MKT Railroad

MKT Railroad

The MKT Railroad, for which the town was named, connected Missouri, Kansas and Texas on untraditional North-South routes instead of East-West.

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, better known as simply The Katy or K-T (from which the name “Katy” derived), was a large granger system that, like the Illinois Central and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroads ran, unconventionally, north-south (instead of the more common, east-west).

As its name implies, the MKT connected all of its namesake states with connections to cities such as Omaha and St. Louis in the north and Galveston and San Antonio, Texas in the south.

The railroad was somewhat successful over the years but it ran into financial trouble a number of times throughout its life. As finances again became an issue in the 1980s the MKT sought a merger with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1986 and in 1989 the system became yet another part of the UP empire.

The Katy has its beginnings dating back to 1865 when the Union Pacific Railway (later changed to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad in 1870) was chartered to build a line connecting Junction City, Kansas to New Orleans.

Around the same time the railroad was able to reach Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri when it took control of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad which connected places like Sedalia and Clinton, Missouri with Nevada, Missouri.

Of note, the MKT was leased to the Missouri Pacific in 1880 and became part of the burgeoning Jay Gould empire for a time, which lasted until 1888. The biggest advantage the railroad gained from this leasing was that it acquired new markets and reached cities like Fort Worth, Dallas, and Waco, Texas.

Throughout the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th century the Katy would continue to grow and update its system. In 1895 it reached St. Louis and while its dreams were to reach all of the way to Chicago, financial problems, again, kept this from becoming a reality; although other new markets it did reach included Kansas City, Omaha, and Lincoln, Nebraska.

Read more from our Community Collection. Then for a deeper dive, head on over to the Katy Heritage Society for a more in depth look at the history of the Katy community.

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