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Missouri Pacific - Great Plains-West Rail Gallery
Missouri Pacific
featuring photography by Glen Beans, the James Gilley collection & Paul DeLuca

MP 213 and CNW 1545, - the Geeps offer comparative views while switching cars at the joint MP/C&NW yard near Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The date is April 19, 1974. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission

When J. Gould began to push the Missouri Pacific into Nebraska, he didn't see the young town of Lincoln as being an important enough freight center to bother. So he bypassed Lincoln in his march to Omaha - that is until August 1886, when ribbons of rail were laid west from Union, part of the KC-Omaha mainline. Two track crews were used, one from Lincoln and one from Union and Weeping Water to meet in the middle. One story has it that the line was finished at Peck's Grove, now northeastern Lincoln. Another story states that the two crews met east of Elmwood.

Lincoln finally had a branch line connected at Union to the Omaha line, and the growing Missouri Pacific Railroad system. Traffic from Omaha and Kansas City could reach the young town as well as other new communities.

The Missouri Pacific had staked it's claim in Lincoln. The original idea was to have the line push westward, and this got as far as the Union Pacific connection on the salt flats west of Lincoln (interchanging with UP continued here until the merger). In the early years the rail business boomed with transporting grain, livestock, coal, limestone, and lumber.

Shortly after the line was completed, a depot was constructed at 9th and "S" Streets in the Haymarket district, within sight of the CB&Q's Lincoln Station. The MoPac shared the facility with the Freemont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley (later the Chicago & North Western) as well as some jointly operated rails. The station, which came to be known as Union Depot, was remodeled again in 1953

The carrier originated from Missouri and constructed parts of its trackage in Southeast Nebraska as subsidiary companies to the MoPac. Eventually about 347 route miles would operate in Nebraska.

MP 1542 - a MP15 DC, at Lincoln, Nebraska. Though it's November 1974, from the looks of the engineer's cap, it's easy to imagine things haven't changed too much since the days of steam power. Also compare the newer modification of an extended 'box' on the hood just before the cab to that of #1534's delivered appearance. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission.

Over the years the MoPac kept a solid presence along the branch line. The daytime switch engine crew would build a train at Lincoln to be taken by a road crew to Union, then back to Lincoln. In 1963 the late evening departures were moved up to late afternoon... around 5 p.m., in order to get the road engines back in time for the switch yard crew the next morning. The railroad ran everything they had into Lincoln at some time or another, but they did have some preferances for the branch. By the late1970's the equipment had changed many times - gray and blue had long since given way to solid blue for economy back in 1962. A pair of sleek new GP15's or slightly older GP38-2's had replaced the aging GP7's and F7's, which before them had replaced the varied mix of steam driven locos like the Ten-Wheelers, the pride of passenger crews on the branch in the 30's. But always the service continued as it had everyday except on Sundays, a traditional rest day. Occasionally the day off was changed for football Saturdays, and operations were suspended due to the Mopac's close quarters to the University of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium... a very wise decision in light of the crew's challenging efforts to switch cars among rabid Big Red fans. When the city wished to expand "O" Street to four lanes, the railroad replaced it's bridge over the street in July 1971, becoming the largest rail landmark in town. For awhile, a pair of new MP15ACs yard switchers, #1533 and 1532 were seen building trains in the Lincoln yard during 1974. By the mid 1970's the through train, #171 and 172 were performing the local switching operations. The Lincoln switch crew was discontinued service in July 1975. This left one train to do everything, occasionally with a switch crew being brought back briefly during times of heavier traffic.

Disaster happened in 1984 when heavy flooding damaged the steel rails, totally washing away a bridge crossing just west of the town of Weeping Water. The price for repairs along the tracks would be high... very high for a 47-mile long branchline.

There was a growing lack of sufficient revenue from the the smaller towns to keep up with the costs of modern railroading. There were also growing conflicts with traffic, and the two year-old merger with the Union Pacific provided alternate access to Lincoln. In fact, after the MP-UP merger, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (M-K-T) was now using the branch quite a bit to access Lincoln markets, and had an option to buy the line. But, as things went, the UP bought the Katy and this possibility faded. The railroad deemed to petition for abandonment of the right-of-way between Weeping Water and Lincoln, just two years short of the branch's 100th anniversary. The towns of Wabash, Elmwood, Eagle, and Walton which sprouted and prospered alongside the line had been axed from the system. Weeping Water too, lost direct routes to Lincoln and Omaha, but had kept busy enough moving cars to and from Union and Louisville.

With a train of three covered hoppers, MoPac GP15 #1668 made the final trip from Lincoln to Elmwood and back on August 2, 1986. On May 13, 1988, scrapping of the branch from Lincoln's 33rd Street all the way to Elmwood began.

In a just a matter of a few years the Missouri Pacific railroad, the blue engines with their white eagles and war-paint on the nose, the friendly wave from a bright red caboose, and ultimately the tracks themselves were all gone. The right-of-way, which had once rumbled daily with passengers filled with hopes and dreams, and supplies of grain, coal, lumber and goods to nurish a small college town into a prosperous city, has been preserved today as a very popular 30-mile long bike path... still puncuated by the caws of bluejays in the shadey elm trees.
(condensed from Screaming Eagles - MoPac in Nebraska History)


Special thanks to photographer Glen Beans for the use of many of his images taken while a student at UNL. Due to their large file size, Glen Beans' full-size photos are linked to a different server - which can be stubburn at certain times. If you can't get a full size image to load the first time, close the pop-up window and try again. We apologize for any inconvenience.

MoPac images presented here is just a fraction of what we offer at Screaming Eagles Over the Prairie, the Rail Galleries' sister site.

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for our more extensive collection of MoPac images


Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

MP 184 - a GP7, the mainstay on any given MP branchline, first entered MoPac rails in 1950 and stayed there for 30 years. #184 is seen on the college campus at Lincoln, Nebraska in December 1973. Photographer Glen Beans caught the scene on film while a student there. - © Glen Beans photo, used with permission. Note: this is a hi-res image (300 kb) with excellent detail.

MP 217 - This Geep is coupled to a yard switcher at Lincoln, Nebraska in September 1974. The pair appear to be parked near the freight station. This entire area is devoted to a parking lot today. Notice the dark blue and MoW orange truck behind the Geep's nose. Is this a MP truck? - © Glen Beans photo, used with permission. Note: this is a hi-res image (297 kb) with excellent detail.

MP 221 - the chop-nosed GP7 is hard at work switching out cars at Lincoln, Nebraska in March 1975. Grain, cement, lumber and dry goods were the main commodities hauled in it's day-to-day routine. - © Glen Beans photo, used with permission. Note: this is a hi-res image (330 kb)

MP 1534 - the duo of MP15 DC's are pulling through the yards and team tracks of Lincoln Station in Lincoln, Nebraska. The footings of the Ninth Street overpass seen in the background now occupy the former site of a large and elaborate MoPac depot built in the 1800's. On this day of September, 1974, the railroad operates locally from a joint freight facility with the C&NW - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (314 kb) with excellent image detail.

MP 1624 - with her brakeman at the ready, a GP7 rumbles through the UNL campus on a clear white day in Lincoln, Nebraska on March 5, 1976. Later it will make the 5pm run east to Union, then back home to Lincoln around midnight. - © Glen Beans photo, used with permission. Note: this is a hi-res image (330 kb)

MP 1652 - a GP7 modified with a chop-nose and 'torpedo tubes' at the joint MP/C&NW yards in Lincoln, Nebraska in April 1976. More of photographer Glen Beans' work can be seen at ABPR - © Glen Beans photo, used with permission. Note: this is a hi-res image (314 kb)

MP 2023 - a GP38-2 (2,000 hp) still a bluebird, but beginning to show signs that it's being stripped of it's MP heritage. Lincoln, Nebraska, 4/9/89 - photo courtesy of James E. 'Grumpy' Gilley collection, himself an excellent rail photographer of the region.

MP 2032 - another GP38-2, which appears ready for the east run to Union from Lincoln, Nebraska on March 5, 1976. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (330 kb) with excellent image detail.

MP 2088 - "The never happy MoPac" with it's frowny-faced nose stripes, a GP38-2 (built 2/73) leads 232 (also MP owned, formerly #4832), a B30-7 in canary colors on a frosty Kansan day. Number 2088 is wearing the early version of the blue-bird scheme with thinner reflective stripes, buzzsaw decal and small numbers high on the long hood. Marysville, Kansas, 3/5/89 - photo courtesy of James E. 'Grumpy' Gilley collection .

MP 3072 - this SD40, like other MoPac SD units, became a common sight on the UP at North Platte, Nebraska. Meanwhile, somewhere on the MoPac system a UP engine is likely filling it's place. The date is June 19, 1977 - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (330 kb) with excellent image detail.

Two screamin' eagle MoPac SD40-2s (lead engine 3103, built 8/73 - 3,000 hp) & a bright blue Conrail haul Lincoln Grain cars over rolling hills of prairie grass of the Omaha sub (now called the Falls City subdivision). Used with permission. © copyright Paul DeLuca. Paul, NE, 11/20/80

MP 3147 - an SD40-2 shares the burden with UP 2854 at North Platte, Nebraska, not long after America's Bicentennial this day of July 18, 1976. This unit is still almost new at just two years old, being built in February, 1974. The photographer, Glen Beans has posted many of his works to ABPR - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (349 kb) with excellent image detail.

MP 3330 - this U30 C is caught sandwiched between canary yellow on UP rails at Cozad, Nebraska in July 21, 1974. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission.

MP 12124 - stands guard near the grain silos alongside the former MP mainline to Omaha from Kansas City. The Lincoln Branch took a sharp lefthand turn from here as the MoPac set it's sites westward. Union, Nebraska; 5/10/97

Sublettered for Texas & Pacific, #13103 is parked on the college campus at Lincoln, Nebraska in October 1975. This evening it will be headed back east to Union, then it or a sister will make the return back again to Lincoln around midnight - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (260 kb) with excellent image detail.

Missouri Pacific, #13430 rests at Lincoln, Nebraska in September 1974, at the throat of the joint MP/C&NW railyard. Heading to the left the MoP branchline crosses the BN, then over Salt Creek to finally end at it's UP connection. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (327 kb) with excellent image detail.

MP 13491 rumbles over UP(?) track through Cozad, Nebraska on July 1977. - © copyright Glen Beans, used with permission. Note: this is a high-res file (236 kb).

MP 13495 - is an ex-C&EI streamline cupola caboose, built by C&EI '50. #13495 was one of the few from this group that survived long enough to wear the final eagle/buzzsaw scheme. It is seen here at Wichita, Kansas; 11/8/01

MP 13689 - at Rich Hill, Missouri; 11/12/01 - © T. Greuter photo

MP 13731 - at Denison, Texas; 11/11/01 - © T. Greuter photo

MP 7504 - still working for a living in MofW service on the UP. The former MP 13823 was rebuilt by UP in May 1995 and put into MofW service the following month. This shorty was spotted in the Council Bluffs, Iowa yard paired with a MP flat w/crane car on August 11, 2001

Screaming Eagles - MOPAC RR

for our more extensive collection of MoPac images


Featured Photographers:
Glen Beans, James Gilley collection, Paul DeLuca

Missouri Pacific Diesel Power
by Kevin EuDaly

Lincoln, A Photo History by James McKee and Arthur Duerschner

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Latest update: Thursday, 13 November, 2003

Glen Beans photos are linked directly to the ABPR Archive.

All photos & text 2000-2003 T. Greuter / Screaming Eagles , unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.