay composite hoppers got red paint upon rebuilding with steel sides in the 1950's. (Thanks to Ed Hawkins)

The KO&G had 40' box cars in the 30000 number series (painted silver then jade green). The KO&G had the following box cars (per the 1/59 order): 30001-30005, 40'-6" IL, 10'-2" IH, 12'-1" door opening 30006-30008, 40'-6" IL, 10'-6" IH, 6' door opening, built early 1940s 30009-30013, 50' IL insulated box cars, 8'-2" door opening, built 3-57 by PC&F. The cars had blue sides (as built) with white lettering.

Reportedly the plug door cars were delivered in medium blue. In the late fifties, they refitted the 40' boxcars with DF loaders and gave them an aluminum and black scheme. The aluminum and black was in vogue when the T&P took over. (MOPAC Yahoo Group)

Mopac began using radio on it's steam engines in the late 1940's, but it wasn't very successful. The noise of a steam engine's operations including the engine whistle would activate the Radio unit every time it blew. It wasn't really until the 1950's that radio came into it's own, being installed on MP's new diesels and cabooses. The GP-7s and -9 locos were already tight and didn't allow for much room inside the cab for the bulky devices. To solve the problem, MoPac built a metal cabinet which protruded externally behind the fireman's window. The radios were simply slipped into the new space. In fact the early radios were so bulky and heavy that cabooses even needed a sandbag placed on the opposite side of the radio equipment as a counter-balance.

MoPac's passenger-service put many units to work including the E3, E6 A&B, E7 A&B, E8, PA1, PA2, F3, F7, FP7, and the GP7. There were two E3's (7000-01), 2 E6A's and 2 E6B's, and a lot of E7 A's and B's. The MoPac owned PA2's but did not own any PB's. Not all F's and GP's could be used for passenger service since not all were steam generator equipped.

Diesel builder EMD experimented with a possible Eagle scheme for the Texas & Pacific F7 in T&P's colors of Swamp Holly Orange and Black instead of MoPac's Eagle Blue and Gray. This never got beyond the artwork stage and was never applied to a single unit. (Jim Ogden)

Check out this example:

A small Mopac passenger train would include a baggage mail, a coach and maybe a grill coach on longer runs.

MoPac in the Movies
(Some of this material was gathered from the

  • "Picnic" a 1955 MGM movie starring Kim Novak, William Holden and Cliff Robertson, was filmed in the rural town of Hastead in central Kansas and was served by the Missouri Pacific railroad, which makes a "cameo" appearence.

    The scene of interest occurs at the story's end with Holden hopping a MoPac freight to Tulsa. A cropped shot of a streamlined freight unit (ALCo? in Eagle colors), a string of MP boxes and hoppers (including "Route of the Eagles" slogan) and just a little bit of a wood caboose make a 10-second run-by, all while the major characters confess their true feelings in the movies' climax. The movie concludes with an aerial shot of the entire MP train speeding over the Kansas farmland. Incidentally, the movie opens with Holden's arrival on a freight pulled by a Union Pacific geep. This is the only movie I know of that features an Eagle train so predominantly.

  • "Ode to Billy Jo" has a minor MoPac "walk-on" in which some freight cars roll by in a scene or two.

  • "In the Heat of the Night" starring Sidney Poitier three geeps with the screaming eagle on the long hood (GP 35's?) make a big screen cameo. They make their appearance during the chase scene next to the Mississippi river, right after Poitier inspects a body at the funeral home. 

    One scene shows two MoPac Geep's in early Jenks blue paint. The short freight train they hauled consisted of one 86 ft car , and 40/50 ft  boxcars. In addition to the MoPac, in a closing scene GM&O E Unit A&B's run by for the camera. (SP Mike)

    Some filming for this movie was done in southern Illinois around Sparta, Freeburg, and Belleville, though one source names Chester as the location. (John Shriver)

  • "This Property is Condemned" starring Robert Redford and Natalie Wood. This features another run-by, including footage of early 60's Mop freight equipment. The movie was shot around the Gulf Coast and set around 1932. It has some footage of 40' "older" boxcars which turned out to have a number of re-sided MoP boxcars in 50's paint. (Jim Ogden and Bill)

  • "End of the Line" starring Mary Steenburgen. The movie was shot in the Little Rock area using MP units in Jenks blue and white chevrons (the buzzsaws were removed to protect the innocent). Incidentally, Ms. Steenburgen's (who produced the movie) father worked on the MoPac when she was a child in North Little Rock. (T. Mickel)

  • "American Outlaws" is a recent movie. In several scenes involving trains, the railroad used is the Texas State Railroad, and the locomotive seen in the movie is the old Texas & Pacific # 316. The engine was renumbered for the movie. (Jay Glenewinkel)

  • "title?" starring Cheech and Chong in which they drive from Chicago to California(?) seeing them drive under a railway underpass over which a group of three or four MOP units (GE units, U30C's?) in Jenks Blue with screaming Eagles on the side are going over. (George Simmons)

  • "Centennial" a 1970s or '80s television mini-series. In an early episode the starring couple go down river passing a steamboat. This steamboat was the "James Y. Lockwood," the Missouri Pacific vessel that towed the transfer barge at Vidalia. This scene used stock footage as the boat was retired by the time the TV epic was filmed. (Bill)

Starting in the 1960's, MoPac used an early form of "barcode" on all it's rolling stock, cabooses and engines to better facilitate ID-ing and routing. These were the colored striped bars about a foot and a half tall by 8 inches wide on a black background placed to the lower right on the car body. On engines a steel plate with the code was mounted on the side handrailing.

Loco Renumbering -
The first major renumber of the MoPac roster first took place in 1962 when the whole MoPac fleet was renumbered.  Numbering from three to four digits (in this case, 500 to 1850) started in 1974 when the locomotives were, for the most part, renumbered to group units of similar horsepower together, and the buzzsaw was replaced with the screaming eagle herald.  Changing T&P to MP reporting marks was more of a paperwork exercise.  The T&P sublettering lasted well into the 1970s on some locomotives, and some four-number geeps (e.g., 1850) had T&P sublettering.  The last units to carry sublettering were likely C&EI GP15s.  Most of this information comes from John Eagan's 1975-1976 Missouri Pacific Annual. (J. Michels

The MoP's HERBIE (reporting markings Herb -1) car - a converted 40' boxcar with the slogan "Help Every Railroader Be Injury Exempt", was often paired with East One, a converted combine/caboose to promote rail safety as part of the instruction car fleet. There was only one HERBIE car, however it had two different paint schemes (or two different MP heralds placed in different locations). Herb-1 is/was still used after the merger on the UP system.

Early MoPac intermodal was one of the first uses of containers on a Class 1 railroad.

However, MoPac's choice wasn't mainstream and essentially became extinct in the late 60's. Although innovative and somewhat flexible in design, the demountable container was limited; only one container rode in a gondola, the system required fixed over head gantry cranes for each unloading ramp (costing over $40,000 in 1958), and, in turn,the boxes couldn't be used off-line, to expand their use onto other railroads.

The container system died with the intro of the collapsible hitch on flatcars, which allowed the "circus ramp" to reach full potential. As the new method developed, MP placed their containers on chassis, or simply used them for storage sheds.

Though the streamliners were the king, Mopac also relied heavily on GP7s as passenger power - they could be seen on a passenger local, on the Eagle (usually trailing a streamliner), as well as any freight train or switching local industries.

Among the most recognizable pre-merger symbols but among the rarest seen - the Texas & Pacific version of the "Buzzsaw" emblem was used for little more than a year. By the mid 1960's the T&P Diamond had given away to a buzzsaw with the corporate name. The emblem was rare on both locomotives and cabooses. In fact it's unknown just exactly how many of these emblems were applied to equipment that otherwise was in the usual Missouri Pacific paint and lettering. T&P sublettering was applied under these buzzsaws as well.

Known examples of T&P buzzsaw usage
(thanks to Jerry Murray for supplying list)

E7 #2 (passenger loco - had emblem on the nose eagle and on the sides)

F7A #875, 865
F7A #907 (diamond on front and buzz on side)

E8A #36
E8 #37
(Note: E7's #1, 3 & 4 may have used them on the sides)

GP9 #387 & 388

GP18 #500, 502

GP35 #600-614

SW9 #1223

#2550 (dated 1964)
Combo diner-lounge car, originally #525, painted jenks with T&P buzzsaw renumbered #42 around Christmas 1963, retired and scrapped in 1969
No reporting marks available - but a number of box cars used them
Most TX depot used T&P buzzsaw on outside of building

Interestingly, the Chicago & Eastern Illinois version of the Buzzsaw emblem was quite common on both locomotives and equipment for many years.

New Diesels: During the 1970's Mopac diesels were bought without toilets or radios -- one of their first stops on the system was at North Little Rock where these two items were applied by the RR's mechanical department. (C. Duckworth)

MoPac and Leased Power

MoPac, Penn Central and the Milwaukee Road were big on the lease thing. They obtained hundreds of medium and high horsepower units on long-term leases. In the case of MoPac, they were usually fifteen-year leases. When the lease is taken out, there are usually provisions within the lease agreement to provide the option to renew the lease, purchase the units outright or return the units to the lessor. In some cases leases are renewed.

In 1983 the MoPac opted not to renew the lease on a group of SD40's built in 1969. They were returned to the Lessor, Chicago West Pullman Leasing. These units sat stored for several years unused at the abandoned Wisconsin Steel Works in Chicago after being returned. I had been told several different reasons why the MoPac did not renew the lease on these units ranging from mechanical condition, price for renewing the lease, to the fact the lessor wanted these units back with the plan to lease or sell them outright to another source. Eventually these units were resurrected, rebuilt and acquired by CSX Transportation.

In 1979 and 80, the MoPac was always short and leasing power. Surges in business and an aging fleet of first generation Geeps was in part to blame. During this time period MoPac leased large quantities of GP40's and SD40-2's from Conrail as well as GP40 series units from Chessie System's Baltimore & Ohio. There were also several SD40's leased from the Grand Trunk Western. It was not unusual during this time period to see a MoPac train with all Conrail, all GTW, all Chessie or a mix and match of lease power making up the locomotive consist with no MoPac units at all in the consist. (Tuch Santucci)

MoPac never owned GP40's! (as a seperate entity, anyway)...

But in an effort to sell the ever-loco-hungry road, one EMD GP40 Demo was loaned to MoPac for evaluating. This engine was even painted in MP blue with the Eagle on the side of the long hood. Despite wearing its colors, MoPac never did go on to purchase a single GP40.

MoPac bought some GP38-2's from the bankrupt Rock Island. They were painted in the MP scheme but had a few details which set them apart from the rest of MP's GP38-2's.

The last units to be delivered to MP in Jenk's blue were GP50's, B 30-7's and finally GP15-1's in 1982.

An inside perspective from Paul De Luca (from )

"Before the merger, the GP50's and B30-7a's were the last MP road power delivered in BLUE paint, and the RR assigned them in 3 unit sets to the Chicago - Texas intermodal and auto trains. They probably also ran on the FFT, as well as on other auto trains in the St.Louis - Kansas City corridor. I was an Assistant Trainmaster in Texarkana from 1982 thru 1984, and would commonly see the GP50's running in 3 unit sets, mixed with SD40-2's, or, and sometimes with the B30's as well. They ran on cycles on assigned trains...DFZ (todays ZDUMQ)power would cycle back to N.L.Rock on FL (todays MFWNL) which was(is) a manifest train, then to Yard Center on something else. CHZ would turn on HCZ at Settegast Yard (Houston), and CFZ would cycle on FCZ?...

"After the merger, the GP50's were repainted yellow/grey rapidly, as they went thru thier first major overhauls around 1984 or so."

MoPac retained it's corporate identity for some time after the merger, until 1997.

Though the UP and MP corporate structures were merging, they still had seperate operating departments. MoPac was treated as a separate entity from UP and kept it's identity for some time (thanks to unexpired equipment trusts, financing, original ownership, etc.).MoPac painted it's engines in it's own yellow and gray with the "MISSOURI PACIFIC" lettering.

The SD50's and C36-7's were bought by the MoPac. It was done after the merger, and they came in yellow and gray with "MISSOURI PACIFIC" on the long hood.

Some ex-Rock Island and ex-Western Pacific GP40's and GP40-2's, were all painted UP colors with "MISSOURI PACIFIC" on the long hood before operating departments officially merged. None wore MP blue.

The ownership of the ex-RI and ex-WP GP40s and GP40-2s was "transferred" to the Mopac following the initial UP/MP/WP merger proceedings. This was in exchange for some of the MP SD40-2c's being moved out west. Probably after the leases expired the UP had these (4) ex-WP GP40's "owned" by MP for financial purposes (maybe a bit of "paper magic" accountants came up with for tax purposes)

By the time MP lost it's own corporate identity, it was simply a matter of painting over "MISSOURI" with "UNION".

Contrary to rumors, speculations and sworn facts, MoPac never owned any BLUE cabooses, bay-windowed or otherwise ;)~

MoPac and the Denver & Rio Grande Western shared a long history of close ties. Even when in recievership in the 1950's, MoPac owned a large stock interest in D&RGW.

At one point in time (up to the UP merger) MoPac had about a 20 or so percent interest in the ATSF. It had to be sold as a merger requirement. There was speculation at one point that MoPac and ATSF would merge. (Tuch)

The Southern and MoPac were engaged in serious merger talks in the latter 70's. UP came in and the rest is history. It is not widely known that the UP takeover was actually hostile. (Tuch)


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