My Present Past
A genealogical experience
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Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
To properly understand the nature of the ride from Topeka to Pueblo, one must bear in mind that the country
between the Missouri river and the base of the Rocky Mountains is a rolling champaign six hundred miles wide,
which rises from an elevation of 560 feet above the sea at Kansas City, to five thousand three hundred feet at
the Mountains. The A. T. & S. F. Railroad ascends this magnificent declivity at the average rate of twelve feet
to the mile westward. For two hundred miles the track passes through what is unquestionably the richest, as
well as the most beautiful and healthy bottom and meadow land in the world.  The Cottonwood and Arkansas
Valleys furnish almost unbroken groves of cottonwood, walnut, oak, pecan, hackleberry, box elder, soft maple,
mulberry, honey locust, wild plum, crab and buckeye timber.
The twenty two miles of road bed in Shawnee County intersect as fine a pastoral picture as the oldest
agricultural district can show. The road itself is remarkably well built, of fifty six pound splice jointed iron, oak
ties cut in state; Howe truss bridges, of which there are sixty between Atchison, Kansas and Granada,
Colorado, combined with stone culverts and rock ballast with continuous side ditching.

The Iron Trail  Andrew Carpenter Wheeler 1876
Left and Below:

1876 Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
Advertisement for Colorado from Kansas City
1876 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 835
1876 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 836
1876 Poors' Railroad Guide
Pg 837
On September 08, 1874, six hundred Mennonite colonists arrived in Topeka, Kansas and on the 23rd of that
same month they were followed by eleven hundred more. On the 14th of October they bought 100,00 acres of
land from the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Land Department. On January 02, 1875, two hundred more
immigrants arrived from Russia, going directly to Great Bend, settling on or near the main line.
In the year ending 1875, 400 Mennonite families, comprising of 1,900 people had settled in Kansas, bringing
with them $2,250,00 in gold. These people purchased 60,000 acres of Kansas land, practically, if not all, from
the Santa Fe Company in Marion, McPherson, Harvey and Reno counties.
In 1876  a fine agricultural exhibit composed of products from the new farms lying within the Company's land
grant was displayed at the Centennial Exposition. This exhibit, which was strikingly arranged, proved one the
features of the Exposition. It was viewed by thousands of persons and described in many newspapers, which
again gave the railroad and its land infinite advertising and stimulated land buying. Whereas land sales had
dropped to 75,415 acres in 1875, in 1876 they rose nearly 60% to 122,201 acres.
In 1877 the Land Commissioner reported that about 900,000 acres of the government lands alternating with
those of the Company had been taken up by actual settlers, thus locating over 8,000 new families along the line.
During the Autumn of 1877, a total of 246,917 acres were sown to wheat in the nine leading counties of the
land grant along the Arkansas Valley; for the preceding year the wheat acreage was but 168,345 acres.
1876 Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Centennial Advertisement
As early as 1874 the directors of the A. T. & S. F. Railroad wisely purposed to build far into Colorado. There
were very good reasons for this decision. There were large deposits of coal that were highly superior to any in
Kansas at Trinidad, just west and south of Granada. This coal alone, it was believed, would furnish a large
eastbound tonnage. There was much timber in Colorado where it could be shipped into Kansas where lumber was
badly needed. The ranches in Colorado would ship a large and increasing volume of freight, in cattle, sheep, hides
and wool, over the new line. Colorado was already famed for its precious metals, which mining industry was
bound to develop fast with improved means of transportation. This meant a heavy traffic in ores, not to
mention a growing demand for machinery, chemicals and other mining supplies that would be shipped by rail from
cities east of the Missouri River. Also the scenery and climate of the Rocky Mountains were beginning to
attract tourists. With convenient railroad facilities, here was a chance to develop a profitable passenger
traffic. Finally Colorado, with her ranches, mines and tourists, must have the ordinary commodities of life,
foodstuffs, dry goods, furniture, hardware and other items which must be brought from distant markets. The
state was large and as yet reached by only one railroad from the east. For the Santa Fe, the gateway to the
interior of Colorado was Pueblo, where connection would be made with the
Denver Rio Grande, a narrow gauge
local road for Denver. A line across southwestern Colorado, following the Santa Fe Trail, to Trinidad would
approach the New Mexico boundary where much of the overland wagon traffic would be secured. The first
objective point in this direction, therefore, was Pueblo, one hundred and thirty three miles west of Granada.
1875 Map of Colorado
Expansion began both west and east in 1875. To build the road to Pueblo a new corporation, the Pueblo and
Arkansas Valley Railroad Company, was incorporated March 24, 1875, by a group of Boston capitalists who were
also the chief owners of the Santa Fe road. On October 01, 1875, the new corporation absorbed the Colorado
and New Mexico Company with all its charter privileges under which the preliminary Colorado extension had
been constructed. Then, on the same date, the
Pueblo and Arkansas Valley was leased unconditionally to the
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad for a term of thirty years, thus giving the Atchison Company an effective
corporate instrument with which to prosecute its building plans in Colorado. Construction having commenced
promptly, the road was completed and ready for operation to Las Animas, fifty miles beyond Granada, on
September 13, 1875.
Meanwhile a new and important terminal was being secured along the Missouri River. After the Civil War,
Kansas City, due to the enterprise of her citizens, had begun to outstrip her rival neighboring towns  of
Independence, Westport and St. Joseph, Missouri and Leavenworth and Atchison, Kansas.