KCS "Ghosts"

Paul De Luca photo at Como, TX on 7 September 1984

While revolutionary diesel technology was changing the face railroading during the years prior to WWII, the demand for more streamlined passenger equipment and locomotives was making railroad lines more colorful. The "Southern Belle", KCS's premier passenger service, is evidence of the role color could play in helping determine a company's marketplace presence.

By the early 1950s, the focus at KCS (as with other railroads) had shifted from marketing to operating ratios and cost cutting measures. Economy was the norm; the classy locomotive attire once worn by the railroad's first generation motive power gave way to different single-color schemes with simplified trim. Perhaps the most notable of the economy schemes arrived in 1966 concurrent with the delivery of KCS's first second-generation locomotives. Carbodies and cabs were done in solid white, with a gold frame stripe and a large red "KCS" on the long hood. This "ghostly" attire was replaced several years later by battleship grey with gold-nose chevrons; it was the last of the economy-driven schemes, prior to KCS's retro- looking "Belle" colors of five decades earlier.


First Generation

E8A 27 at Shreveport, Louisiana on 9 November 1969

WD Caileff Jr. photo (R. Craig collection)

H15-44m #45 at Altamont, Kansas in March 1971

Mac Owen photo

F7A 4059 at Sulphur Springs, Texas on 3 January 1982

Paul De Luca photo

Road Slug 4076 at Sulphur Springs, Texas on 4 July 1984

Mike Murray photo at Sulphur Springs, Texas

Yard Slug 4079at Dallas, Texas on 7 April 1995

Roberto Alaniz photo

GP30 4110 at Metairie, Louisiana on 18 September 1981

Mike Palmieri photo

GP7 4151 at Sulphur Springs, TX on 29 January 1984

Bob Courtney photo

GP9 4164 at Lake Charles, Louisiana on 18 February 1983

Rick Morgan photo

SW7 4314 at Kansas City, Missouri on 3 July 1987

Paul Deluca photo

Second Generation

SD40 642

Joe Blackwell photo

SD40-2 651 at Shreveport, Louisiana on 6 June 2004

David Hawkins photo

SD40-2 "snoot" 682 on 30 June 1985 at Stilwell, OKlaoma

Nathan Bailey photo

SD40X 700 on 11 July 1986 at Page, OKlahoma

Bob Courtney photo

SD50 708 at Neosho, Missouri on 8 December 1992,

Chuck Zeiler photo

GP40 787 at Texarkana, Texas on 13 November 1982

Paul De Luca photo

SW1500 1501 at Shreveport, LA on 27 November 1966

WD Caileff, Jr. photo (R. Craig collection)

GP38-2 4000 on 23 March 2002 at Shreveport, Louisiana

David Hawkins photo


Format by: R.Craig Revised: 13 May 2022

The following information comes from the May 1988 issue of The Crow, the monthly newsletter of the Kansas City Southern Historical Society, which was edited by Lowell McManus: -- NEW LOCOMOTIVE LIVERY? KCS SD40-2 652 has been repainted into the following new experimental paint scheme: The basic color is a medium gray, described by one observer as "not nearly as dark as SP's." The front of the short hood is tiled from top to bottom with yellow chevron stripes, broader than those formerly used by MoPac. The big red "KCS" lettering remains on the side of the long hood, as does the yellow stripe along the side of the frame. The trucks and fuel tank are black. The number is in red below the cab window, and the octagon herald is absent from the locomotive. The repainted unit, called The Gray Ghost by some employees, is now in regular use."

The Crow also reported in December 1988: A NEW, IMPROVED WHITE. KCSHS member Louis Marre (coauthor of Diesel Spotter's Guide Update) sends us the following astute observations on the current state of KCS color schemes: "...they are painting at a fairly steady rate, and in the current variant of the white scheme. The sharp-eyed will note that the color is changed slightly, and the painting method is much altered: now the acrylic 'pearl gray' is applied, then the red stencils, and then a clear overcoat is added, making washing much more effective. An additional carwash-type facility has been added...in Shreveport, and units are being hand washed on a regular basis at Neosho and Heavener as well. All this means that the white scheme should hold up better and look better while on the road if this whole program is followed." We have independent reports that GP38-2 4006 was painted in the experimental dark gray solely to exhaust the existing supply of the expensive gray paint. The new acrylic painting process was apparently pioneered on gray SD40-2 652, and the employees who work with it and wash it regularly in Neosho are highly impressed with its durability. The new white should be as good.

Other reference sources: Extra 2200 South (April/May/June 1991 issue) and KCS Roster (2003) compiled by F.L. (Dutch) Schultz, jr. Additional data provided by Paul F. De Luca, Steve Gerbracht, David Hawkins, Zack Hilton, Bryan Jones, and David W. Read.

The "RRpicturesarchive.net" website was especially helpful here in identifying potential photographers and related images. We extend our thanks to this valuable resource. Thanks also to Michael Richmond who was very helpful in identifying and gaining permission to use many of the above photos.

New: 30 June 2017

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