Heading into the setting sun, Extra 228 charges south through Rockville, MO on an autumn evening in 1982. Behind the first boxcar on this St. Louis to Texas run is a long cut of piggyback cars, representing a growing and important source of revenue for the Katy through the 1980s. Contributor David Belcher captured this shot of the train, led by GP40 #228, as it passed one of the two grain elevator complexes in town.
The eastern half of the St. Louis main line was heavy on scenery but light on traffic. But, the west end– which passed through Rockville– was the opposite. The Sedalia Subdivision cut across the somewhat bland farmlands and prairies of western Missouri, passing through little towns which, by the 1980s, were far beyond their better days. Many of these communities were home to feed mills, fertilizer plants, and other ag-related businesses. These industries provided traffic for the Katy, especially during harvest time. Coal mines and the Kansas City Power & Light plant near Montrose also provided a steady source of additional traffic.
This image is just one of many you’ll find in our upcoming book, Show-Me The Katy, which is quickly rolling toward completion. The 185-page hardcover, the high-quality book focuses on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad’s route between Parsons, KS, Sedalia, MO, and St. Louis, MO, with an emphasis on the railroad’s last 20 years of operation. More than two hundred color photos, detailed maps, and informative graphics tell the story of this often-forgotten corner of the Katy system. Nearly every community along the line is represented, as are branch lines to El Dorado Springs, Moberly, and Columbia.