Kansas City Southern, which began as the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf in 1890, was completed to the Gulf of Mexico in 1897. The KCS name dates from a turn-of-the-century reorganization in which founder Arthur Stilwell was ousted. KCS acquired Louisiana & Arkansas in 1939, and remained a stable mid-sized system until the 1990’s, when, beset with mega-mergers all around, began expanding by acquiring regional lines and linking up with Mexico, marketing its newly expanded system under the banner the Nafta Railway.
TFM (Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana) was one of three principal railroads formed by the privatization of the National Railways of Mexico. Start-up date was June 24, 1997. TFM’s 2,661-mile network is shaped roughly like an “I.” Routes from the border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros come together at Monterrey and run south to Mexico City, where lines run east to Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico and west to Lazaro Cardenas on the Pacific coast. In 1996, Kansas City Southern and partner Transportacion Maritima Mexicana placed the winning bid for TFM’s 50-year operating concession (the government retained ownership of the track and real estate, and held a stake in the railway). By 2005, KCS had become sole owner of TFM, buying out TMM’s 41% share and the government’s 20% stake. KCS renamed its subsidiary Kansas City Southern de Mexico.
Gateway Western (GWWR) is a 408-mile regional linking East St. Louis, Ill., with Kansas City, created on January 9, 1990. Originally the Kansas City, St. Louis & Chicago, the line came under Chicago & Alton control in 1878, but was never a profit-maker under successors Alton Railroad, GM&O, and Illinois Central Gulf. On April 28, 1987, ICG sold the K.C. line, and the Chicago (Joliet)-East St. Louis main line, to new 633-mile regional Chicago, Missouri & Western. Ill-fated CM&W soon went bankrupt. Southern Pacific, through new subsidiary SPCSL Corp., bought the Joliet main line on September 29, 1989; this route passed to UP in the 1996 SP merger. Santa Fe, always wanting St. Louis-area access, arranged for a New York investment firm to purchase CM&W’s K.C. line, which created Gateway Western. After the BNSF merger in 1995, Santa Fe no longer needed the route, and KCS acquired GWWR on May 5, 1997.
Texas Mexican, or “Tex-Mex,” traces its beginning to the Corpus Christi, San Diego & Rio Grande Narrow Gauge, chartered to build from Corpus Christi to Laredo in 1875. It was renamed Texas-Mexican in 1881 and came under control of the National Railways of Mexico, but after 1902 that interest was held in the U.S. In 1982 NdeM sold Tex-Mex to a private Mexican firm. KCS acquired a 49 percent interest in 1996, and now uses it to link KCS and the newly privatized eastern Mexican carrier TFM, in which KCS also has an interest.
Louisiana & Arkansas’ first ancestor, Louisiana Railway & Navigation, built between New Orleans and Shreveport during 1896-1907, and extended to McKinney, Texas, near Dallas, in 1923 by acquiring a Katy branch. A southwestern Arkansas logging road begun in 1896 had been renamed Louisiana & Arkansas Railway by 1906, and in 1928 LR&N and L&A merged, taking the L&A name. Kansas City Southern acquired all L&A stock in 1939 and operated it as part of the system, but kept L&A as a subsidiary until 1995.
MidSouth Rail Corp. was created to purchase 373 miles of Illinois Central Gulf, effected March 31, 1986. MSRC was mostly the ex-Illinois Central route between Meridian, Miss., and Shreveport, La., whose earliest ancestor was the Clinton & Vicksburg (1833). On September 8, 1987, MSRC acquired the North Louisiana & Gulf and its subsidiary, Central Louisiana & Gulf (a former Rock Island line), and combined them as subsidiary MidLouisiana Rail Corp. Kansas City Southern bought out MidSouth on January 1, 1994.
Gulf & Mississippi was Illinois Central Gulf’s first major 1980’s regional spinoff, on July 10, 1985, but the 715-mile carrier-comprised mostly of two parallel ex-Gulf, Mobile & Ohio north-south lines in Mississippi-was never healthy. It was facing bankruptcy when MidSouth, in part to preserve the then-hot regional-spinoff movement, acquired G&M through new subsidiary SouthRail Corp., on April 14, 1988. Most G&M lines survive under Kansas City Southern.