Updated 5 February 2013
The Milwaukee Road (C.M.St.P.&P.RR) made their connection into Kansas City by way of a line paralleling the Wabash RR along the North bluffs of the Missouri River. Right before it crossed the river, the line climbed the bluffs at a steep grade and made a 90 degree turn onto the Milwaukee bridge over the Missouri River. Suburban Junction was on the south side of the bridge. This is where the Milwaukee made connection with the Kansas City Southern Belt Line to Grand Central Terminal at 2nd & Wyandotte streets near downtown KC. The line went across the KCS and Missouri Pacific tracks and into Coburg Yard, nestled between the bluffs and Armco Steel near the Big Blue River. Coburg Yard featured an engine terminal and a large grain elevator (ADM). Getting into Coburg Yard from Suburban Jct. was inconveninent, since the line crossed the KCS and Missouri Pacific at grade. This made for some bad tie-ups in the East Bottoms. Helpers were required to get trains up the 2% grade on the bridge, and around the 90 degree curve.
Kansas City Rail Map (caution: very large image file)
Later in the Milwaukee's history, the connection via the bridge was abandoned and a new connection into the Kansas City Southern (KCS RR) East Yard near Front Street was made by a joint venture between the Milwaukee Road and the Rock Island Railroad (C.R.I.&P.RR), over the Harry S. Truman Drawbridge.
This new connection meant less delays for Milwaukee and Rock Island trains into Kansas City. Milwaukee trains, loaded with goods bound for destinations south and west now arrived in the KCS East Yard and were switched out for delivery. A 'Joint Agency' was established between the Milwaukee Road and the KCS. The Milwaukee would share the engine facilities with the KCS.
The East Yard was expanded by the Milwaukee Road. The original line and bridge was converted to car traffic and continues today as the Chouteau Bridge and Trafficway.
Rock Island trains 'ran through' Freight Line Junction and West Wye Tower on the KCS South Main track, past the KCS East Yard and Knoche Yard, thence onto the Missouri Pacific trackage at Troost Ave (Broadway Tower) and on to the KCT trackage at Liberty Street until arriving at the Rock Island Yard in Armourdale (Kansas City, Kansas), in the West bottoms.
Rock Island, Milwaukee Road and KCS departing trains all received their Clearances and Orders from the operators at West Wye Tower, before proceeding East or South, respectively. Initially, there were a KCS and Milwaukee Operator, but as operations became streamlined, the position was consolidated into a single operator, a Milwaukee Road employee.
The operator controlled the double-track wye with a U.S.&S. Interlocking Machine.
Coburg Yard fell into disrepair, only being used to service a single grain elevator and as overflow storage of KCS rolling stock.
The Milwaukee Road was approached by industries in Coburg Yard, Sugar Creek. Centropolis and Indepenence to service their pickup and delivery requirements. Sugar Creek is home to a large Standard Oil Refinery, requiring pickup of petroleum products and delivery of crude oil. Sugar Creek also hosts the Gravel Company. Independence is home to the Lumber Yard and a Team Track. Centropolis is the location of Sykes Cold Storage, Freight House and General Mills. Coburg Yard hosts a small Grain Elevator and Standard Oil Company depot.
The Milwaukee Road agreed to service these customers as the other carriers did not want to become involved in industrial switching around their mainlines. The Milwaukee Road refurbished the small locomotive service facility in Coburg Yard.
Since Coburg Yard, with its 20 tracks in extremely dilapidated conditon would not be practical for a small operation, the Milwaukee decided to fully refurbish 3 of the original tracks for simple classification requirements.
Armed with a small, economical diesel fleet, a compact switching yard and service facility, the Milwaukee Road - Kansas City Sub began operations on September 9th, 2003. The shippers have been pleased with the quick turnaround provided by the Milwaukee Road and this has kept the business well in the black.
A typical day at the Milwaukee Road - Kansas City Sub begins with the Yardmaster checking for foreign line deliveries and switching out the Yard industries at Coburg (the grain elevator and Standard Oil Co). If there are cars for a foregin railroad, the Yardmaster will notify the Dispatcher, who will call the crew of the foreign railroad transfer run. See Take a trip with the KCS Transfer for details. The following railroads exchange cars with the Milwaukee Road at Coburg - KCS, Burlington Northern, Santa Fe and Frisco. There is also a Milwaukee Road manifest to exchange cars bound for destinations along the Milwaukee Road mainline to Chicago.
The Yardmaster will then make up cars for the Independence/Sugar Creek Turn and the Centropolis Turn as cars are available for delivery. The Indepdendence/Sugar Creek turn takes a GP-9 and departs with cars for delivery and will bring back some cars destined for exchange with the foreign railroads.
Transfer runs can happen anytime with the Milwaukee Road, Santa Fe, Frisco, Burlington Northern and KCS. The Milwaukee Road usually brings through one of their Chicago-bound manifests to drop off and pick up a block of cars at Coburg.
The Yardmaster is kept busy switching out the transfer cars into blocks bound for Independence, Sugar Creek and Centropolis. Any cars bound for the Coburg Industries are handled by the yard crew.
Later in the day, a string of cars is ready to be delivered to Centropolis and a GP30 on loan from the KCS is ready to answer the call. The Centropolis turn will deliver and pickup from General Mills, Freight Station and Sykes Cold Storage.
By this time, the Independence/Sugar Creek turn is coming back into Coburg with a couple of cars ready for transfer. These will be switched into a single block and put onto the foreign transfer trains when they run.
After the switching is complete, the Centropolis Turn has arrived back at Coburg with some more cars for transfer. The Yardmaster may call for another transfer train.