My Present Past
A genealogical experience
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Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
By the close of 1869, the road had been constructed a total of 28 miles. By August, 1870, it had been extended
to Emporia, thirty-four miles farther. On August 8th, 1870 the citizens of Marion County, just west of Lyons,
held a large meeting at Marion Center, their county seat, where it was resolved that a railroad mass meeting at
Marion Center, their county seat, where it was resolved that a railroad from the Missouri River to Wichita was
"one of the most feasible and important of modern enterprises"; and that the immense cattle trade waiting
now to pass over such a road would certainly make it a paying line. The number of cattle now in this vicinity was
double that of any previous years and the superior grazing of Marion County was bound to increase the herds
each and every year.  

It has long been the practice to bring the rough ranch cattle from the southwest plains, notably from Texas into  East Central
Kansas and there fatten them on the rich pastures that abound in the Cottonwood and Neosho Valleys. Many farmers in the
Mississippi Valley are now (1920) buying this class of livestock and "fitting" it for market.

It was further resolved that since they were on the direct line of the new route, the people of Marion County
stood ready to do all reasonably within their power to aid in the speedy completion of the road, and to that end
they offered $150,000 in county bonds to the first railroad to build through their county seat.

It was customary for Kansas Counties to vote bonds to assist in the construction of this and other railroads. In the case of the
Santa Fe the usual sum voted by a county was $150,000. The Company in turn gave the county full paid stock for their bonds.
Likewise many townships  and municipalities voted similar aid. Definite figures as to the amount of help the Santa Fe received
from these sources are not available, but it was considerable. The State of Kansas never became involved, as it is forbidden by its
constitution to become a party to enterprise for internal improvement. A history of these local bond grants would make
interesting reading. Topeka State Record August 17, 1870

During 1871 the road was built from Emporia to Newton, a distance of about 75 miles. Newton which now is a
well known division point, was reached in July. Traffic on the line developed with surprising rapidity. The cash
receipts at the Emporia station for December, 1870, was about $36,000. The gross earnings for the company
for the first five months after the road was built to Emporia totaled $168,721, with running expenses less
than 50 per cent. So lively did business become that it was necessary to purchase one hundred new stock cars
to take care of the traffic.
Construction was halted at Newton, Kansas for several months, where considerable traffic was developed,
since numerous herds of cattle were steadily arriving from northern Texas to be shipped east over the new
road. But while business was good, there was cause for anxiety. It will be remembered that the Congressional
land grant
(S435) of March 03, 1863, has stipulated that the must line be built across Kansas within ten years.
Less that two years of this allotted time remained and of the 469 miles to be built from Atchison to the
Colorado boundary only 137 miles had yet been completed. The government surveyors had not yet ascertained
the precise location of the Kansas - Colorado boundary and it was not known how far to build. But further and of
far more serious importance, times were not good, money rates were high and getting higher. It would take
$5,000,000 to complete the three hundred and thirty odd miles of road that must be built in record time to
save the all-important land grant. There was some talk of requesting Congress to extend the time limit two
years until the company should better be able to meet these unprecedented problems. But an exciting
presidential contest was on and since both business and political conditions were uncertain the directors
decided it unwise to risk further delay and voted to build the "whole line" at once. The necessary funds were
raised, construction was begun and within a year the work was done
The long delayed 50-mile line from Topeka to Atchison was built early in 1872, with the first train passing over
this division on May 16th, 1872. This outlet was valuable as it gave the road terminal connections with a number
of important lines, such as the
Hannibal & St. Joseph, Rock Island, Chicago Burlington & Quincy and the
Missouri Pacific. A good eastern outlet was thus secured, the Santa Fe was no longer forced to depend solely
upon the Kansas Pacific and could now route its own shipments directly to the trans-Missouri River railroads.
In the early spring of the same year  the Newton and Southwestern, the first Santa Fe branch, was built from
Newton to Wichita, Kansas, some 27 miles. This road which was built nominally by private parties friendly to
the Santa Fe, was speedily acquired by that company. General Manager, T. J. Peter, realizing that Wichita then
a village, might some day become a city of importance and that this branch would soon open a good traffic,
strongly urged the directors  to take the initiative in building it. Chiefly because of unfavorable business
conditions the Board of Directors declined. Whereupon Mr. Peter raised the money and built the road on his own
responsibility. The directors, now convinced that the branch was valuable, proceeded to buy it from Thomas J.
Peter, who charged a snug profit for his trouble.
There now remained about 285 miles to be constructed from Newton west to the State line. This route for
much of the distance followed the Santa Fe trail along the Valley of the Arkansas, it led through wild and
uninhabited prairies that included wild Indians. Work started from Newton on May 01, 1872, as the line had
been laid out by Engineer
Albert A. Robinson, assisted by James D. Burr. Because of the level of the country
grading was comparatively easy. Materials and supplies were brought over the line as needed and fast from the
Missouri river as the line was extended. The track laying and erection of bridges were under the direction of
James Criley, a profane but exceedingly proficient Irishman, who drove the construction hard and fast.

The road was completed to Hutchinson, 33 miles, on June 17th, 1872, to Great Bend, 51 miles, on August 5th;
to Larned, 23 miles, on August 12th; to Dodge City, 60 miles and beyond, on September 11th; and to the State
line, which the government engineers were tardy in locating, on December 28th, 1872, when cars were run over
the entire route from Missouri to Colorado. The land grant was saved with over two months to spare.

By the close of 1872 the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe railroad had been built across Kansas with a main line
stem of 469 miles from Atchison to Topeka, south to Emporia, southwest through Florence and Newton, around
the big bend of the Arkansas through Great Bend, Larned, Dodge City and then due west along the valley of the
Arkansas to Colorado. There was also a branch, 28 miles in length from Newton to Wichita and with the advance
of the charter line into Colorado in early 1873, the Santa Fe could now proudly state in their report issued
March 31st, 1873, that they had 497 miles of railroad in full operation.
The road for the most part was thoroughly built and well equipped. It was laid with iron rails, 56 pounds to the
yard. The ties were white oak, 2600 to the mile. The embankments were wide; the culverts, bridges,
abutments, waterways and cattle guards were nearly all built of stone. Neat and capacious depots of the most
modern type were built at all the important stations. Engine houses of stone and brick were constructed and
similar structures of wood and numerous water stations had been erected at various points along the line.
There were fourteen "commodious section houses" and fifteen enclosed yards for the shipping of livestock.
Transportation was utilized with 38 locomotives, 20 passenger cars, 2 sleeping cars, 755 freight cars and 255
miscellaneous cars.  Gross earnings for the year ending March 31, 1873 were $1,172,013, with expenses of
$748,210, leaving a net balance of $423,803. Perhaps Col. Holliday's notions as to the industrial possibilities of
the Kansas prairie were not so foolish after all.
Such were the beginnings of the Santa Fe. It had crossed the state of Kansas and entered Colorado when
further expansion was temporarily cut short by the financial panic of 1873. Henceforth, for a time, the
company was to pursue a very conservative policy, developing its property, colonizing its lands and extending its
lines slowly with caution. With the coming of a great executive, four years later, the Santa Fe was quickly to
emerge  from these sound beginnings into a great railroad.
Poors' 1874-75
Page 640
Poors' 1874-75
Page 641
Poors' 1874-75
Page 642
Left:
1875 Cram's
Railroad Map of Kansas




Right: 1876 A.T &.S.F
Route Guide