A Service Institution

Before World War II, the Missouri Pacific loved to use the thrilling and completely meaningless motto, “A Service Institution.” These blotters all appear to be from the pre-air conditioning era, which would put them in the 1920s or early 1930s. All are from the Dale Hastin collection. Click any image to download a PDF of that blotter.

Inaugurated in 1915 to connect St. Louis with Texas cities, the Sunshine Special was Missouri Pacific’s premiere train until introduction of the Texas Eagle in 1948. The train connected with Mexican trains at Laredo and with Southern Pacific trains at El Paso.

This blotter emphasizes the El Paso connection with Southern Pacific. The blotter doesn’t say, but presumably through cars went all the way from St. Louis to Los Angeles via this connection. As the Sunshine Special was air conditioned in 1933, these two blotters must be from before that year.

The Missourian was an overnight train between St. Louis and Kansas City, one of several MoPac trains between those two cities. At various times, the train continued to Wichita and connected with Rock Island trains to Los Angeles, but apparently not when this blotter was issued.

As this blotter notes, MP was the only railroad to exchange equipment with Mexican railroads to Mexico City. While the Aztec Eagle was sometimes advertised as a through train, this card notes that only sleeping cars (or, most likely, one sleeping car) crossed the border, at least at the time this card was issued.


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