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I grew up in south Kansas City, about a mile west of the old Bendix plant and the MOP Coffeeville sub.  I could hear the trains blowing for the crossings in Dodson (85th & Prospect) at night.  It was a sound I loved at night when the house was dark and the suburbs were quiet.

My real exposure to trains was actually in the small town of Merna, Nebraska that sat along the CB&Q Alliance sub.  We spent several weeks there every summer at my grandmother’s home.  I could hear the trains coming from miles away and would run the five blocks across town to the tracks.  The lights of the train would appear on the horizon and I would sit and watch the train pass until the caboose had passed beyond sight in the opposite direction.  As CB&Q became BN and coal traffic began to take off, that scene would repeat for me dozens of times.  For years, I thought all locomotives came in cascade green.

 

However, back home in KC, we would drive down to Dodson on Saturdays where the local lumberyard and hardware supply was.  I would site outside, waiting for a train, hoping for a train.  Sometimes it was a Rio Grande or Katy train, and when it was, I was disappointed.

My junior high was just a few blocks west of the Dodson.  Hearing the trains throughout the day from the classrooms, imagining the blue locomotives and the red caboose, I was hooked on the MOP.

In High School a group of us would spend Friday or Saturday evenings sitting on a rock outcropping where the Coffeeville sub passed behind a neighborhood just south of 95th street.  We would sit there for hours, listening to music, talking about what high school boys talk about and waiting for trains.  Sometimes we would sit there from dusk to well after midnight.

 

My one regret is that while attending college at the University of Nebraska in the early 80s I was hardly aware of what was happening to the MOP.  For some reason other interests were foremost in a young man’s mind.  I spent precious little time watching the MOP, even though the yard and tracks were right there on the north edge of campus.  I thought the MOP would always be with us.  When I graduated and eventually moved back to KC in the late 80s, I found that much had changed.  Finding Jenks blue was becoming a rare treat.

Today, my office sits at 50th and Brighton, adjacent to the former MOP Coffeeville sub, and if it was Jenks blue rather than armour yellow and harbormist gray, I would probably be out the door and to watch every passing train.

Matt Kauffman

KCMO