The Sedalia Katy Depot

Sedalia Missouri's  Visitor Center and Year-Round Historic Railroad Destination

Railroaders Stories

Jack Herndon and His Father Take a Trip on the Katy

“My father was Jack Herndon. Some people called him Jack and some people called him Dennis. He came from Jamestown to Sedalia to work on the railroad around 1910. It was a big, booming city then and he went to work for the Missouri Pacific and they hired him as a painter. At the Missouri Pacific shop building, there were windows way up high for the light to filter in and they put him up there painting those windows. He didn’t care much for that, it was too high and so forth. So he found out they were also hiring at the Katy, so he went to the Katy Railroad and he was hired as an apprentice blacksmith. He served four years as an apprentice. There were four apprentices and four blacksmiths. The apprentices got half pay. The trouble was when he finished his apprenticeship there was no room for a blacksmith at full pay so he had to find something else. They wanted to send my father to Dennison, Texas, but all my mother’s folks lived here and she wouldn’t go. So he stayed here and they put him in as a carman. He worked on the cars at the railroad shops, which were out near the fairgrounds. We lived over near where Centennial Park is now and he would walk to work every day and he would work 10 hours a day and walk home again. He was a big man; I’d say he weighed almost 275 pounds. He would have a big breakfast. Mom would get up and cook him a half dozen eggs and a half-pound of bacon and a pie. He would eat the bacon and eggs and half the pie, and Mother would put the other half in his lunch bucket, along with sandwiches and whatever we had available. He was supposed to be the strongest man on the railroad, so if they had a difficult or heavy job, they would call him.

Then the Depression came along and things were pretty rough. When I was around 10, my dad wanted to take me to St. Louis to see Forest Park. Mom wasn’t too much of a traveler, and so my dad and I went. We had $1.27. It was the heart of the Depression.

He had a pass on the railroad (so he and his family rode for free). We walked from home to the depot, and the train left at midnight. We got on the train, and we took a paper sack of food, whatever we thought we could eat. We got in St. Louis about six o’clock, I believe. We caught a streetcar pit to Forest Park, and I think we spent 30 cents for that, for there and back, and we had an ice cream cone. Anyway, we made the trip and spent the day. We got back at six o’clock in the morning of the next day. And the whole think was, we made the trip and we came back with 70 cents change. He retired from the Katy shops."

From the Notebook of W.A. McVey

The Tebo & Neosho Railroad- Sedalia Subdivision

“…Meeting in Sedalia in early March, 1870, the directors ordered the work started to the west and into Parsons, Kansas. At Greenridge (Parkersburg then) heavy snow stopped them for awhile. On July 18, 1870 the first passenger train made the trip with stops, Sedalia, Keatley’s, Parkersburg, Windsor, Calhoun, Lewis, Clinton and on to Parsons. We must understand that much of the track was laid on bare ground and the speed across the bridges limited to ten miles per hour….”                          
W.A. McVey, Sedalia

Rosalie Knight Remembers Her Father and the Katy Band

“Wayne B. Mountjoy was my father. He worked in the tool department and gave out tools to people at the Katy Shops. He organized the Katy Band around 1925. He played all the instruments. The E-flat alto horn was his favorite instrument. He played at all the picnics at Katy Park and he would go to Parsons for combined concerts with the other Katy bands. He just loved music. We lived in Smithton and the neighbors would complain about him playing the Victrola all night. We moved into town (Sedalia) and lived downstairs in a house on 24th and Ohio. The man upstairs made bootleg whiskey and so we moved to this house on Park. My father would sit up and play the trombone all night. He sold instruments from the house. His business was called Mountjoy Music. He had railroad passes and I remember when I was ten years old we went to California all the time. It would take a couple of days for us to get there.

“My Mother, Leota, was a member of the Katy women’s rifle association. I have a picture of her competing in a pistol shooting contest in 1929. My father retired from the Katy when the railroad disbanded and he went into business building houses. He liked to grow strawberries and he had all of his relatives pick them, so he could sell them. He grew one strawberry that had a nine-inch circumference and they put his picture in the paper. After that, they called him the Strawberry King.”


Rosalee KnightSedalia