My Present Past
A genealogical experience
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Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
As a rapidly growing commercial city, Kansas City had  become the terminus of practically all the important
railroads in that section and by the early 1870's it promised eventually to rival St. Louis as a railroad and
commercial center. Furthermore, in 1875, Kansas City had overshadowed Atchison, then the Santa Fe's
Missouri River terminus and was fast becoming the greatest cattle and grain market in the Southwest, which
supremacy has long been established (1920). Since grain and cattle then compromised the bulk of the Santa
Fe's eastbound traffic and since Kansas City was only sixty seven miles east of Topeka, it was soon found
necessary to secure direct terminal facilities with this rising metropolis. Getting into Kansas City was of two
fold importance to the Company. By providing superior market facilities near at hand for livestock and grain,
the production of these staples along the line of the Santa Fe would be stimulated, which would encourage land
sales and settlement; and which finally would add to the general prosperity of the road. Again, because of the
Eastern roads now focused at Kansas City, much westbound traffic, both freight and passenger, would be
gained there. Access to Kansas City was secured on October 01, 1875, when the Santa Fe Company leased the
Kansas City Topeka and Western, a local road that had already been constructed between Topeka and Kansas
City. Terminal facilities were secured by a joint arrangement with the Kansas City and St. Joseph, and the
Burlington roads, thus making a strategic and extremely valuable extension that was to be the eastern
terminus of the Santa Fe for more than ten years.
Extension westward had gone on steadily; the line was completed to Pueblo and placed into regular operation on
March 01, 1876. Thus a main line had been gained with two terminals on the Missouri river and extending
westward to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Because of adverse business conditions in 1873-1874, and the
natural conservation of the Boston financiers who were directing the policies of the Company, the road had been
developed slowly and cautiously. A great flood in southeastern Colorado in 1875 had washed out considerable
portions of the new line, making its construction unusually expensive. Thus it was decided to retrench and for
the next two years, aside from routine operation, little was done except to improve the physical condition of
the railroad property.
The years 1875-1876, aside from the extension already described, were largely concerned with outlays for
improvement of tracks and roadbed and right-of-way, for the erection of station buildings and fences and the
increase and the upgrade of locomotives and rolling stock. During the first half of 1877 the line again suffered
serious damage from high water due to abnormal rains and in repairing these losses inflicted upon
embankments, cuts, bridges and roadbeds in general, the officials were led to make renewed efforts and
consequently large expenditures to improve the line still more. Old iron rails were replaced with steel,
thousands of new ties were laid, a considerable amount of track was ballasted with crushed rock and by the
close of the year in 1877, the line was declared to be in as good repair as at any previous time. A total f more
than $340,000, a large sum for a new and struggling road, had been spent for that purpose.
The extensions to Pueblo and Kansas City, which had been made with so much caution, had at once proved
successful, for they increased the traffic of the Company to a profitable extent. Net earnings for 1876 were
nearly $1,2000,000, exceeding the estimate for that year by more than $175,000. The net earnings for 1875
had been only a little over $750,000. For 1877 they rose, in spite of flood losses, to $1,219,000. While land
sales and the development of company lands had perhaps been chiefly responsible for this prosperity, the
extension of the line to Kansas City and Pueblo had contributed much to net earnings. In 1875 it was announced
that 6,000 tourists were visiting the Colorado Rockies annually and the increase of traffic due to the opening
of Southern Colorado was all that could be expected. In other words, the progress of the road had proved
conclusively  that expansion brought more traffic and that to grow meant to prosper. The careful management
of the road evidently were not insensible of this situation, for they projected a line from Florence, Kansas,
down the Walnut Valley to the south border of the state and this road was built and put into operation as far as
El Dorado, 31 miles, about July of 1877. In building the
Florence El Dorado and Walnut Valley Railroad, the
directors were probably impelled more by the demands of the settlers who were buying lands in this vicinity
than from a desire to expand. Apparently there was no desire on the part of the capitalists who now controlled
the policies of the road to make the Santa Fe a great railroad; it appears from a careful study of the
Company's reports that down to 1877 the chief purpose was to develop a first class railroad between the
Missouri and the Rockies; to exploit thoroughly the lands and other natural resources touched by the lines thus
constructed and to round out an efficient and profitable transportation property whose interests would be
purely local. As early as 1874, the A. T. & S. F. Directors were willing to rely upon the Denver Rio Grande, a
narrow gauge railroad, for its connections in Colorado and southward into New Mexico and Old Mexico. But the
Denver Rio Grande was an aggressive company and should it ever gain prior control of certain strategic
mountain passes over which any railway seeking to penetrate the Rockies in this region must go, the Santa Fe
might eventually be blocked and forever remain a local railroad some few hundred miles in extent. If the Santa
Fe ever were to achieve greatness a master hand was now needed in the absolute direction of its affairs.
1876 Map and Route Guide for the
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.
Near the end of 1877 the Board of Directors elected Mr. W. B. Strong, Esq.,
of Chicago, Vice President and General Manager of the road. He brings to your
road rare abilities and large experience which cannot fail to be of great
benefit to the Company. In accordance with the design of the original
projectors of your road the Directors have matured a plan to extend your line
into New Mexico, to the vicinity of Santa Fe, in the year 1878 and they trust
this movement will be approved and supported by the stockholders of the road.

Santa Fe Directors Report 1877
1879 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 875
1879 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 876
1879 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 877
1879 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 878
1878 Advertisement Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe
A natural leader and a hard fighter, Mr. Strong found chances enough to
exercise his talents in the service  of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe.
Almost immediately he plunged into the work of extending the road into
Colorado and New Mexico. His first important act was to go to Santa Fe,
New Mexico, at the request of
President Nickerson, to secure territorial
legislation specially authorizing the construction of the Atchison Topeka &
Santa Fe main line south from La Junta, Colorado and through New Mexico,
with a possible view some day of extending the line still farther westward,
perhaps to the Pacific Coast.
Governor Pitkin of Colorado, Colonel H. C. Nutt, who later
became the president of the
Atlantic & Pacific Railroad,
Miguel Otero, a prominent New Mexican and W. B. Strong
went to New Mexico to secure private legislation for the
railroad. On February 02, 1878 the Territory of New Mexico
passed a general railroad law that severely limited the
formation of any new railroad companies in the Territory of
New Mexico by requiring a ten percent payment of estimated
costs of the railroad, to be paid into a corporate treasury and
also, taxation of the railroad for longer than twelve years.
This legislation would certainly prohibit the Santa Fe from
building into New Mexico. The four Santa Fe agents went to
work lobbying the New Mexico Legislature and less than two
weeks later had secured favorable legislation that would help
the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad build their line
through the New Mexico Territory.