The Frisco's Kansas City-Florida Special.

Frisco EMD E8 No. 2012 (the former "Flying Ebony") leading the Kansas City-Florida Special at Memphis, TN, November 8, 1967.

(Photo by Al Chione, courtesy Frisco Archives, used by permission)



The Kansas City–Florida Special was a pooled night train and the premier train of the Frisco Railroad and the Southern Railway. Operating from Kansas City, Missouri to Jacksonville, Florida, it was unique as being one of very few long distance passenger train to traverse the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, Missouri and north of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Additionally, it contrasted with trains of the Illinois Central Railroad and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad which offered Great Lakes Mid-West to Florida service, and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Seaboard Coast Line Railroad which offered New York to Florida service. A running advertisement read, "Only the Kansas City–Florida Special offers through train service between Kansas City and the East Coast of Florida (with) convenient one-change connections at Kansas City and Pacific Coast points. This popular through train has modern roomette and bedroom sleeping cars between Kansas City and Miami - section, double bedroom and compartment sleeping cars and luxury reclining-seat coaches between Kansas City, Birmingham, Atlanta, and Jacksonville - lounge and dining car facilities." Generally, the service to Miami required a transfer in Jacksonville.


Postcard depiction of the lounge car of Frisco Railroad's Kansas City-Florida Special. Note the lounge car has a working fireplace, c. 1930s. Click to enlarge.

(Frisco Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The train was inaugurated on November 26, 1911. Sleeping cars were dropped from the train by the train's last year of operation and service was terminated in 1965. The Frisco's Sunnyland ran generally parallel with this route as a local train, first starting from St. Louis, then joining Frisco's eastern mainline at Memphis to Birmingham. By the mid-1940s, the Sunnyland route began in Kansas City instead, with a sleeper partnership with the Southern Railway continuing beyond Birmingham to Atlanta. The Sunnyland had the eastern variant of second section veering south from Amory to Pensacola. The Sunnyland had the western variant, the Sunnyland-Will Rogers: a section originating in Oklahoma City and connecting with the Sunnyland in Springfield, Missouri.

In final years, the Kansas City-Florida Special and the Sunnyland lost their sleepers. Also, the Sunnyland was reduced to a strictly Kansas City - Birmingham route.


A Frisco Ink Blotter.

(St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, W. Lenheim collection)


Brief successor train

The Kansas City-Florida Special and the Sunnyland were succeeded from 1965 to 1967 by the Frisco's Southland, running from Kansas City to Birmingham, with a lounge buffet car operating between Kansas City and Memphis. This last train had its final run on December 9, 1967. With the termination of the Southland came the end of the Frisco's passenger train operations.


The day train between Kansas City and Memphis, then overnight between Memphis and Birmingham.

The Kansas City-Florida Special ran on a flip of the Sunnyland's schedule. In this particular photo, Frisco 807 with the southbound Sunnyland meets 808, the northbound Sunnyland, with Roger Puta shooting in the cab, at the shops south of Cape Girardeau, MO on April 16, 1963. Click to enlarge.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard from U.S.A., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Major station stops

Kansas City
Springfield, Missouri
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Tupelo, Mississippi


Kansas City–Florida Overview

Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Southeastern United States
First service: November 26, 1911
Last service: 1965
Former operators: Frisco Railroad, Southern Railway
Route Termini: Kansas City, Missouri / Jacksonville, Florida (1959)
Distance traveled: 1,229.5 miles (1,978.7 km) (1959)
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 105 (eastbound), 106 (westbound)
On-board services
Seating arrangements: Reclining seat coaches
Sleeping arrangements: Sections, roomettes, double bedrooms, and a compartment (1959)
Catering facilities: Dining car