Like many Class I railroads, the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac) has a long history of mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies. The MoPac began life as the Pacific Railroad, when ground was broken in St. Louis on July 4, 1851. The Pacific Railroad was the first railroad to operate west of the Mississippi River, a slogan MoPac was quick to incorporate in its advertising. In 1872, the Pacific Railroad was reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railway by investors after a debt crisis.
Jay Gould came into control of the Missouri Pacific in 1879 and held in until his death in 1892. Under Gould, the MoPac developed into Colorado, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, connecting much of the South to the Southwest. Upon Jay Gould’s death, the railroad transferred to his son, George Gould, who lost control of the company after it declared bankruptcy in 1915.
The Missouri Pacific was reorganized into the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Shortly afterword the MoPac gained controlling interests in the Gulf Coast Lines, International-Great Northern Railroad, and the Texas and Pacific Railway, giving the MoPac access to most major cities and towns in Texas.
Even with all this mileage, the MoPac was never on secure financial footing. MoPac again declared bankruptcy in 1933 during the Great Depression. The company then entered trusteeship until it was again reorganized and the trusteeship ended in 1956.
At the peak, the MoPac owned over 11,000 miles of track over 11 states from Chicago to Pueblo, Colorado, and from Omaha to the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, and southeast along the Gulf seaports of Texas and Louisiana. They operated over 1,500 diesel locomotives, and became a pioneer of computer-guided rail technology.
On December 22, 1982, the Missouri Pacific merged with the Union Pacific (UP) and Western Pacific (WP) Railroad companies, creating the largest railroad system of that time. This system was known as the Pacific Rail Systems, and it was operated under the Union Pacific holding company. At the time of the merger, MoPac owned more, newer locomotives, and operated more track than the UP or WP. On January 1, 1997, all motive power began the process of being repainted and merged into the UP.