By Vance Perkins
DeQuincy and KCS have been intertwined since both began. Mr. Arthur E. Stilwell had a vision to build a railroad from Kansas City, Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico. He began making his dream happen in the 1890s. He chartered a railroad and named it the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf. He constructed new tracks and purchased existing rail companies as he headed south. The KCP&G reached what is now known as DeQuincy in 1897. A new city on the shores of Sabine Lake in East Texas had been built to be the end of the line. It was named in his honor, Port Arthur.
Tracks from Port Arthur and tracks from DeQuincy met near what is known today as Mauriceville, Texas. The golden spike was driven on Sept. 11, 1897. Soon after, Mr. Stilwell and E. DeQuincy (an investor in Stilwell’s railroad, whom DeQuincy is named after), were passengers on a train from Kansas City to Port Arthur and back to Kansas City. The fulfillment of his dream ushered in the expansion of KCP&G.
Mr. Stilwell was soon named the president and CEO of the very successful company. But in 1900, he was removed from the position and the company was reorganized and became Kansas City Southern. KCS has been a powerhouse in the rail industry since. But as of Friday, Apr. 14, 2023, it is no more. it has been swallowed up in a merger with a Canadian rail company. The new company will be known as CPKC.
The first “depot” in DeQuincy was a box car set beside the rails. The KCP&G employees worked from this boxcar until a wooden depot was built in the early 1900s. In 1920, KCS began building new and improved depots. They were of the Spanish Mission Revival style. The depot in DeQuincy was constructed in 1923. It was occupied the week after Christmas in 1923.
The depot served KCS until 1974. In 1968, the last passenger train left DeQuincy from the depot. By 1972, there was only one employee working in the building. Rumors of its demolition were rampant. Mrs. Linda Green rallied the troops. She was joined by the ladies from local women’s clubs. They were successful in getting local politicians and rail company executives together. KCS deeded the depot to the City of DeQuincy in 1974. They made plans to restore and reopen the depot as The DeQuincy Railroad Museum by the Bi-Centennial Celebration of The United States of America on July 4, 1976. They were successful. The grand opening and dedication of The DeQuincy Railroad Museum took place on July 2, 1976.
KCS has employed many DeQuincy residents through the years. They have brought joy to many when they sent the Christmas Train to DeQuincy. There are many questions and concerns about future policies and the path forward for the new CPKC. We wish them the best and continued success for the company and its employees.