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Railroads of Kansas - Page 4

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The petition authorized by the resolution was prepared by Benjamin F. Stringfellow and forwarded to Congress. It no doubt wielded some influence on the national legislation which followed during the next few years. In February succeeding the railroad convention, the Kansas State Government was established, and the first state legislature passed an act giving to all railroad companies whose charters had not been declared forfeited the legal right "to hold by grant or otherwise any personal or real estate," and the companies were also given two years in which to begin work upon the roads as defined in their respective charters. This legislation was intended to act as a stimulus to railroad construction, but soon after the law was passed the Civil War began and the preservation of the Union became the all-absorbing question. Even while the war was in progress, however, Congress passed the acts of July 1, 1862, March 3, 1863, and July 1 and 2, 1864, granting large tracts of lands in the West to railroad companies, and authorizing bond issues to aid in building the roads.

 

Chanute, Kansas Harvey House Depot

Harvey House Restaurants could once be found all along the Atchison,Topeka and Santa Fe Railway through Kansas and on into  the Southwest. These were developed by Leavenworth entrepreneur, Fred Harvey. This continues to stand in Chanute, Kansas, now serving as a library. This image available for photographic prints and

downloads HERE.

 

In February, 1859, the city of St. Joseph celebrated the completion of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, which was the first line to reach the Kansas border. Just a year later, ground was broken at Wyandotte for the Kansas Central Railroad. Mention has already been made of the first track laid in Kansas, which was on the Elwood & Marysville road on March 20, 1860. Within a month several miles of track were laid and on April 23rd the old locomotive "Albany" arrived. This engine had been used in the construction of railroads all the way from the Atlantic seaboard to the Missouri River as the "Star of Empire" pursued its westward course. On the 24th, a number of invited guests assembled to celebrate the opening of the first section of the great Pacific railway. Charles S. Gleed, in one of the Kansas Historical Collections, said: "The cars which followed the 'Albany' that day were all flat cars, well calculated to carry the festive party, composed about equally of men and barrels. The cars were decorated with green boughs to cover their native ugliness, and seats were constructed of planks set crosswise of the cars. The engine was gaudy with the colors of the rainbow and some that the rainbow never yet developed. The engineer was conscious of the importance of his task, and did his best to prove his engine as fast as the load she was pulling. The track was rough, of course, and crooked, but it held together, and the trip was duly accomplished."

M. Jeff Thompson, afterward an officer in the Confederate Army, was president of the company that thus opened the first railroad in the State of Kansas. During the war railroad building was practically at a stand still all over the country, but immediately after the restoration of peace it was taken up with renewed vigor. In July, 1866, Congress passed several acts granting large tracts of land, in alternate sections on either side of the line for a distance of 10 miles, to railroad companies. In his message to the legislature of 1867 Governor Crawford announced that there were then 300 miles of railroad in operation in the state, and that work on the eastern division of the Union Pacific was being prosecuted with energy and success. "The road," said he, "was completed from Wyandotte to Lawrence in 1864, a distance of 40 miles; from Lawrence to Topeka in 1865, a distance of 27 miles; and during the year 1866, from Topeka westward nearly 100 miles, and grading mostly completed for 50 or 60 miles further; also the branch road from Leavenworth to Lawrence, a distance of 33 miles, making for the year 1866 about 133 miles of road, or one-half mile for each working day."

 

He also stated that work was being pushed on the Central Branch from Atchison westward; that 15 miles of the St. Joseph & Denver had been completed; that the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston directors had transferred the franchise of that company to a new corporation that promised to complete the road to the southern boundary of the state within two years, and that the Union Pacific Company expected to complete 200 miles of the eastern division during the ensuing year. This expectation was evidently realized, as in his message to the legislature of 1869 the governor announced that the road was completed to within 35 miles of the western boundary of the state. In the same year the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston was completed to Ottawa, the Missouri River railroad was put in operation between Wyandotte and Leavenworth, and 90 miles of the Central Branch were finished.

 

 

 

Railroad Crossing in KansasBy the treaty of April 19, 1862, the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad Company was given the refusal of buying a certain portion of the Pottawatomie lands. When the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific was organized in 1863, the new company purchased the rights of the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western, with power to build a road through Kansas to a point 50 miles west of Denver. On May 31, 1868, the name of the Eastern Division was changed to the Kansas Pacific, and on Jan. 24, 1880, the Union Pacific, Kansas Pacific and Denver Pacific were consolidated into the present Union Pacific. According to the report of the Kansas Railroad Commission for 1910, the Union Pacific Company was reorganized on July 1, 1897, under an act of the Utah legislature of the preceding January, and operates 1,165 miles of road in Kansas.

 

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad had its beginning in the charter granted to the Atchison & Topeka Railroad Company by the territorial legislature in 1859. The Atchison & Topeka Company was organized on Feb. 11 of that year, and on Nov. 24, 1863, the name was changed to the A Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.

 

In 1864 Congress made a large grant of land for the benefit of the road, and counties through which it was to run voted bonds to aid in its construction. Work was commenced at Topeka in the fall of 1868 and the following year was finished to Burlingame, a distance of 27 miles. When the track was completed to Wakarusa, 13 miles from Topeka, an excursion was run to that place from Topeka to celebrate the event. Cyrus K. Holliday, the projector of the enterprise and first president of the company, in a speech on that excursion, predicted that one day the western terminus of the road would be at some point on the Pacific coast. It is said that when the prophecy was uttered, one incredulous individual, unable to control his mirth at the thought of that little crooked road becoming a great trans-continental thoroughfare, threw himself on the grass and exclaimed, "Oh, the old fool!" Yet the prediction has been verified. In 1869 was erected the first general office building of the company in Topeka. This building also served as passenger station and freight depot. In Jan., 1872, the division between Atchison and Topeka was graded, but the track was not laid until later, and in 1873 the main line of the road was completed to the western boundary of the state. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad encompassed nearly 10,000 miles of road by 1912, of which, according to the railroad commissioner's report already alluded to, 2,659 miles are in Kansas, and the company has expended over $3,000,000 in shops and office buildings in the city of Topeka.

The
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, first known as the southern branch of the Union Pacific, was organized at Emporia in 1867. Work was commenced on the road at Junction City in the summer of 1869, and in November the line was completed to Council Grove, a distance of 37 miles; in December it was finished to Emporia, 24 miles farther; in Feb., 1870, it was completed to Burlington, 30 miles farther down the Neosho valley; in April another 30 miles took the road to Humboldt and on June 6 the line entered the Indian Territory, thus securing the sole right of way, with land grant, through that territory. A writer in one of the Kansas Historical Collections said: "The race for the Indian Territory, between the competing lines, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas and the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf roads, will ever be a memorable event in the history of railway construction." Continued Next Page

 

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