Missouri-Kansas-Texas, St. Louis Subdivision Start slow and taper off...

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Bret Overholtzer’s Missouri-Kansas-Texas, St. Louis Subdivision

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About the Layout

Located in a 15 ft by 25 ft basement train room, this N-scale single deck, operation-oriented layout incorporates a separate 400-car staging yard to facilitate the “beyond the basement” concept.

The MKT’s traffic from St. Louis to Kansas City and Texas is simulated over nearly four scale miles of mainline track, with emphasis on freight, coal unit trains, and grain traffic.

Operations on the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision simulate an enhanced version of the traffic that would have existed in 1984. You can expect to see multi-unit freight and coal trains, some autorack and pig trains, and lots of local switching action.

You’ll run primarily Whitman green and yellow locomotives, with a smattering of leased power in the consists.

As the elite operators say, “No sound, no layout”, so the mighty MKT has sound-equipped locomotives.

An enthusiastic operating crew of eight can complete a nominal three-hour operating session with ease, running 17 over-the-road trains, up to five locals, and a dedicated Union Pacific switch job.

You can bid for the dispatching job and follow the trains across the faux-digicon-esque track schematic on the computer monitor. Or you can run the yard, and kick the local trains out to serve the industries. Or you can relax in the crew lounge and watch train videos with the Superintendent. The choice is yours!

During operating sessions, we keep the atmosphere loose and fun, with an emphasis on the social aspects of the hobby. The credo of the Mighty MKT: “Start slow and taper off”.

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You can find more information about the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision at mktrr.com

The MKT, St. Louis Subdivision was featured in the Sep/Oct 2000 issue of N Scale Railroading

Of all the average railroads in the country, the Katy was the most average. ~ Casey Jones

Layout at a Glance 
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Layout at a glance
  • N Scale
  • Single room, 15 ft x 25 ft. with 17-track staging in separate room.
  • 1984 MKT North End, from Sedalia, Missouri to St. Louis, plus branch line to Columbia, Missouri
  • Walk around, linear, sincere (single time through scene), single deck
  • Layout height nominally 53 inches
  • 90 percent scenicked
  • EasyDCC with wireless throttles (tethered available for yards)
  • Full ABS signalling
  • JMRI computer dispatching console, powered by C/MRI goodness
  • Basement stairs access
  • 8 Operators (typical)
  • Verbal track warrants using radios (supplied)
  • Rule G is annulled during operating sessions
Jobs on the Layout 

Jobs on the Layout

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Franklin Yard Yardmaster - Works the yard, breaking down trains and creating locals. You will stay moderately busy throughout the operating session, but it is not a stressful job. The locals are called when sufficient cars have been assembled, so there are no time-dependent aspects to the job.

Job complexity/stress level: Moderate to above moderate, depending on your desire to put locals on the road. Work the 101-series trains. Kick out some locals. Chat with the dispatcher. Life is good!

Union Pacific Local at Boonville (a.m. and p.m tricks) - Works the wall-side industries at Boonville from a separate two-track staging yard. This is a good job for those who enjoy switching and rail fanning at the same time. You won’t need a radio, since you only work the UP-served industries. You will also work the interchange track and set out cars destined for the Boonville industries that are served by the MKT. The crew on the UP Boonville job will have the option of completing both the am and pm shifts, or swapping out the job for a road crew.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy to moderate. Lots of switching, but you have no schedule. Take your time. Do some railfanning. Haughtily deride the puny MKT trains as they ramble by. Life is good!

Four Local Jobs (Columbia, Westinghouse, St. Charles, Boonville) - These locals all originate at Franklin Yard. They work as turns, departing and returning to the yard. A couple of the locals (Westinghouse, Boonville, and Columbia) work only a single destination; the St. St. Charles local works several towns out and back. Most locals are short (9-11 cars) , so the local switching does not take all session to complete.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy. Do some switching. Dodge the through trains. Chat with the dispatcher over the radio. Trundle back to the yard. Life is good!

Road Crews - The St. Louis Sub usually runs with 4 road crew. There are 17 trains to get across the layout in a typical 3-hour operating session. Since the mainline run is not particularly long, the duration of many of the runs is lengthened by an switching maneuver or two (the autorack trains will spot and pull cars from the auto ramp at St. Charles, the pig trains will pick TOCF at the pig ramps). The 100-series freight trains will work the interchanges at Boonville and St. Charles, and will also block swap cars in the yard. The higher priority trains (coal, COFC, and expedited freight) will run the layout with no additional work.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy-peasy. Run the road. Eat snacks, Railfan a bit. Run some more trains. Chat with your friends. Life is good!

Dispatcher - The dispatcher’s desk is located just off the crew lounge, near the main staging area. Dispatching tool include a typical dispatching sheet, a computer monitor with track schematic that also serves as the means to select the staging tracks, and a separate monitor to view the staging track ladders. Dispatching the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision is fun and easy - it’s a great job for the beginner or novice dispatcher.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy to moderate. Click a mouse, and select staging tracks. Talk on the radio. Eat some snacks. Embrace the power that is yours for 3 hours! Life is good!
Layout Tour 

Layout Tour

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Geographical Overview

The MKT railroad ran from Galveston, Texas and San Antonio, through Dallas and Fort Worth then north through Oklahoma. A big division point was at Parsons, Kansas, where the MKT split, one Division going directly north to Kansas City (via trackage rights on the BN) and even further north to Lincoln, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa (via trackage rights on the MP/UP).

Another MKT Division ran from Parsons to St. Louis, Missouri, crossing the Missouri River at Boonville, Missouri. This Northern Division ran on track just north of the river to St. Charles, Missouri. At St. Charles, the MKT track angled north to meet up with the old CB&Q line at Machens Junction. The MKT track ended at Machens, and the MKT trains continued over CB&Q/BN track to the terminal MKT yard at Baden, Missouri.

The northernmost portion of this Northern Division, from Sedalia to Baden Yard, was called the “St. Louis Subdivision”, and is the portion modeled on this layout.

A good historical overview of the MKT (although with a Texas emphasis) can be found here.
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System Map

In 1984, the MKT tracks ran from Galveston, TX to a division yard in Parsons, Missouri. From Parsons, the track ran north to Kansas City and northeast to St. Louis, Missouri. The MKT also ran to Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska on trackage rights.

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Primary Locations on the Layout

Sedalia - West End Staging

The west end staging is located in a separate room from the main train room. The ten track single-ended set of tracks contain eastbound trains, originating from Dallas, Houston, and the big classification yard at Parsons, Kansas.

Although these track are called “Sedalia” tracks, the town of Sedalia is not modeled on the layout; the name Sedalia is just representative of off-layout destinations tp the west of the modeled portion of the railroad.

Staging turnout are controlled via the computer dispatching panel and also by operator-controlled panels at the staging fascia.

During an operating session, the dispatcher selected the staging tracks in and out of the staging yard. A pair of LED signals located in the train room can be used to monitor the progress of the train a it enters the staging room. Slow and rapid blinking aspect tell the operator that the train is approaching and then straddling the staging ladder. The LED goes solid red when the train is fully in the staging track and clear of the ladder.

Boonville
Boonville is the first town on the visible portion of the layout east from Sedalia Staging. The MKT interchanges with the UP/MP at Boonville, and there are several industries to switch in town.

The UP switching job is popular with rail fans operating on the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision, as you can switch cars AND watch the trains go by at the same time! On the prototype, the grade out of the Missouri River valley south out of Boonville was the ruling grade on the entire MKT system.
Missouri River Bridge
The Missouri River Bridge is a scenic element on the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision. Used to provide a lift-up opening across the door to the train room, the prototype bridge at Boonville was a lift span across the Missouri River.
Franklin Yard
In the steam era, Franklin Yard served as a division point and helper district for for the long grade south out of the Missouri River valley (the ruling grade on the entire MKT system). In 1984 on the St. Louis Subdivision, Franklin Yard is a busy classification yard, receiving cars for distribution on the visible portion of the railroad and for destinations east and west. A diesel servicing facility is located at FY, and many through trains will have their locomotives refueled at this location.
New Franklin
Originally established in 1828 after a flood destroyed the original town of Franklin, New Franklin has enjoyed an historic and colorful history. This area was the official beginning of the Sante Fe Trail and is the site of the Hickman House, the oldest known brick structure west of the Mississippi River. The St. Louis Sub serves the local industries here, including the bustling New Franklin Industrial Park, with its mix of contemporary and traditional industrial clientele. New Franklin is also the site of the Yellow Dog Cafe, where MKT trainmen grabbed many a greasy sandwich for the journey to St. Louis.
Westinghouse (North Jefferson)
North Jefferson is located just across the river from Missouri's State Capital, Jefferson City. North Jefferson is noted as the location of North End's largest customer, Westinghouse.

Maker of large commercial and custom transformers, Westinghouse is a prized client of the MKT, and warrants its own regular local train out of Franklin Yard. Shipments of inbound coil steel and outbound transformers can be seen regularly at Westinghouse.
Columbia Branch
Columbia is served by a branch line off the main, called the "Nine-mile" because it was nine miles long. The Columbia Branch climbs gently out of the Missouri River valley along Perche Creek to the bustling college community. The MKT serves several industries at Columbia, including the big Philips Lighting Plant and the power plant for the University of Missouri.
Mokane
Mokane is a small farming community located just east of the branch line to Columbia. Basically just a siding with a few industries, many westbound trains are held at Mokane awaiting permission to enter Franklin Yard. Mokane derives its name from the original railroad that established the town, the Missouri, Kansas & Eastern, or MK&E. Mokane is correctly pronounced “mo-KANE-ey", but most railroaders use the more intuitive "MO-kane".
Rhineland
Rhineland lies in the lush wine country of Missouri's "Rhine Valley". The town was founded by German emigrants who dreamed of a New World utopia that would be "German in every particular." Rhineland now boasts a Bunge soybean processing plant, a Yuasa Battery manufacturing facility, and several long-time local industries that have been served by the MKT for decades.
St. Charles
St. Charles, now a bedroom community for St. Louis, has grown with the MKT since the late 1800, when the Missouri, Kansas, and Eastern was built from St. Louis west. The MK&E trackage eventually became the St. Louis Subdivision of the MKT. Several industries are served by the Katy at St. Charles, most notably the Tavern Rock Sand and Gravel Company. Noted for its vein of ultra pure silica sand, Tavern Rock was busy in the late 1950s and early '60s providing silica for missile nose cones. Tavern Rock is busy today providing sand for all the major glass makers in the US and Canada.

Other major industries at St. Charles include the the piggy back trailer-on-flat-car ramp, an auto rack facility, the ACF Rail Car repair facility and the interchange with the Norfolk Southern.
Baden Yard (East End Staging)
Baden Yard (East end staging) marks the end of the line for the MKT. Baden Yard was reached via CB&Q (later BN) trackage at Machens, and across the Bellfontaine Bridge to near downtown St. Louis just north of the St. Louis Arch. In years past, Katy passenger trains would continue to the St. Louis Union Station. As modeled on the St. Louis Sub, Baden is a terminal yard, and interchanges eastbound revenue cars with several railroads on both sides of the Mississippi River.

The St. Louis Terminal Railway Association (TRRA), partly owned by the MKT, provides interchange service between Baden and the other local railroad yards. Alas, the real Baden Yard is long gone…
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A little more about Franklin Yard

The tracks of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad were completed to Franklin in 1893. A roundhouse and shops were located in low, swampy, bottom land just southwest of New Franklin, known as Franklin Junction. In 1895, a two-story depot was built at this section and served as a division terminal office for twelve years. It was moved to a location closer to New Franklin on a string of flatbed cars and later burned.

In 1906, the Businessmen's Association of New Franklin acquired the land for the railroad to build a reservoir to supply water for the mighty steam engines. This secured the permanent division point for location at the Franklin Junction yards. The Katy Reservoir, as it became known, lies just to the north of the railroad yards at Franklin.

The expenditure of 15.5 million dollars by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway in 1923 for improvements to the railroad yards, again assured the growth and continuation of the railroad division point location in Franklin Junction.

Construction of a forty-room hotel, a new powerhouse, an addition to the roundhouse and a new 90-foot turntable, were built by the Katy, along with machine stops, a new depot and office buildings. An immense oil tank 30 feet high and 114 feet in diameter with the capacity of 55,000 barrels of oil was erected to store oil for locomotives. Franklin became an important railroad center in 1923. Katy payroll was nearly a half-million dollars in 1930-31, with the New Franklin-Franklin area being the second largest of the companies in the state.

The beginning of WWII, 1939-1945, produced floods of rail tonnage and consequent year of prosperity for all railroads. Unfortunately, coal, chemicals and petroleum derivatives needed for treating the railroad ties were in short supply, as was good quality timber. Some twenty to twenty-five years later the wartime installation of inferior ties and the long stretches of fifty and ninety pound rails posed serious problems in the maintenance programs of the Katy as the postwar fortunes of the Katy deteriorated.

By the 1980s, it was evident the once undaunted, proud, thundering rails of the pioneering Katy were losing steam. The Katy was sold to the Union Pacific Railroad in 1986 and all her rails across Missouri lay abandoned and silent.

In the spring of 1990, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources transformed the 225 mile long rail beds into the Katy walking and bicycling Trail State Park, following the diverse and beautiful countryside of the once thundering rails known as the "Katy."

A little more about the Columbia Branch

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Running nine miles from McBaine to the end of the line, the branch line to Columbia has an interesting and diverse history.

Much of the original 75 lb rail originally laid down in 1901 was still in use when the branch line was removed from service in 1977, following a suspicious trestle fire just south of town.

The locals always ran during the week, never on the weekends, to make sure that the section crews would be available in case of a derailment…which happened often on the Columbia Branch.

Locals were called “as-needed” and the trains run under a standing 5 mph speed restriction along the entire length of the Columbia Branch. The locals were served exclusively by GP-7 - the lightest locomotives in the Katy fleet.



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The MKT Columbia Depot was built in 1909 and placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979.

Images of the Columbia Local - 1975-1976

Videos 

MKT Videos!

Warning! Total awesomeness ahead! May cause extreme enthusiasm for all things green!

Please consult your physician for excitement lasting more than four hours. Don’t say we did’t warn you…

MKT Extra 197 eastbound at Kirkwood, Missouri - August 21, 1988 (The Katy’s final day)

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The last Katy train to cross the Missouri River Bridge at Boonville - May 23, 1986

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A great tribute to the MKT - the groovy music is just an added bonus!

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MKT Extra 327 passing North St. Louis - April 10, 1988

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MKT Extra 327 passing North St. Louis - April 10, 1988

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Trains of St. Louis - 26 minutes of great railfanning from the late 1980’s, including the Katy, MP. the Rock, IC, UP. and others!

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All videos were created by others and linked to this website through YouTube.
FAQs 

In case you were wondering…

It’s called “irony”, like calling a bald guy “Curley” or a chubby guy “Slim”.

Or like calling the Chiefs a professional football team.

ps: feel free to call me “Slim”
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Are you INSANE?!
Those sweet babies are none other than Kasper MK VII, Rev 2 turnouts, the best turnouts money can’t buy. These engineered marvels have been known to make Swiss watchmakers shake their heads with envy, and are assembled with solder augmented with the sweat of Nobel Prize winners. The gauge on these turnouts is so precise that the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratory (NIST) uses a Kasper MK VII to calibrate the official length standards for the United States and the United Nations countries. NIST even created a new unit of length for that purpose: the Kasper (Ka).
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Yes! The power plant serves the University of Missouri, and was a steady customer for the Katy until the Columbia Branch was removed from service in 1977. The Katy would spot single hoppers of coal at the plant.
  1. Relax and have fun
  2. Keep the trains under 45 scale mph
  3. Anything odd or unclear, haul it back to Franklin Yard
  4. If you know a better way, let the layout owner know.
Rule G is a prohibition against railroad employees working while intoxicated. Consumption of adult beverages is allowed during operating sessions on the Mighty MKT. However, most of the drinking is done after the session by the layout owner. With a straw. While curled in a fetal position. And sobbing uncontrollably. And mumbling something about lost self-esteem.

And during couple’s night…don’t forget couple’s night!
Yes, but only at the risk of the kitchen collapsing onto Franklin Yard. In my younger days, I used to be able to squeeze between the pole and the yard fascia. Those days are long gone!!!
Yes, really. I know. It can be a pain. Just go nice and slow into and out of staging and all will be well.
Do I seem like I’m a stickler about ANYTHING? Life is too short to get berated for placing car cards on the layout. Lean them up against the cars. Place them along the bluffs. Use the little shelves. You won’t get any complaints from me.
Oh, I see that you are a man who focuses on the important things in life…like FOOD! Fear not! Plenty of snacks and beverages are alway provided at Katy operating sessions!
MKT History 

A Brief History of the MKT

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Inception and the Race to the Border
The Missouri Kansas & Texas Railway (MKT, or the "Katy") started as the Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch, (no corporate connection with the Union Pacific) in 1865. It was incorporated to build a line from Junction City, Kansas to New Orleans through Emporia, Kansas. After receiving a land grant in 1869, the railway company began construction. In 1870 it changed its name to the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway and reached the Kansas border at Chetopa. They also acquired the Tebo & Neosho, that went from Sedalia, Mo. to Parsons, Kansas. Also in the 1870's, they reached Denison, Texas, and, through an extension, went from Sedalia to Hannibal, Missouri. Jay Gould took control of the railroad in 1873, because he saw it as a feeder to his Missouri Pacific.
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1880s - Made it to Texas!
In 1881, the Katy reached Dallas and, through trackage rights on the Texas & Pacific, reached Fort Worth. Also in 1881, the Katy purchased the International & Great Northern, which belonged to Jay Gould. The two railroads connected at Taylor, Texas in 1882. In 1883 the Katy bought the Galveston & Henderson, which was leased to the I&GN by Gould. In 1886, the MK&T reached Paola, north of Parsons, Kansas, and with trackage rights on the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf reached Kansas City. In 1888, Jay Gould was ousted and the Missouri Pacific's lease was canceled. Control of the I&GN went to the Missouri Pacific in 1888.
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End of the Century - Made it to St. Louis!
In 1886, Texas had passed a law that required all railroads operating in the state to have general offices there. As a result of this law, in 1891 the Missouri, Kansas & Texas of Texas was founded to control all the Texas track. The rest of the 1890's saw the MK&T expand to Houston and St. Louis. In Houston, the MK&T connected with the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, a short line with 49 percent ownership by the MK&T.
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1900s - Expansion and Upgrades
In the early 1900's, the MK&T expanded to Shreveport, Louisiana, San Antonio, Texas, and Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Then in 1910 the MK&T reached Abilene by acquiring the Texas Central. In 1911, the MK&T acquired the Wichita Falls and Southern and the Wichita Falls and Northwestern. By 1915, the MK&T had a 3865 mile system that went from St. Louis and Kansas City to Galveston and San Antonio north and south and Shreveport to the Oklahoma panhandle east and west.
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1920s - Smooth Sailing
On July 6, 1922, the MK&T Railway was reorganized as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. During the reorganization, the Hannibal line and the Shreveport line were sold, as well as the line to Oklahoma City. Also, as part of the reorganization, the MKT built a new locomotive shop in Bellmead, Texas and a classification yard in Ray, Texas. With well-maintained rights-of-way and an efficient locomotive fleet, the MKT became a very competitive railroad in the 20's.
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1930s and ‘40s - War Boom and Post-war Decline
In the 1930's and 1940's, the MKT continued to prosper and projected an image of a well-maintained railroad. With the outbreak of World War II, as with most railroads, its traffic increased, especially northbound oil shipments. This new traffic, however, put a strain on the MKT's locomotive fleet, which had not been updated since 1925, and caused a significant track deterioration. After the war, the Katy went into another decline.
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The ‘50s - Not So Happy Days
In the 1950's, the MKT continued to decline as a result of lost revenues that had come from hauling ammunition and oil for the Korean War. Another contributing factor to the decline was an eight year drought that began in 1950 and had an impact on the agricultural part of the MKT's business. With all the capitalization costs incurred by dieselization and track improvements, the Katy was again in the red.
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The Groovy ‘60s
In the 1960's, the decline continued until the MKT discontinued passenger service, liquidated some bonds and secured some loans to rebuild. Scrap was cleaned up on the railroad, track rebuilt, new locomotives purchased and new freight cars leased and along with a reorganization the railroad was returned to profitability. At the close of the decade the MKT was a leaner, more efficient railroad.
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Prospering to a Sale
In the 1970's and 1980's, the MKT continued to prosper as unit trains of coal and grain, from connections with other railroads, increased. The Katy expanded when it acquired the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific line from Abilene, Kansas to Dallas, Texas through it's subsidiary, the OKT Railway. In 1985, the MKT opened itself for sale or merger and the Union Pacific Railroad made a bid. It wasn't until May 13, 1988, that the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the sale to the UP subsidiary Missouri Pacific. On August 12, 1988, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was officially absorbed by the Union Pacific Railroad and thus another chapter in American railroading came to an end.

- Adapted from The Katy Flyer (Newsletter of the Katy Railroad Historical Society)

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