"On a day in the fall of 1996, I took my camera to take a nostalgic photograph of a landmark that has been familiar to me all my life - the old Kansas City Southern Railroad Station. On a quiet afternoon or early morning, if one listens carefully and allows his imagination to go back in time, the whistles might be heard announcing the twice-daily approaches of the Flying Crow or the Southern Belle passenger trains."
- Resident, Betty Starr Barker.
The Kansas City Southern Railroad dis-continued is passenger service in the early 70s and soon after closed the depot. It was given to the city of Stilwell. Through the years, it has been occupied by various groups, and its current fate is in jeopardy because of the Highway 59 bypass. The Depot Committee has been formed to study the possibility of saving the building, however, a large part of the funding will have to be used first just to relocate the building.
The first move to build a railroad from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico had its beginning when Mr. E.L. Martin, a former mayor of Kansas City, held a franchise for building a belt line railroad around Kansas City. He involved Arthur E. Stilwell who assisted in securing capital from Philadelphia investors.
With completion of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Line, Stilwell and his associates soon laid plans fro a new railroad - the long-awaited direct line to the Gulf - and were the only ones that carried the project to completion.
The line was built by creating various construction companies to build various sections of the line and by buying and/or leading small existing railroads that could readily be incorporated into the system. On December 3, 1892, the directors approved the name change of the railroad to the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railway. Two more lines were acquired by the KCP&G in 1893 and 1894. In order for the KCP&G to build from Sulphur Springs, the railroad had to cross Indian Territory. Permission to construct across Indian lands was approved February 27, 1893.
In late 1898, the line's financial problems were so severe that it was necessary to seek support from eastern interests. These new stockholders sought to gain control of the company for themselves. On April 1, 1899, the road was forced into receivership. On May 19, 1900, the Kansas City Southern Railway Company was incorporated to acquire the Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Gulf, its subsidiaries, the Kansas City Terminal lines and the control of the Port Arthur facilities.
Subsequent events and presidents have caused the Kansas City Southern to grow, expand, and prosper. It has increased its mileage, capacity, and operating efficiency to a point that today, it is one of the most viable enterprises in the railroad industry. The KCS has contributed to or caused not only the development of major resources in these states, but it has helped to assure the utilization of the region's vast resources and development of new industries.
Come visit us in Stilwell, Oklahoma