Missouri Pacific Public Timetables, 1961-1971

Text and photos 2014 by Bill Pollard

Timetable collectors, as the de facto custodians of many railroad history details, have a particular interest in timetables documenting changes in service. First and last issues take on added historical importance, and in past years, the timetable issue date could often be counted upon to pinpoint changes as passenger service evolved and ultimately dissolved into Amtrak.

Unfortunately, in the case of Missouri Pacific, the publication of public timetables was sporadic at best during the last years of passenger service. As the number of trains declined, the issuance of public timetables became even more erratic. Through 1960, at least two system public timetables were issued each year. When Downing B. Jenks assumed the presidency of Missouri Pacific in early 1961, the public timetable budget was one of the early casualties, and both the full color cover and the large booklet style of timetable disappeared after the December 11, 1960 issue, replaced by a timetable with a much more austere appearance.

Timetables issued under the Jenks administration began with a September 24, 1961 timetable with a brown and white two-tone cover. A condensed version in black and white with the same cover date, was also issued. Occasional St. Louis-Kansas City route timetables were also issued, although these were smaller size folders.

MoPac's last public timetable, a single sheet of blue cardstock, was issued with a cover date of February 1, 1970. At that time, Texas Eagle service was operating only between St. Louis, Missouri, and Laredo, Texas; service to Houston having ended in April 1969 and service from Longview to Dallas and Fort Worth being discontinued a month later. Several significant changes to the Texas Eagle service occurred after this February 1970 timetable was issued, with little printed documentation. The accompanying web page documents the changes from February 1970 and until service was discontinued on April 30, 1971.

One might reasonably assume that the last public timetable issued by Missouri Pacific was the cardstock table issued on February 1, 1970. That assumption might be incorrect. There are actually two different timetables carrying issue dates of February 1, 1970, one containing the Texas Eagle schedule on the reverse and one with a blank reverse.

The two timetables are on a slightly different composition and color of cardstock, but even so, one speculation has been that the blank version is simply a printer's error. However, on closer examination, that seems unlikely.

The two timetables are identical on the face, except for the three dashes that denote no scheduled time for train 17 at Herman, Gasconade, and Chamois. In the earlier version (containing the Texas Eagle schedule on reverse) the dashes are present, but on the later (blank) version, the dashes are absent. If the later timetable had simply been a printer error which failed to get the reverse printing, every detail on the face of the timetable would still be identical.

Why the Missouri Pacific would reissue the timetable without bothering to revise the issue date or include the truncated Texas Eagle schedule on the reverse is unknown. However, because of this very minor oversight by the printer of the later timetable, we conclude that the true last timetable issued by Missouri Pacific was the version with the blank reverse. It is most likely that this timetable actually appeared in early 1971, perhaps to replenish supplies for the St. Louis and Kansas City trains. The blank schedules were not seen in Little Rock or Texarkana, and schedules handed out at the few remaining manned stations south of St. Louis ranged from unaltered to having the schedule south of Texarkana crudely marked out, and at least one version had the revised St. Louis - Texarkana schedule photocopied and stapled to the card. From the available evidence, it appears that all of these alterations to the Texarkana schedule were done by individual station agents and thus do not constitute an actual revised issue.

Thanks to Carl Loucks for highlighting the differences in MoPac's final timetables.

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