Out of Gould's efforts and despite being disconnected from some links in his system, the Missouri Pacific ultimately flourished in the first half of the 20th century. Through consolidation, leases and further construction, the "Route of the Eagles" served a 12,000-square mile area of the western and southwestern United States, extending from Illinois and Missouri to Texas, Colorado and even Mexico.
In 1980, the Missouri Pacific was finally merged into what has today become one of the dominant railroads in the United States — the Union Pacific. The old route from St. Louis to Kansas City, with some alterations, continues to be utilized by the UP. Here at the Museum of Transportation, we are fortunate to have one of the two original Barretts Tunnels and a portion of the former track to Barrett Station. The land was donated by the Missouri Pacific in the 1950s. Often, as one walks the grounds of the museum, a UP train will make its way behind the property, a reminder that the founders of the Pacific Railroad, despite it all, have reached their goal: the tracks are part of a railroad network that connects St. Louis to the west coast.
Many historians have argued that for St. Louis, the failure to establish a competitive railroad in the 19th century led to Chicago's economic dominance of the Midwest. A combination of setbacks prevented the Pacific Railroad from quickly meeting up to its developers' aspirations. Nevertheless, the Pacific Railroad's story provides a window into railroad development in the United States and an extreme portrait of the difficulties posed in their early construction. the line's continued use suggests that the blood, sweat and tears shed in dealing with these difficulties were not all in vain.