Southern Belle (KCS)

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For other meanings of Southern Belle, see Southern Belle (disambiguation).
Powered by an EMD E3 locomotive, Kansas City Southern Railway train No. 1, the Southern Belle, passes through Kansas City, Missouri on August 17, 1940.
"Drumhead" logos such as these often adorned the ends of observation cars on the Southern Belle.

The Southern Belle was a named passenger train service offered by Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) from the 1940s through the 1960s, running between Kansas City, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The service was inaugurated on September 2, 1940. To promote the new train, KCS held a beauty contest to find "Miss Southern Belle," a young woman whose image would be used in advertising materials systemwide. Local competitions were held before the train's launch in all of the cities that the KCS served. The ultimate winner of the competition, Margaret Landry Moore, was the winner of the local competition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was selected as "Miss Southern Belle" at the final competition in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 24 1940.

The last run of the Southern Belle was on November 2, 1969.

Equipment used

Just before inauguration, Pullman-Standard delivered three new lightweight passenger car sets to the KCS for use on the Southern Belle. Each set consisted of a combination baggage-RPO-dormitory (car numbers 64, 65 and 66), a 74-seat coach chair car (cars 234, Pittsburg; 235, Joplin; and 236, Texarkana), and a dining-observation car (car numbers 54, Kansas City; 55, Shreveport; and 56, New Orleans).

The KCS rebuilt five heavyweight Pullman sleepers for use on the Southern Belle, making them look like their lightweight counterparts and increasing the number of double bedrooms in each. Cars Siloam Springs (formerly McBurney) and Sulphur Springs (formerly McLarty) were rebuilt in time for the train's inauguration. Initially, Pullman service was only offered between New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1941, car Barksdale (formerly McAllisterville) was added to the train's operation when Pullman service was extended from Shreveport to Kansas City. The first two rebuilt cars were joined a few months later by rebuilt cars State Capital (formerly McElheran) and Mena (formerly McKullo) on the southern leg of the train's schedule.

After World War II, the train was re-equipped with some new cars built in 1948 by American Car and Foundry (ACF), and by rebuilding some of the original Pullman-Standard cars. Two of the diner-observation cars were rebuilt into tavern-observation cars; car 54, Kansas City (renamed to Good Cheer), and 55, Shreveport (renamed Hospitality), remained in Southern Belle service. The new cars built by ACF equipped two new consists. Each of the new consists included:

  • one combination baggage-RPO-dormitory (car #67 and #68)
  • one 62-seat coach chair car (car #239, Kansas City; and #240, Texarkana)
  • two 60-seat coach chair cars (car #241, Shreveport; #242, Alexandria; #243, Baton Rouge; and #244, New Orleans)
  • one 36-seat diner (car #57, Old Plantation; and #58, Mountain Home)
  • four 14-roomette, 4-double bedroom sleepers (cars Arthur Stilwell, Colonel Fordyce, Harvey Couch, Job Edson, Leonor Loree, Stuart Knott, William Buchanan and William Edenborn)

The previously-mentioned tavern-observation cars rounded out the ends of the two consists. Between 1962 and 1964, these cars were renumbered and the car names were dropped. The train's consists remained relatively unchanged between 1948 and the train's discontinuance in 1969.