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Southern Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad and Union Pacific 844 Chase, The Great Plains Transportation Museum and More

by Chris Guenzler

I was sent an e-mail about a train trip out of Winfield, Kansas and sent off for a ticket. When the Union Pacific announced that their steam engine 844 would be making a spring trip to Texas, I learned that it would be running from Coffeyville, Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri over the former Missouri Pacific the next day. I booked my nights at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata and Carole Walker, my excellent travel agent, reserved me my rental car and two nights in Parsons, Kansas at the Best Western there. Amtrak Guest Rewards took care of getting me to and from La Plata and I was set.


I started the day off with a train ride to Solana Beach before finishing packing. I was supposed to pick my mother up at the airport but received a call from Southwest Airlines that her flight had been cancelled. I called my sister- in-law Arlene, letting her know that she might have to pick up my mother. I then called Southwest who gave me the Oakland Airport paging number which got me in contact with my mother. She would come in on a 3:50 PM plane to Orange County but did not want to chance me missing my train. Arlene would pick her up and Mrs. Hartmann, Jeff's mother, would drive me to the station. I watched about 15 minutes of the Pittsburgh Penguins/Ottawa Senators hockey game before Mrs. Hartmann arrived just as the rain started. I walked through the station and went up and over the bridge to Track 1 to wait for my train to Los Angeles.

Pacific Surfliner 583 4/20/2010

The train arrived on time and I boarded Pacific Business Class for the trip to LAUPT, working on the story through Anaheim and on into Fullerton and I was now up-to-date. I read USA Today then just relaxed as we made the final sprint into LAUPT, arriving early. I walked over to Track 11 to wait for my train to La Plata to reverse in.

Southwest Chief 4 4/20/2010

The train reversed with a consist of engines P42DC 89 and 16, baggage 1241, sleepers 32071 "Arizona", 32117 "Wisconsin" and 32218 "Wyoming", Diner 38031 and lounge 33005 with coaches 34034, 31017 and 31019. I was in the "Wyoming" in Room 12 with Daniel as my Sleeping Car Attendant. I settled into my room and put on the Chicago CD "If you Leave Me Now" and relaxed until the on-time departure time of 6:45 PM. That was followed by the Sweet CD "Rock n' Roll Disgrace" which took me to Fullerton and dinner at 7:45 PM. I was seated with an Australian gentleman going to Detroit and enjoyed a steak and vanilla ice cream for dessert, after which I made up my room and called it a night.


I was in the dining car before Winslow, being served by the most excellent Richard Talmy and was seated with a gentleman who had travelled to New Orleans, Los Angeles and was heading home to Wisconsin. I had French Toast and sausage patties. After breakfast I returned to my room to watch my DVD's of "Southern Pacific Classic Steam with Sound Volumes 1 & 2". Volume 1 took me east of Gallup and Volume 2 continued me on my way east.

The mesas east of the Continental Divide. After the DVDs, I switched back to my CD of Metallica "Master of Puppets" that took me into Albuquerque, arriving early at 11:13 AM. I stepped off for some fresh air and ample sunshine on this most beautiful New Mexico day. I called my dear friend Randy Jackson and caught up on a few items we needed to discuss, during which two men were arrested for drugs in the sleeping car ahead on mine during our layover. After being outside for over an hour, I returned to my room and put on my CD of John Welton "Chasing the Dragon", which was still playing as we departed on time, while I did Word Fill-In puzzles for a change a pace. The next CD was Ted Nugent's "Full Bluntal Nugity" that took me past Lamy and over Glorieta Pass.

I then watched a new DVD of Jethro Tull "Live at AVO Session Basel". Outside of Watrous, the train slowed down, following the correct rules as the crew of this Southwest Chief had a Federal Railroad Administration test and did everything right, so once we reached the next green signal, we continued onto Raton. The Tull DVD finished and I charged my phone as I did puzzles then took a fresh air break at Raton before having dinner at 6:00 PM with a gentleman from Rancho Cucamonga. I enjoyed a steak and vanilla ice cream for dessert then afterwards, watched my DVD of "Led Zeppelin Live" as we neared Trinidad which took me until La Junta where I stepped off for a few minutes before making up my room and called it a night.


I arose just as we were leaving BNSF's Argentine Yard and after having orange juice and a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll, I prepared myself for the day. The train arrived in Kansas City early so I tried in vain to get online then after that, I put on my DVD of "Aerosmith Live" to get me on my way to La Plata in a good mood. The Los Angeles Kings lost Game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs last night to the Vancouver Canucks, thanks to Tom Anderson and my mother for that bit of information. The Southwest Chief departed Kansas City on time for my final sprint to La Plata.

A steel company switcher as we crossed the flyover leaving Kansas City. The Aerosmith DVD took to WB Junction then I switched to the Alice Cooper CD of "Dragontown" for the rest of the trip. The Southwest Chief arrived at La Plata a couple of minutes late and Shelli, Steve Grande's sister, was there to pick me up and take me to the Depot Inn & Suites.

La Plata 4/22/2010

I was back in the Sportsman's Suite for this one-night stay and went through the e-mails from the last two days before having a sauna tub bath. After that, I took the golf cart and drove to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

Spring has arrived into La Plata with trees full of leaves and flowers along the former Wabash Railroad grade.

With winter over, the golf cart returns for your use when visiting.

The view of where the former Wabash Railroad crossed the former Santa Fe Railway, now BNSF, Transcon Rail Line.

BNSF 9387 East was the first train of my visit.

Union Pacific 4840 West.

Union Pacific 5317 West.

Union Pacific 7413 West with DPU's on the rear.

BNSF 5521 West was my last train as I returned to the hotel and called Enterprise to pick me up. Within ten minutes an employee arrived and we drove up to Kirksville where I received a Dodge Caliber SXT. I drove back to La Plata and filled up the car then worked on the story until Matt Melzer stopped by for a visit. Later I went to the Red Rooster for dinner then relaxed the rest of the evening.

4/23/2010 A Heritage Day

I awoke at 6:45 AM and learned the Pittsburgh Penguins lost in the third overtime then checked my e-mail. After a quick continental breakfast, I moved the car undercover since it was raining hard and loaded it then checked out and drove out of La Plata, west on Missouri Highway 156 to Highway 3, which I took south to Clifton Hill.

The Wabash Clifton Hill station.

A Norfolk Southern freight passing through Clifton Hill. I turned right on US Highway 24 to Missouri Highway 3, wherer I turned right and continued to Missouri Highway 5, then right to Glasgow.

The former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio, originally Chicago and Alton, station built in the 1870's.

The former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio bridge, now Kansas City Southern, across the Missouri River, built in 1900 and replaced in 1993. From here I crossed the Missouri River on Missouri Highway 240.

My next stop was in Slater, Missouri.

The former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio station in Slater. I like the neon sign!

Kansas City Southern GP38 2022, ex. Kansas City Southern 4027, exx. SOO Line 4504, nee Milwaukee Road 354 built by Electro-Motive Division in 173.

Kansas City Southern GP40-3 2851, ex. Kansas City Southern 4744, exx. CSX 6575, exxx. Baltimore and Ohio 9000, nee Baltimore and Ohio 2000 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

From here I headed west to Marshall, Missouri.

The former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (originally Chicago and Alton) station built in 1906 and designed by Jarvis Hunt. It is s a one-story, brick and stone building with Jacobean Revival and Mission Revival style design elements, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

I then took US Highway 65 south to Sedalia.

The Missouri Pacific station built in 1885 and now used by Amtrak's Missouri River Runner.

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas freight station as seen from the Mill Street bridge.

I parked by the Katy Trail State Park sign where the Katy passenger station is located.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas station built in 1896. Designed by New York architect Bradford Gilbert, the depot is a two-and-a-half story, Romanesque Revival style red brick building on a limestone foundation. It has a two-story, modified octagonal primary facade, slate-covered hip roofs and a broad encircling gallery. The station closed to passenger traffic in May 1958 and currently houses the Sedalia welcome center.

One of the Katy Trail displays.

Union Pacific 6852 West from the Mill Street bridge. Bob and Amy Cox arrived and told me about the old Missouri Pacific shops, giving me directions.

The old Missouri Pacific shops from the west.

The shops from the east. From here I went to Engineer Street to wait for the Missouri River Runner Train 311.

The Missouri River Runner, Train 311, approaching.

The Missouri River Runner arriving at Sedalia.

On my way out of town, I went under the former Katy bridge on US Highway 50, which I took to US Highway 65 south to Missouri Highway 52. I went west to Windsor to my next stop.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas caboose 30, built by International Car in 1968 and lettered for the bicentennial 1776-1976. I continued on Missouri Highway 52 to Clinton.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas caboose 206 built by the railroad in 1949. From here I went west on Missouri Highway 7 to Harrisonville, where I took Missouri Highway 2 to the Kansas border, where it turned into Kansas Highway 68. I turned left on US Highway 169, stopping at KFC in Paola for a late lunch, after which it was a short drive to Osawatomie.

Union Pacific 7767 North at Osawatomie. I looked north and saw the reason I came here.

Union Pacific SD70 1982, the Missouri Pacific heritage unit.

Two views of Union Pacific 1982.

Four views of the details of this locomotive.

The rear of Union Pacific 1982.

The John Brown County sign.

Views from the 7th Street bridge.

A couple of final pictures before I departed and drove east to Henson then south down a county road to Kansas Highway 152, stoping at the BNSF crossing when I saw a green signal and an empty BNSF coal train was in the siding at La Cygne.

BNSF 9287 South at La Cygne, Kansas.

The DPU's on BNSF 9287 South.

The empty BNSF coal train in the siding. I drove east to US Highway 69 but went past it to get a picture.

The power plant across La Cygne Lake. From here I went south on US Highway 69 to Pittsburg, Kansas.

A Union Pacific coal train on the Kansas City Southern at Pittsburg. I returned to US Highway 69 south to US Highway 400, west to Parsons, Kansas where I checked into the Best Western Parsons Inn for the night.

Click here for Part 2 of this story