Osage Division (the High Line)

Gateway to Kansas City

The Osage Division of the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad

The old Osage Division (also known as the "High Line", and the Holden Division) began as a railroad known as the St. Louis and Santa Fe Railroad, Missouri Division which was incorporated on April 20th, 1869. Completed in 1871, the railroad was a single-track, standard gauge steam railroad that ran approximately 38 miles from Holden, Missouri (In Johnson County) to the Missouri/Kansas state line. As St. Louis and Santa Fe Railroad, Missouri Division quickly went bankrupt; the Katy Railroad officially completed purchased the charter on May 29th, 1872.

Towns along this portion of the line included (from east to west):
  • Holden (Johnson County)
  • Benton (Benton City, McClurg P.O., Fenwick) [ghost town, Johnson County]
  • Gunn City (Cass County)
  • East Lynne (Cass County)
  • Harrisonville (Cass County)
  • Freeman (Cass County)
  • West Line (State Line) [Cass County]
However, involvement may have dated back to 1870 (at the inception of the line) when Levi Parson and Francis Skiddy set into motion their plan to see the Katy Railroad would be the first to reach Indian Territory and the only allowed to tap the riches of Texas and the Southwest. To this end, Parson and Skiddy set into motion a much larger plan that included the chartering of the Neosho Valley and Holden Railroad in Kansas. The charter for the Neosho Valley and Holden Railroad in Kansas was issued on May 7th, 1870. On the same day, the Neosho Valley and Holden Railroad entered into an agreement allowing for the merger and consolidation of the company with the Katy Railroad.

The Neosho Valley and Holden Railway Company was effectively a paper railroad and did not construct any railroad. The original plan of the Neosho Valley and Holden Railroad was to connect in the east with the St. Louis and Santa Fe Railroad, Missouri Division and continue west To Emporia. However, the rail line never reached Emporia; it only reached Paola, Kansas (where it connected with the Missouri Pacific Railroad). This created an orphan line with no connection to the main lines at either Emporia, Kansas or Sedalia, Missouri. Towns along the completed portion included:
  • Louisburg (Miami County)
  • Somerset (ghost town, Miami County)
  • Paola (Paola Junction) [Miami County]
On February 16th, 1880, the entire 54 miles Osage Division was leased to Jay Gould's Missouri Pacific Railroad as a part of the two railroads' good neighbor policy. During this period, the rail line was known as the St. Louis, Kansas and Arizona Division of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. However, this arrangement would not last and in 1895, construction began to tie the orphaned line into the main Katy Railroad line, southwest of Sedalia at a point called Bryson (Rodelia, Kansas City Junction) [ghost town Pettis County].

Towns founded along the new portion of the Osage Division of the Katy included (from east to west):
  • Sutherland (ghost town, Johnson County)
  • Leeton (Johnson County)
  • Post Oak (ghost town, Johnson County)
  • Chilhowee (Johnson County)
  • Magnolia (ghost town, Johnson County)
However, the connection to the mainline of the Katy did not ensure survival and the Osage Division (also known as the Holden & Paola line and, later, the Holden Division) closed in 1958. Today, the site of Bryson is marked by a sign on the Katy Trail with no mention of the Osage Division's existence.

This portion of the Katy Railroad is not a part of the Katy Trail system in Missouri and was returned to the local residents, most of the railbird has been destroyed.

Thanks to Dr. R. Zane Price for contributing information about this route.

Link the the Abandoned Rails site showing the former route of the Osage Division
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Bryson to Paola
from 1944 timetable
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Holden Division timetable (date unknown)
click to embiggen

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Last run on the High Line
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Pettis County, MIssouri

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The eastern end of the Osage Branch started in Pettis County, Missouri at the unincorporated town of Bryson.

Bryson was also known as Kansas City Junction and Rodelia (as shown on this 1904 county map.

(cllck on the maps to embiggen)

Johnson County, MIssouri

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Much of the Osage Division passed through Johnson County, Missouri, including the towns of Sutherland, Leetoh, Postoak, Chilhowee, Magnolia, and Kingsville.

Cass County, MIssouri

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The line continued east through Cass County, Missouri, including the towns of Gunn City, Harrisonville, Freeman, and Westline.

Miami County, Kansas

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Pixelated blowup showing track

At the Missouri-Kansas state line, the Osage Division crossed into Miami County, Kansas.

In Miami County, the track passed through Louisburg, Somerset, and then to the western end of the division at Paola, Kansas. At Paola, the Osage Division joins the MKT line coming up from Parsons, Kansas.

Katy trains entered Kansas City via track rights north on the Friso at Paola.