SLSF E8A 2017 with Train 108, The Sunnyland, at Birmingham Alabama Union Station on April 15, 1963.

The train was the overnight mail and express train to Memphis and onto Kansas City, Missouri. EMD E8

No. 2017 was built in May of 1950, and named “Pensive”, the 1944 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Winner.

(Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Frisco herald.


The Sunnyland was an overnight mail and express passenger train operated by the St. Louis-San Francisco (FRISCO) Railway between Kansas City, Memphis, and Birmingham.

The train made its initial run on October 7, 1925, providing through Pullman sleeper service between Kansas City and St. Petersburg and between Kansas City and Tampa. Also included was a Kansas City to New Orleans sleeper which went via Memphis on the Illinois Central Railroad.

Between Kansas City and Atlanta, through chair cars were utilized, and a famous Frisco diner was operated between Kansas City and Birmingham. Over the next 30-plus years numerous changes to the Sunnyland's connecting roads, equipment, schedule, routing, and destinations came into play.


The Sunnyland was re-configured on April 21, 1940. The operations between Kansas City and Springfield were eliminated and replaced with local trains No 103 and No 104, which operated between Springfield, MO and Ft. Scott, KS. At Ft. Scott, train No 103 connected with train No 111 and train No 104 connected with No 118.

The Springfield-Memphis leg of the Sunnyland and the Memphis-Birmingham leg were now almost separate trains due to extremely long layovers in Memphis.

Frisco discontinued trains No 101 and No 102, the Springfield-Memphis passenger local, and trains No 103 and No 104, the Springfield-Ft Scott passenger local, on September 30, 1956. The Sunnyland, trains No 107 and No 108, returned to Kansas City on October 1, 1956. Sadly, the new train was the Sunnyland in name only.


Origins and Birmingham Connection

The St Louis–San Francisco Railway (also known as the Frisco Lines or SLSF) was a national railroad that offered service to Birmingham on its Kansas City–Memphis–Birmingham line that crossed with its St Louis–Tulsa–Oklahoma City line at Springfield, Missouri. The company was incorporated in 1876 from the Missouri Division and Central Division of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. It acquired the assets of the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham Railroad on September 1, 1928.

Frisco acquired the assets of the Muscle Shoals, Birmingham and Pensacola Railroad in 1947, and purchased the Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad on December 28, 1948. That line was operated as a separate division until it was merged into the St Louis–San Francisco line in 1971. The company negotiated to purchase the Central of Georgia Railway in 1956, but the Interstate Commerce Commission objected, and that line was eventually sold to the Southern Railway in 1961. In 1967 the St Louis–San Francisco Railway acquired assets from the liquidation of the Birmingham Belt Railroad.

Southland and Sunnyland

The railway provided passenger service on its Kansas City–Memphis–Birmingham line on the Southland and Sunnyland passenger trains. St Louis–San Francisco Engine No. 4018 which formerly hauled freight between Birmingham and Bessemer was preserved and displayed at the Alabama State Fairgrounds from 1952 to 2009. It is currently displayed facing 32nd Street North on the grounds of the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.

BNSF Railway

The St Louis–San Francisco Railway was acquired by the Burlington Northern Railroad on November 21, 1980. In 1996 the Burlington Northern merged with the Santa Fe, creating the BNSF Railway. BNSF continues to operate freight trains on the Kansas City–Memphis–Birmingham line.



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