Home This Week in OKC History Events Last Gasp for Passenger Trains

Main Menu

RSS Feed


What is the most historic building in Oklahoma City?
Last Gasp for Passenger Trains PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Lackmeyer   
Sunday, 09 March 2008 00:00


MARCH 9, 2008 - This week, 40 years ago, the age of passenger rail service was on the verge of meeting its final demise.


Five passenger trains were still in service – the Kansas Cityan, which came through Oklahoma City at 12:55 a.m. daily en route to Fort Worth and Dallas, the Chicagoan, which passed through the capital daily at 3:25 a.m. on the way to Chicago, the Santa Fe Texas Chief, traveling back and forth between Kansas and Texas, and the Kansas City Southern train, which traveled through eastern Oklahoma via Sallisaw.


The Rock Island’s last passenger train passed through the city on November 20, 1967. The Frisco’s last passenger train made its last run through Oklahoma City that same year. But when a proposal came forward 40 years ago to discontinue Santa Fe’s Chicagoan, the Interstate Commerce Commission encountered howls of protest. But despite such concerns, the route cancellations would follow until most of the country’s passenger rail system was taken over by Amtrak.


At their peak during World War II, an estimated 70 trains a day passed through Oklahoma, with 50 going through Oklahoma City.


But when passenger rail was taken over by Amtrak in 1971, service was down to just the Texas Chief – which itself would be discontinued in 1979.

Part of that old route would be restored 20 years later as the Heartland Flyer, which runs daily from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth.


Train Whistle Ever More Lonely, March 10, 1968, Joseph J. Mays

Punctual Amtrak Welcomed by City, Mike Burger, May 2, 1971