The 2023 Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad commemorative coins are in and ready for purchase before the Katy Days festival.
The minting of collectible Katy three-coin sets began in 2013. The only year missed was 2020, so organizers minted a 2020-2021 coin set. The 2023 coins are for sale along with past year’s coin sets that are still available, project coordinator Steve Farrell said.
Each year, one coin features a prominent person with the Katy Railroad and another coin features a railroad union. The third coin has varied in its settings.
One coin in the set this year features Katy President Matthew S. Sloan’s 1936 Chrysler Airflow Sedan that was modified to ride the rails, turning it into his own M-400 inspection car, which was driven by a uniformed chauffeur.
Based on Sloan’s fondness for the Chrysler New Yorker, in 1943 the Katy shops in Parsons completed the revision of six 1942 model Chrysler New Yorker automobiles that were used as inspection cars by the six Katy district superintendents, Farrell said. They were numbered M-401 through M-406 and were cared for by assigned drivers.
Farrell pulled out a book, the “Missouri-Kansas-Texas Lines In Color” by Raymond B. George Jr. and opened it to a photo showing M-401, assigned to Superintendent C.W. Campbell of Katy’s Eastern District headquartered in Franklin, Missouri.
While the cars had assigned drivers, it is an interesting term given “the cars had no steering wheels, since their flanged wheels never left the rails, and were equipped with a built-in turntable that was lowered to turn the vehicle to face the opposite direction,” George Jr. wrote. “The cost of purchasing and revising each car was quite reasonable, $3,811.59.”
Farrell said five of the cars were still in service in 1959.
“When they discontinued them, they put them in an old warehouse where Wood’s Lumber was, in back of the old Red Bull. They sold them for scrap,” Farrell said, shaking his head.
The second coin features the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen (B of LF&E), Farrell said.
The early brotherhood was a North American railroad fraternal benefit society and trade union in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Brotherhood of LF&E was founded on Dec. 1, 1873, in Port Jervis, New York, by Joshua A. Leach and 10 other Erie Railroad firemen.
The men’s jobs were extremely dangerous and physically taxing.
A story in The Katy Flyer recounting the history, reported that the men had recently been forced to pass on the news of a fatal accident in a wreck of a fellow fireman to his wife, and they decided to establish a mutual benefit society for those employed in the firemen’s trade. They organized into a network of lodges where members could discuss matters of common concern.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen took the form of a secret society, complete with an elaborate initiation ritual, membership oaths, secret signs of recognition and formulaic protocol for the conduct of lodge meetings inspired by Freemasons.
Their motto was ”Protection, Charity, Sobriety, Industry.”
The word enginemen was added later, as some of the members began being promoted to engineer.
Over time, Farrell said, the brotherhood took on the function of a trade union and eventually merged in 1969 with three other railway labor organizations to form the United Transportation Union.
The third coin this year recognizes Miss Katy 1967-1970, Jane Kairuz. The 1967 annual report from the Katy served to introduce Miss Katy, the cover girl of that issue. “She will, in the future, symbolize this railroad just as Uncle Sam symbolizes the United States, or John Bull stood for Great Britain when it was an Empire. Miss Katy will reflect the Katy Railroad’s image wherever she appears,” a story in the report said.
Miss Katy originated as an advertising campaign for the railroad, promoting its hospitality. The campaign was successful. By some standards, it was too successful, eventually being eliminated in 1905 because they didn’t want the railroad being referred to as the Katy instead of M-K-T. Despite their efforts to eliminate the name in the early 1900s by forbidding its use among employees, the name persisted. Over time, the Katy name was popularized again, and in 1967 John W. Barriger, president of the Katy Railroad, decided to revise the old advertising campaign that had worked in the 1800s and Miss Katy came about again.
Anyone interested in the three-coin sets can purchase them at Katy Days or by calling Farrell at (620) 423-4346.
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