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Records of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company

 Collection — Volume: 1
Call Number: RH MS DK13


This collection is a payroll ledger for the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company for 1896 and 1897. The Belt line was the beginning section of what became the Kansas City Southern Railway. While KC Southern is written at the head of this ledger, the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company did not become the Kansas City Southern Railway until three years after this ledger was completed. The pages of the payroll ledger document jobs, names, and amount of pay for Belt line workers. Each page is signed by D. W. Rider, superintendent of the Belt line. David Wilson Rider became the superintendent of the Kansas City Belt Railway in October 1892. He began railway work as a messenger boy at the age of fourteen, working his way up through switchman, brakeman, conductor, yard master, station agent, eventually becoming superintendent. A brief biography of him has been documented in the Kansas City Press Club’s, Men of Affairs in Greater Kansas City, 1912, and Carrie Westlake Whitney’s, Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People, 1808-1908.


  • 1896 - 1897


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company

The Kansas City Southern Railway Company was conceived by entrepreneur Arthur Edward Stilwell as a way to link the Midwest to international trading via the ocean. A rail line from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico would cover only 800 miles, whereas rail lines to ports on the Atlantic coast covered 1400 miles. Stilwell saw a line between Kansas City and the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to save on shipping costs. Stilwell and Kansas Citian, Edward Martin, began by creating the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railway which travelled from the Argentine District in Kansas City, Kansas, through the industrial districts of Kansas City and east to Independence, Missouri. This section of the Belt line was incorporated in 1887 and began operation in August 1890.

Stilwell's ideas continued to expand, extending a rail line further south to the Arkansas Oklahoma coal lands to become the Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith Railroad in 1889. This line also progressed through coal fields to the lead and zinc mines of Joplin, Missouri by 1893. By 1897, the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad ran from Kansas City to the Gulf port city of Port Arthur, Texas. This length of railroad became The Kansas City Southern Railway (KCSR) Company in March 1900.

The acquisition of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway Company in 1939 connected Kansas City to New Orleans. The Southern Belle offered luxury passenger service between the two cities from 1940 to 1969. In 1949, the Southern Belle housed 4 bedroom/4 roomette Pullman sleeping cars, diner and tavern-lounge-observation car, chair cars, and the latest improvements in mechanics. Shrinking revenue forced this service to close in 1969 and put full focus on freight service and continually improving technology.

In 1994, the KCSR acquired the MidSouth Rail Corporation. This brought the company into Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. The corporation still sought expansion of the rail lines, and in 1995 entered into an agreement with the Mexican-based company Grupo TMM, S.A. de C.V. and purchased stock in the Texas Mexican Railway Company. This expanded the railway's reach into Mexico. The KCSR reached Panama with an investment in the Panama Canal Railway Company in 1998. In 2001, a merger took place with the Gateway Western Railway Company that moved the KCSR east toward Illinois. In 2012, the biggest business for the Kansas City Southern was their freight service that connected the Mid-West to Mexico and Panama; and with their oversea shipping relationships, throughout the world.


1 volume

Language of Materials


Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Charles Apfelbaum, 2009.


  • Whitney, Carrie Westlake, Kansas City, Missouri: its history and its people 1808-1908, Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1908
  • Kansas City Southern,, accessed May 2013
  • Pitcher, Charles The Kansas City Southern Lines,, Kansas City Southern Historical Society, accessed May 2013
Guide to the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company Collection
Records of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company
Finding aid prepared by acs, 2013; revised by mhr, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company Collection, RH MS Dk13, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States