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The Birth of The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, 1

by Joseph W. Snell and Don W. Wilson

Summer 1968 (Vol. 34, No. 2), pages 113 to 142.
Transcribed by Barbara J. Scott; digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to endnotes for this text.


THE RAPID growth of railroads after the Civil War was both a response to an existing need and an attempt to meet the challenge of future development. The frontier was pushing across the Kansas plains, Fifty-Niners had begun the settlement of Colorado and other areas of the mountain West, and the Pacific coast was already an important and growing market.

To link these widespread regions with one another and with Eastern markets fast and reliable transportation was needed. The railroad was the ready and obvious answer. Kansas business men and political leaders even before the Civil War dreamed of rail systems which would connect their infant cities with every place of importance in the nation. However, they soon learned that private enterprise alone could not finance such costly undertakings. Particularly in those areas where settlement was sparse and investment capital was slow in yielding returns, it was found that governmental assistance was necessary. This came in the form of land grants, and sometimes cash, from the federal and state governments, and from county, city, and township bond issues which were exchanged for railroad stock and a promise that the company would build their way.

The following account of the organization of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and the laying of its rails across Kansas is compiled from local newspapers of the time, from personal letters, and from company records. Together they tell a story of financial problems and physical hazards which might easily have discouraged men of less determination.

Cyrus K. Holliday has been credited with inaugurating the Santa Fe railroad system. He took concrete steps toward the building of a railroad to the west as early as 1859. Reflecting on the beginnings of the organization, Holliday wrote a letter to the editor of the Atchison Globe, July 23, 1891, explaining his role:

. . . I wrote the charter, every word, line, paragraph and section, near the close of the legislative session of 1859, at Lawrence, and had the whole thing complete except filling in the names of the incorporators, in the first section, before any person was aware that such a charter was being prepared. I then advised Mr. [Luther C.] Challis as to the names to be selected from the Atchison end of the lineI suggesting the names of General [Samuel C.] Pomeroy and Mr. Challis as two of the incorporators from Atchison, and he, in turn suggesting my name as one of the incorporators from Topeka.

The Charter was not written until nearly three-fourths of the time allotted for the session had expired. It was then written and introduced by myself into the council on Tuesday, the first day of February, 1859 (the session began on Monday, January 3). The next day, Wednesday, Feb. 2d, all rules were suspended and the Bill passed the Council and was sent to the House of Representatives. And on the last day of the session Feb. 11 the bill was returned to the council by Gov. [Samuel] Medary with his approval. . . .[1]

Since territorial Kansas had no general incorporation laws, it was necessary to obtain charter authorization through an act of the legislature. The charter provided that the company be incorporated under the name of the "Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company." It further stipulated that:

The said company is hereby authorized and empowered to survey, locate, construct, complete, alter, maintain and operate a railroad, with one or more tracks, from or near Atchison, on the Missouri River, in Kansas Territory, to the town of Topeka, in Kansas Territory, and to such a point on the southern or western boundary of said Territory, in the direction of Santa Fe, in the Territory of New Mexico, as may be convenient and suitable for the construction of such railroad; and, also to construct a branch of said railroad to any points on the southern boundary of said Territory of Kansas in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico. [2]

A severe drought in Kansas in 1860, followed by the outbreak of the Civil War the next year, prevented the company from making any progress toward actual construction. Formal organization, however, was completed between September 15 and 17, 1860, at the office of L. C. Challiss in Atchison. The humble beginnings of the company were recalled by the Topeka Weekly Leader, November 5, 1868, after the railroad had started building:

Ten [eight] years since, when there was no bridge across the Kaw at Topeka, four of our citizens, viz:Hon. E[dmund] G. Ross, U. S. Senate, Col. Joel Huntoon, Col. C. K. Holliday, and Col. M[ilton] C. Dickeystarted for Atchison, in buggies, to organize the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail Road Company.

At that time the citizens of Kansas were poor they had not much ready money. Our livery men kindly gave these gentlemen the use of teams without compensation. The party provided themselves with an outfit of eatables previous to starting Maj. Ross taking a stuffed boiled beef heart, and the others made up the cuisine in bread, pickles & etc.

The party neared the ferry, and while discussing the question, whether they should ask the ferryman for credit, or ford the river, the horses plunged into the watery current and after satisfying their thirst, moved on through the water and landed the four railroaders safe on the other side of the raging Kaw.

They arrived safe at Atchison; the Railroad Company was organized; and safely our Topeka men returned home without accident by the way; being liberally entertained, without cost by citizens of Atchison. . . .

Two years later another newspaper, the Emporia News, September 23, 1870, provided insight as to why the organizational meeting was held in Atchison in September, 1860:


The present brilliant prospects of this mammoth railway enterprise form a signal illustration of the great results which often follow from insignificant causes. All old settlers recollect that terrible year, the memory of which seems destined to be eternal, and which, even at this distance of time, serves as a Gorgon to affright the weak and timid. It was in 1860, when the then inhabitants, who had endured so many sacrifices and had experienced so much of sorrow and disappointment, were looking forward to years of peaceful and profitable industry, content if only, by earnest labor, a generous soil should afford to them a moderate compensation for all that they had lost and feared and suffered. How these hopes were disappointed we need not remind the reader. A terribly destructive drouth hung over our newly-cultured fields like a poisonous blight, crushing every expectation even of moderate harvests, and presaging inevitable disaster.

It was just at the period when these distressing indications became painfully apparent, that a party of Topeka gentlemen conceived the Utopian idea of setting the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway enterprise in active operation, not alone or even primarily because of any immediate necessity for the work itself, but in order that employment might be furnished to large numbers of needy persons, who were likely to become objects of charity if some such opportunity for self-support were not offered. Thaddeus Hyatt, the large-hearted philanthropist, was then at Atchison, and as he was possessed of considerable capital, the gentlemen to whom we have alluded conceived the idea of inducing him to embark in the enterprise.

Accordingly, one bright morning, unfortunately, all the mornings were bright in those days, this party, consisting of Edmund G. Ross, now United States Senator; Col. C. K. Holliday; Jacob Safford, now Judge of the Supreme Court, and Col. Dan Home [compare these names with those listed in previous quote], set out for Atchison, which was then, as now, a "great railroad center," (on paper,) for the purpose of consulting with the celebrated eastern philanthropist and certain Atchison gentlemen, including a since noted individual, who was soon to become unenviably prominent in another scheme of philanthropy. These gentlemen were "hard up,"had not money enough to pay their hotel bills, and so they laid in a supply of cooked rations to satisfy their hunger during what was then a long and toilsome journey. They were sparing of the little pocket money which they did possess, and so they slighted Jack Curtis' [father of future Vice-President Charles Curtis] ferry and forded the Kaw.

Well, they reached Atchison, and found that the great Hyatt was then under a financial cloud; having no ready means at his command, he could only furnish good wishes and encouraging words, and these could not be made immediately available. Nothing remained for them but to draw upon their own unlimited means (prospective.) They, therefore, with a half dozen equally wealthy and liberal Atchison gentlemen, magnanimously subscribed four thousand dollars each to the capital stock of the company, and then mutually felicitated each other that at last the enterprise was on a solid financial basis!

Years passed and, strange to say, even with this munificant endowment the work languished. But these sanguine gentlemen, with others equally sanguine, never lost heart; they nursed the enterprise through a struggling precarious infancy, and at last had the supreme satisfaction of seeing it firmly established as among the most flourishing adventures of this prolific and progressive age. All honor to the resolute men who quailed not in the presence of manifold discouragements, and who, not despising the day of small things, builded better than they knew.

Cyrus K. Holliday received the honor of being elected the first president of the company. Peter T. Abell was made secretary and Milton C. Dickey, treasurer. Thirteen directors were named, each of whom subscribed for $4,000 in stock, thus complying with the territory's requirement of a total of $50,000 in subscriptions. At this first meeting the directors agreed that if the venture were to succeed a land grant was necessary. [3]

The little progress that had been made within the company, however, could hardly have justified this report of the Topeka Record, November 24, 1860:

It is with a good deal of satisfaction that we are able to announce that the Atchison and Topeka Railroad, which has been a source of so much levity with many of our contemporaries and a prolific theme for prosy disquisitions by the score, the drouth, benevolence, railroads, etc. etc., is in a fair way to realize the expectations of its projectors.

The company remained almost in hibernation for over two years until congressional aid was finally obtained in 1863. A land-grant bill was drafted by Holliday and sent to Senator Pomeroy for sponsorship. Passed by both houses and signed by President Lincoln, March 3, 1863, it provided:

That there be, and is hereby, granted to the State of Kansas, for the purpose of aiding in the construction: First, of a railroad and telegraph from the city of Leavenworth by the way of the town of Lawrence, and via the Ohio City crossing of the Osage River, to the southern line of the State, in the direction of Galveston bay in Texas, with a branch from Lawrence by the valley of the Wakarusa River, to the point on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad where said road intersects the Neosho River. Second, of a railroad from the city of Atchison, via Topeka, the capital of said State, to the western line of the State, in the direction of Fort Union and Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a branch from where this last-named road crosses the Neosho, down said Neosho valley to the point where the said first-named road enters the said Neosho valley; every alternate section of land, designated by odd numbers, for ten sections in width one each side of said roads and each of its branches. . . . [4]

This act also carried the stipulation that the line, from Atchison to the Kansas-Colorado line, should be completed and in operation by March 3, 1873.

The name of the company was changed to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail Road Company on November 24, 1863, by a vote of the stockholders who were meeting in Topeka. Changes were made in the Santa Fe's administration on January 13, 1864. Pomeroy was elected president, replacing Holliday who took over the office of secretary. Samuel N. Wood became vice-president and D. L. Lakin treasurer. [5] Less than a month later the federal land grant was accepted by the Kansas legislature and approved by the governor. The Civil War, however, was still raging and little could be done except to keep the company organization intact.

Even after the war ended the problem of finding investors willing to finance the initial construction still remained and progress was slow. By fall of 1867 the project had gained enough momentum to negotiate a contract with a construction firm. An agreement was made with George Washington Beach of New York on October 12 for building the line from Parnell Junction, six and a half miles southwest of Atchison, to the western boundary of the state. This action raised the hopes of many Kansans, especially those in populated areas along the route. The Emporia News proclaimed somewhat prophetically on January 17, 1868:


Life is a dream almost; great works are begun and accomplished as if by a magic power!

The Atchison and Santa Fe Road!

This has been regarded as a paper road; yet it will prove to be a great reality. A letter before us, from a responsible source, states, that the contract for the building of the road from Topeka to Burlingame is signed and sealed; that the work will commence in the early spring; and that it will be pushed forward with railroad energy and speed.

Another important fact is stated by our informant.

Coal in large quantities and of good quality has been discovered near Burlingame. The beds vary from thirty-five to forty inches in thickness. . . .

The awarding of the contract also brought a response from Gov. Samuel Crawford in his message to the legislative session of 1868:

. . . The people of Kansas have reason to congratulate themselves upon the rapid advance of railway communication into and through the state. . . . The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad has been surveyed and placed under contract, with reasonable assurance that the work will be immediately commenced and prosecuted until the road is completed into the interior of south-western Kansas. The opening up of the coal fields along the projected line of this road is a matter of great importance to the entire state, as also to other railway companies. . . . [6]

Unfortunately, however, Beach failed even to begin construction and a new contract had to be negotiated. Cyrus Holliday reported in March that some progress was being made toward forming a new group of backers called the Atchison Associates. A letter which he wrote to Col. Preston B. Plumb was printed in part in the Emporia News, April 3, 1868:


While at Topeka last week we heard many encouraging words about the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The leading men of that city seem to think it will certainly be built to Burlingame this season. When it reaches that point of course it will not be a great while until it lands on the bank of the Neosho.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter from Col. C. K. Holliday, now in New York on business for this road, to Col. Plumb, of this place, which will be of general interest. It is dated 20th of March:

"In carrying out my agreement with you to write about our road, I can today only 'report progress and ask leave to sit again.' We have had several meetings of the 'associates,' and thus far everything has gone favorably, but so very, very slow. To-morrow there will be another meeting, when we hope to finally consummate our arrangement for the immediate building of our road. Of one thing I am greatly pleased: and that is the appearance of our men. Unlike what I expected a lot of New York Wall street sharpers they are old, reliable and substantial men. They have the means, and mean business, and when the thing is finally closed I am convinced they will make matters move in the right direction, and with a rapidity unexcelled by any road in our State, except, perhaps, the Union Pacific. I will keep you advised as things progress on our road.

Among the group of "Associates" was Thomas J. Peter, an able engineer and leader. He was a member of Dodge, Lord & Company of Cincinnati, who had obtained the defaulted Beach contract in 1868. The company then made an agreement with Peter whereby he became the assignee of Beach. Before accepting the position as superintendent of the railroad Peter took a trip to Kansas to investigate the feasibility of the venture. The Emporia News, May 1, 1868, commented on the tour:


On Monday morning last our town was taken by a lot of Railroad men who were looking over the route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Road. Among the party was T. J. Peters, a New York Engineer, Hon. D. L. Lakin, and W. W. H. Lawrence. Mr. Lakin had just returned from New York where he had been for weeks laboring to enlist capitalists in the enterprise. He so far succeded as to have a company send Mr. Peters here to look over the route, and report upon its feasibility. We did not have a chance to talk to any of the parties, but learn that the undertaking to build the road from Topeka to Burlingame this summer depends upon the character of the report Mr. Peters would make to the New York parties who sent him here. We also understand that he was very favorably impressed with the country and the feasibility of the route, and that there could be no doubt but that the work would be immediately undertaken by the New York capitalists.

This is all we can say at present, but from what we have been told by reliable gentlemen, we shall have something more favorable to tell our readers in a short time.

Upon the return of the group to New York and the presentation of a favorable report to the prospective investors by Peter, negotiations for construction of a railroad from Topeka to Burlingame were completed. On June 25, 1868, Peter secured the Beach contract by assignment at a cost of $19,330. [7] By July 9 the news had reached the Freedom's Champion in Atchison:




Good news comes to us respecting the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The contract for its construction is signed, and work is to be commenced at once. The Topeka State Record of Wednesday contains the following reference to this great enterprise:

"Col. Holliday and Mr. Lakin reached home yesterday. They represent that by the terms of the contract, work is to commence during the present month, and while they are only bound to build 25 miles S. W. during the first year and 15 miles this way from where it leaves the Atchison road (six miles west of Atchison) yet they expect to push the work as fast as it can be done, and hope to reach Burlingame not later than next June, and Emporia early next spring. They are authorized to put Col. Huntoon on to the surveys next Monday, and will do so if he can be engaged, and if not some other engineer will be employed. Mr. Peters, of Cincinnati, is the business man of the concern, and some of the heaviest men in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, New York and Boston are in the contract. The Pottowatomie lands go to the contractors."

This is all that can be expected all that we could ask. It insures the completion of the Road within a reasonable time, and the immediate commencement of work upon it.

Important as are other enterprises in which our city is interested, we regard the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad as the most important, in its advantages to Atchison, of all. It is emphatically our Road. No other town, no other interest, can tap it to our detriment. It opens to us an immense area of the fairest and most fertile country in the State. It gives us a direct connection with the State Capitol, and thence pushes on in a South-West direction, striking the great coal fields of Osage county and threading the rich and populous valley of the Neosho. . . .

Some of our citizens have, at times, looked upon other enterprises as of more immediate and direct advantages to our material prosperity. We never have. We have said, again and again, what we now repeat with emphasis, and what we believe as careful and intelligent examination will demonstrate to the satisfaction of every one, that the building of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad will be of more substantial, permanent advantage to Atchison than any other road we have ever contemplated, with the single exception of our Central Branch Road. The other roads are, more or less, of mere local importance. The A., T. and S. F. Railroad will force the centering at our city of at least three other roads, and will unite with us in interests Chicago and all the great Northern lines of travel and trade. Other contemplated roads run but a short distance through our State. The A., T. and S. F. Railroad threads Kansas from North-East to South-West, its entire length, traversing a section of country the resources of which are as unlimited as its future development and prosperity are incalculable. The wealth and commerce which this region will pour into our midst, if this road is completed, cannot be estimated.

We rejoice, therefore, to learn that all difficulties in the way of its commencement and completion have been obviated, and that work upon it is to be at once begun, and prosecuted with energy and zeal. Our citizens have reason to be glad that at last the success of this great National enterprise is assured. Their rejoicings will mingle with those of the people along its line, who are, with us, so deeply interested in it, and so much to be benefitted by its completion. Those who have labored for it so earnestly and faithfully, and whose efforts have at last been crowned with success, will receive, as they deserve to receive, the gratitude and thanks of the entire State.

Meanwhile another giant stride was being taken to assure the building of the line. Just west and north of Topeka, in a well-settled area, was the Pottowatomie Indian reservation. The Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad had held a six-year option to buy a certain portion, but had failed to exercise the right. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad then negotiated with the Pottawatomies to buy the land. The purchase, however, had to be approved by congress. When Rep. Sidney Clarke of Kansas voiced opposition to the measure the Topeka Leader, July 16, 1868, responded by printing a scathing attack on Clarke:


The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company, some weeks since entered into a treaty with the Pottowatomie tribe of Indians to take their unoccupied lands and pay for the same the sum of one dollar per acre. If this treaty shall secure ratification by the President and Senate of the United States, then, there will be no delay in the building and operating this railroad. . . . One dollar per acre, taking the lands as a whole, is in our opinion a very fair price, and the people of the State will rejoice at the news of the ratification of this treaty.

For some reason our Congressman, Mr. Clarke, does not favor the Pottowatomie treaty. Probably he has not been approached by an individual carrying a carpet sack. Now if the members of the A. T. & S. F. Company have not taken the opinion of Mr. C. on this important treaty they are very much to blame. Who knows but that he would have subscribed stock to the road and paid for the same in Indian lands. Certainly, he would have been more than pleased to enter into negotiations of such character.

However, our people are very anxious that these lands shall in some manner be brought into market, and they are also anxious that this line of railroad shall be built, and for what reason Mr. Clarke is putting his foot into this treaty we are at a loss to know. If he thinks that he is making votes in this locality, or upon the line of road contemplated, he [is] very much mistaken. In fact, when he comes to the next Republican feast where nominations are to be conferred, he will be obliged to take a back seat. . . .

Federal approval was granted on July 25, 1868, and the A. T. & S. F. railroad was given permission to purchase the remaining unallotted lands of the Pottawatomies at the proposed price of one dollar per acre. The company had six years to pay, with a carrying charge of only six percent on the unpaid balance. The Indian lands consisted of nearly 340,000 acres, the sale of which would finance early construction.

The "Associates" called another meeting for September 23, 1868. In a letter to his wife, Colonel Holliday related the progress of negotiations:

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 1868 DEAR MARY

This is Saturday morning. On Thursday the papers were "signed, sealed, and delivered" which passes the company from the old parties to the new.

The building of our Road, immediately, is now assured beyond a doubt.

Mr. Peter will go next week to Topeka to start the work: while here the company has already arranged for iron, locomotives, cars, & etc.

At least this looks like business, and I shall be greatly disappointed if it don't mean business.

I see now no reason why the foregoing information may not be published in our city papers. Therefore if the opportunity offers you may say as much to the Editors of the Record and Leader. Mr. Peter will leave tonight. Mr. & Mrs. Lakin will go in a day or twoperhaps Monday.

At the urgent request of the Company by a vote of its directors, I am compelled to go over to Washington again to obtain certificates from the Interior Dept. for the land that is coming to the Co. under the Pot. Treaty. I cannot tell how long this will detain me, but hope not more than three or four days or a week at farthest. I expect to go to W[ashington] on Monday next.

General Pomeroy is now here and Ross has been here this week and this morning I look for him again. I expect to get some money from the Co. today. If not I can't go anywhere.


With the company finally organized and backed with sufficient financial resources to begin construction, a dramatic announcement was printed in the Kansas State Record, October 7, 1868, climaxing the long awaited moment by most Kansans along the proposed route:


We have received from Col. Holliday now in New York the following letter, which we publish entire:

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 1868

E. P. BAKER:The child is born and his name is "Success." Let the Capital City rejoice.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road will be built beyond a peradventure. Work will commence immediately. Please inform the good people of Topeka and Shawnee County of the brilliant future awaiting them.
Very Truly, Yours,   

It is fitting that Col. Holliday should be the final successful negotiator in this enterprise. To no one man in Kansas can the praise be awarded more surely for fostering and encouraging the various railroad schemes now making every farmer in the State richer than he was, than to Col. Holliday.

While others have abandoned the project as chimerical, the Col. has never faltered, but has steadfastly kept on winning his way until his enterprising schemes became the people's, and success came of it. The Col. is soon to return and will merit the approbation of every property holder in the city.

On the same day Holliday sent a telegram to the Freedom's Champion in Atchison which was printed with jubilant comment on October 3, 1868:


Yesterday morning we had the pleasure of publishing a letter from Senator POMEROY, in which he stated that all the preliminary steps had been taken to commence the building of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and to-day we give our readers the following letter from Col. C. K. HOLLIDAY, which is as welcome news to the people of Atchison as we ever expect to publish. Away! now, with all doubts, suspicions, grumblings and fault findings! Let them all give place to hearty effort in pushing along the good work. "One blast upon" the Iron Horse "is worth ten thousand" croaks!

Read the following and be joyful:

NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 1868 GEN. JOHN A. MARTIN:

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe R. R. is, at last, an assured success. You can so report to the good people of Atchison with entire confidence. Work will commence immediately.

Very truly yours,   

On October 10, 1868, the Champion & Press of Atchison reported that "the amount of money paid into the hands of the Treasurer of the contractors on the Santa Fe Railroad . . . was $140,000 . . . and more will be paid as soon as needed." Thus, after nearly 10 years of frustration and disappointment, the stage was set for the actual building of the railroad across Kansas. Iron for about 20 miles of the road had already been purchased and T. J. Peter arrived in Topeka in early October to take charge of the operations.


There is some question as to when the first spadeful of earth was turned marking the beginning of construction on the Santa Fe. Railroad tradition and several historians say the date was October 30, 1868, but the only contemporary notice of the event appeared in the Topeka Weekly Leader, November 5, which stated the occurrence was "this morning." Since the Leader was a weekly newspaper, however, there is a possibility that type for the article had been set before the publication date.

Chief participant in the ceremony, which took place between Fourth and Fifth on Washington street in Topeka, was Sen. Edmund G. Ross, by then recovered from the Presidential impeachment trial in which he had played so decisive a role the previous spring. Also in the crowd of about 20 persons was Cyrus K. Holliday. In part the Leader said:

After an absence of four years in the army of the Union, and three years in the United States Senate, our friend Ross returns to Topeka in time to take up the shovel and throw the first earth upon the grading of this same railroad that ten years since he helped organize.

And this morning, in speaking of these years of strife and turmoil, and reverting to this old established company, Col. [A. J.] Huntoon being present, Maj. Ross felt happy that he had been instrumental in helping to form a company that would in a few years, at most, be of so much consequence to the State. . .

When construction began the Santa Fe had no rolling stock whatsoever. Locomotives and cars had been ordered, to be delivered over the rails of the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, which had reached Topeka from Kansas City in December, 1865, but that road was on the north side of the Kaw river and the Santa Fe was on the south. Consequently, one of the first projects to be completed was a bridge connecting the two railroads. At the same time, grading was being pushed toward Burlingame. The Osage Chronicle, of that town, reported on December 24, 1868:

There are two pile drivers at work driving piles in the Kansas river for the bridge of the A. T. & S. F. R. R. Co. Eight to ten piles a day are being driven. Work is being pushed as fast as practicable, not only on the bridge, but in grading. The grading gangs have not stopped a day on account of the weather.

On March 20, 1869, the Chronicle gave another report on the road's progress:


We are daily almost hourly questioned with reference to our knowledge of the status of the above Road. Like the questioners, themselves, all we positively know is that four counties have voted bonds, that the Company has gained possession of the Pottawottomie reservation with a fair prospect of a portion of the Osage lands and that the Road has been progressing apparently with all possible celerity since its construction was commenced last fall. By reference to extracts contained in other portions of this issue, it will be seen that the bridge across the Kansas will soon be completed, at a cost of some $50,000, and that the work is generally progressing, notwithstanding the various conflicting rumors that were afloat a week or two since. A gentleman informed us day-before-yesterday that the surveyor was sticking grading stakes this side of the Cottonwood Grove. Mr. [Thomas J.] Peter [superintendent] has returned from Washington, and advertises, through the Topeka papers, for five hundred hands at $2 per day. Such a force as that would grade the road from one to three miles per day. Notwithstanding the discouragingly inclement winter we think everything looks as bright as possible.

The extract from the Lawrence Kansas State Journal "contained in other portions" of the issue detailed construction of the Kansas river bridge:


We had the pleasure of meeting yesterday, Mr. J. D. Criley, builder of the new railroad bridge at Topeka.

We are pleased to hear from him that work upon the bridge is progressing very satisfactorily, and that the structure, which will be one of the finest in the Western country, will be finished by the middle of March, when iron for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Road, will be transported across the bridge, and the work of track laying at once commenced. The bridge will be 1,400 feet long, and twenty-one feet above high water mark. One pier is done, and there are now about sixty men at work on the bridge and forty on the road. The cost of the bridge will be about $50,000. Some five or six miles of the road are already graded and the road will be completed to Burlingame in June, and, possibly, to Emporia within the year. As soon as the bridge is completed, work on the depot will commence at Topeka, and be finished in a few months. Altogether the prospects of Topeka, and of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Road are very encouraging.

The bridge was completed sometime before the end of the month for on March 30, 1869, the Santa Fe's first locomotive crossed over to its parent tracks. The Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth, April 1, stated:


The first locomotive, "C. K. Holliday," [9] crossed the railroad bridge over the Kaw river, at this place, on Tuesday evening last [March 30], drawing four or five carloads of railroad iron. This is a great event for Topeka. And in less than five years the capitol city will contain a larger population than any town or city in the State of Kansas. . . .

By late April track had been laid beyond Pauline. An excursion was held and guests had a merry time. The Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth, May 1, 1869, reported the gala affair:


On Monday afternoon last [April 26], through the courtesy of the management of the A. T. and S. F. R. R. Co., we had the pleasure of being a member of an excursion party, consisting of two passenger car loads of ladies and gentlemen, to visit the end of the track, which at that time had been laid to Cottonwood Grove [a now-extinct town two miles south of Pauline], some seven miles distant from the river. Among the guests we observed the wife of a Director, Mrs. C. K. Holliday, D. L. Lakin, [Santa Fe] Land Commissioner; T. J. Peter, Superintendent; Geo. Noble, Assistant Superintendent Kansas Pacific Railway [which had changed its name from Union Pacific, Eastern Division the month before]; Messrs. [A. G.] Miller, [George W.] Spencer and [Elliott] Carriger, Commissioners of Shawnee county; Jacob Smith, Theodore Mills, L. C. Wilmarth; Mr. Lord, Engineer Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and about seventeen members, more or less, of the House of Kellam.

We left the city at three o'clock and soon were steaming over the prairies at the rate of fifteen miles an hour. We crossed the Shunganunga over a substantially built bridge, and all the streams and rivers we crossed were either bridged or culverted in the most substantial manner. The culverts in particular elicited the most approved commendations from the party for their profuseness and the excellent character of the mason work. They, as well as the walls and abutments of the bridges, are all constructed of stone and built for service. The ties are of oak and walnut and the rails are 56-pound iron. The grade cuts and embankments are unusually wide, and the necessary fluctuations of the grades are gradual and easy. Hills and stone quarries have been plowed through and divers deep and wide ravines have been filled with earth to make way for the road bed. It was apparent to all that the road had not been built merely for the purpose of securing franchises, but that its proprietors designed it for service. Superintendent Noble, an experienced railroader, pronounced the work the best he ever saw in a prairie country.

We reached the end of the track in about thirty minutes where the tracklayers were busily at work securing the iron to the ties at the rate of one-half to three-quarters of a mile per day. Carriages were awaiting us here to transport us to the Wakarusa, five miles distant. The grading and most of the culverting and bridging is completed to the Wakarusa, and if no accidents happen the track will be laid to the county line by the 10th of next month. The bridge over the Wakarusa is nearly completed.

From the expeditious and satisfactory manner in which this company have conducted their work the friends of the enterprise can rest easy as to its prospects. There is no mistake about it, we are soon to have a road from Atchison to Emporia, and a good one, too. The company are faithfully performing their obligations. Let the parties of the other part be as faithful as the company, and all will be well.

We must not forget to mention that the excursionists were liberally supplied with refreshments by their entertainers. The excursion was a pleasant one, and judging from the sparkling eyes, the lively sallies of wit, the jokes, the repartees and the hilarity that generally prevailed, we know that all gladly welcomed the substitution of the iron horse for the Indian pony, the buck-board and the tri-weekly (make a trip one week and try to make another the next) stage.

By the middle of May the Santa Fe had more than doubled its trackage. The Emporia News, May 14, discussed that fact as well as the ever-present problem of finance:

THE A., T. & S. F. R. R. COMING!

Col. C. K. Holliday and D. L. Lakin visited this place on Wednesday [May 12] for the purpose of asking a submission to the people of Lyon county of the question of voting bonds to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, a meeting of the Commissioners having been called for that purpose on that day. After a discussion of the matter between these two gentlemen on behalf of the railroad company, and the Commissioners and several citizens, it was agreed to submit the question of taking stock in the road to the amount of $200,000 on the 15th of June next, upon the conditions published below.

Col. Holliday informs us that fifteen miles of the road are now completed and the cars running.

A survey is to be made at once from here to the Walnut, it being necessary to file the plat of the route at Washington. The road will run up the Cottonwood at least as far as South fork.

This road is now on a financial basis which insures its success. All doubt of its being built is removed. By the conditions on which the company procured a portion of the Pottawatomie lands, the road has to be completed between Atchison and Topeka by a certain time, thus making it necessary for work to be prosecuted on that end of the route while the road is being built between here and Burlingame. This is the reason why the company ask until the 1st day of October, 1870, to complete the road to this point. While this time is asked for to cover all unlooked-for delays, it is really expected the road will be built to Emporia several months before that time expires.

There will be four issues of the paper between now and the time of voting on this question, and we expect to give our readers, from week to week, the reasons why we support this proposition. In supporting it we shall only be actuated by a desire to benefit the county, and every farmer, mechanic, and business man in it.

We understand that a thorough canvass of the county will be made by several speakers. In the meantime we ask our readers to give the question that calm consideration which its great importance demands. Let the matter be thoroughly discussed pro and con. . . .

The little railroad's tracks were kept warm by the constant trips of the Santa Fe's only engine bringing supplies from Topeka to end of track. The Osage Chronicle, May 15, 1869, reported:

The construction train on the A. T. & S. F. Railroad is making three trips daily from Topeka to Wakarusa. The Col. Holliday's whistle can be heard distinctly when the wind is favorable, and the music thereof accelerates one's spirits and sends the blood tingling to the end of the toes. We learn, indirectly, that a passenger coach will be put on next week and that the Topeka, Burlingame and Emporia [stage] coaches will thereafter make connection at the end of the Road.

A correspondent of the Topeka Commonwealth, writing from the end of track, was almost overcome with emotion as he described Santa Fe country in a letter which was published on May 20:


END OF THE TRACK, May 18, 1869.

MESSRS. EDITORS:Yesterday morning through the kindness of Mr. [George] Beach, the gentlemanly engineer of the train on the A. T. and Santa Fe Railroad, we were permitted to enjoy a ride on this road to the end of the track, which is now laid over twelve miles to the Wakarusa bridge. The bridge is going up as rapidly as the timbers can be brought forward, and from appearances it will be a substantial structure. The road is being ballasted and made solid and substantial as rapidly as possible, so that it can be opened to the use of the public by the first of June. Then there will be a regular train run from the depot, on the corner of Fifth and Washington streets to the end of the track, which will be south of the Wakarusa, on its rapid march toward Burlingame, the county-seat of Osage.

This road runs through a beautiful section of country, waiting in all patience for the hand of the husbandman to make it the garden spot of the beautiful West. It taps the coal fields south of the Wakarusa about five miles, which spread far and wide under these rich and fertile lands. Like the tide of the ocean, these prairies rise and fall in beautiful slopes and undulations and roll away in their deep green waves till lost in the smoky sunlight of the summer day. The variety of scenery which is found in Kansas far surpasses almost any country we have ever seen; the hilltops, with their projecting rocks the slopes, with their rich waving grassand the valleys, with their bowers where the sunlight scarcely fallsso much are the branches interwoven with vines and the deep foliage of the cumbrous trees all go to make up a scene unsurpassed in beauty. We often think that there must have been some mistake as to the location of the garden of Eden, for if it was a literal garden, the Lord could not have found a fairer spot than these valleys of the West, that lie along the clear and limpid streams of Kansas.

Before we close, we must not neglect to state that the company is building an elegant and commodious depot in Topeka, on the corner of Fifth and Washington streets, for the accommodation of the public, and are pushing forward as rapidly as possible other improvements in the way of side tracks, switches, work shops, &c. The company has a large body of land for sale, some of the best in the State, lying near Topeka, which they are selling off very rapidly. Their sales for the present month will be over $50,000 and the land is sold on the most liberal terms, which places it within the reach of every man desiring a home on these broad prairies of our rapidly growing State. When one looks at Mr. Peter, the sterling chief engineer of the road, one feels satisfied that things will move, and the road in time be one of the best in the State, when it has reached out its long arm and grasped the golden treasurers of the southwest.


An inspection trip in reverse was made by Marsh Murdock, editor of the Osage Chronicle and later founder of the famed Wichita Eagle. He related his experiences in the Chronicle of May 21, 1869:


Last Tuesday morning [May 18] in company with D. B. McDougal, W. C. Chatfield and R. M. Rambo, gentlemen of our town, we started for the end of the A. T. & S. F. R. R. The morning was more than one could wish, all nature wore a glad spring-time smile. At the end of an hour and a half's drive we met Col. Thomas J. Peter and Mr. Frederick Lord, who were determining the grade and route between the 110 [Mile] creek and the headwaters of Berry creek. After a warm hand shaking and many questions and answers, Col. Peter took a seat in our carriage when we drove down to the selected site of the future city of Carbondale. Carbondale is situated about 4 miles south of Wakarusa and one mile and a quarter west of the Dodds' coalbank. From this point a side track will be constructed up to the above banks. From there we drove down something like two miles farther when there appeared a scene gladening to our rural eyes. For a mile or so up and down the Valley of Rock creek hundreds of shovels were making bright flourishes in the sun, teams of all descriptions were turning round and round dragging their dump carts, scoops, plows and wagons, with "gee-wo-haws," whistling, jokes and what-nots. The skirting timber was thickly dotted with white tents, which were rendered lively by the in and out-goings of cooks of various genders, shades and dimensions. Further along many masons were busy laying up culverts with stone and mortar. The whole scene so presented and so quicklymade us feel like turning a double summersault and giving three cheers for Osage county and the A. T. & S. F. R. R. The only thing that prevented such a proceeding on our part was a recurrence of the thought that editors are not supposed to do light things before solid Railroad men.

A few hundred yards further on the county line was reached. From this point down to the Wakarusa the road bed is all ready for the ties and rails. The abutments at the Wakarusa are of the most substantial character. The span is about sixty feet in length, and some twenty-two feet above high water mark. Further up the road we could distinctly hear the clink of the tracklayer's hammer, and the toot of the C. K. Holliday, but the cravings of the inner man hinted "grub," so we repaired to the opposite bank where we were furnished a substantial dinner and warm hospitalities at the hand of Mr. Hamilton. After dinner we took through the brush across the creek to where sixty or seventy men were at work arranging the ties and placing the rails. The rapidity with which this is done is almost incredible. No track had been laid for over a week on account of non-receipt of the iron, 4800 feet of the track was spiked down on that day,wanting but a few feet of a mile. We could not withstand the temptation of sending one spike home ourselves. The rails of the A. T. & S. F. R. R. next to the [Union] Pacific, are the heaviest of any in the State, weighing 50 pounds to the yard. The ties are the best and the heaviest that we ever saw. Col. Peter confidentially asserted that so far the A. T. & S. F. R. R. was the best road in the State. We had arrived at the same conclusion. . . .

Cyrus K. Holliday, founder of Topeka

Cyrus K. Holliday, a founder of Topeka, has long been regarded as the father of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad.

Thomas J. Peter, first superintendent of AT&SF railroad

Thomas J. Peter, first superintendent, was responsible for building the road across Kansas. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

Atchison KS 1860

Atchison as it appeared about 1860 when the railroad was organized.

Birthplace of Santa Fe RR

L. C. Challiss' office in Atchison, the birthplace of the Santa Fe. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

Luther Challiss

Luther C. Challiss in whose Atchison office the Santa Fe railroad was organized, September 15-17, 1860. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

Sen. Edmund Ross

U. S. Sen. Edmund G. Ross who turned the first spadeful of earth in the autumn of 1868 to initiate construction of the Santa Fe.

Chas. Pierce

Charles W. Pierce was secretary and treasurer during the period of the Santa Fe's Kansas construction. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

Samuel Pomeroy

Samuel C. Pomeroy, United States senator from Kansas, succeeded Cyrus K. Holliday to become the line's second president, 1864-1868.

Santa Fe general office, Topeka, 1880

The Santa Fe's first general office in Topeka as it appeared in 1880. Superintendent Peter's office included the bay window on the second floor.

Early train of the AT&SF

The first train, pulled by the Cyrus K. Holliday, engine No. 1, may have looked like this. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

David Lakin

David L. Lakin, the Santa Fe's first land commissioner, for whom the town of Lakin was named. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

M. L. Sargent

M. L. Sargent, the line's first paymaster. The town bearing his name later became Coolidge. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

AT&SF timetable, 1869

Courtesy Santa Fe railway.


Burlingame in 1879. Its main street had been the Santa Fe trail before the railroad arrived.

Burlingame Station

No. 803, a 4-6-0 built in 1891, pulls into Burlingame in the mid-1890's. Courtesy W. J. Chatfield.

Celebration poster 'Lands' poster Meriden

Meriden, several years after the Santa Fe had passed through. Courtesy Helen Rodecap.

Osage County coal mine

One of the Osage county coal mines which early provided fuel and income for the Santa Fe. Courtesy Earl Radenz.

Peabody in 1879

Peabody in 1879, with the Santa Fe tracks in the foreground.

Newton in 1871

Newton's main street in 1871, looking north from the Santa Fe tracks.

Southwestern Railroad stock certificate

Stock certificate in the company that built from Newton to Wichita. H. C. Sluss and J. R. Mead both played important roles in Wichita's early history. Courtesy Santa Fe railway.

p> Santa Fe track east of Hutchinson, 1872

End of track three miles east of Hutchinson. This photograph was taken by C. C. Hutchinson, the city's founder, in 1872. Courtesy J. M. Connell.

Great Bend in 1879

Great Bend in 1879, seven years after the railroad had arrived. Courtesy Paul Stanfield and the Hutchinson News.

Larned in 1880's

Larned in the 1880's. It had been founded in 1872. Courtesy E. E. Newacheck and the Fort Larned Historical Society.

Larned freight depot

Freight goods jam Larned's depot in its early days.

Santa Fe Depot at Spearville

Spearville in the 1890's; the Santa Fe Depot is at left. Courtesy A. L. Soule.

Dodge City

This scene in Dodge City was photgraphed shortly after the Santa Fe had arrived, September, 1872.

Dodge City Depot

For several years Dodge City's only depot was a Santa Fe box car on a side track.

Harvey House

The desk of Dodge City's Harvey House.

Declaration of Principles 1876

Not everything worked smoothly, however. The Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, May 22, reported an unfortunate accident to the Cyrus K. Holliday:

The locomotive on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Road burst a valve, last evening, some ten miles from town, and the workmen were compelled to walk into town. Pretty severe on them.

But three days later the Commonwealth could state that

the railroad bridge is completed across the Wakarusa, and track-laying is progressing beyond that stream.
"By my soul, the work goes bravely on!"

Track reached the Osage county line on May 27 and the Commonwealth, June 4, 1869, predicted that it would reach the coal mines by the middle of the month:

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad will be completed to the coal mines, distant sixteen miles, from Topeka, within the next ten days. The Company own and have leases on several thousand acres of coal land. The veins in these mines are from twelve to thirty inches in thickness, and the coal is said to be of superior quality. We expect we shall soon be favored with cheap coal in Topeka.

"There are over two hundred hands on the grade of the A. T. & S. R. R. R., in Osage county," reported the Commonwealth on June 16, 1869. "The road will soon be completed to Burlingame, notwithstanding the many inconveniences they have had to work against."

On June 16 the Santa Fe's first passenger cars were brought to Topeka over the Kansas Pacific. The Commonwealth, June 17, was quite proud of Topeka's railroad:

Last night's train from the east brought two splendid passenger coaches and six freight cars for the A. T. & S. F. Railroad. That's business, and don't look much as if the R. R. Company intended to "shyster."

Officials of the Santa Fe lost little time in putting the new coaches to good use. The Commonwealth, June 18, reported an excursion the day after their delivery:

An excursion party, consisting of about two hundred citizens of Topeka, and some invited friends from abroad, took a trip over the A. T. & S. F. R. R., yesterday. Among the guests outside the city, we observed Col. D. W. Houston, U. S. Marshal; Messrs. Miller, Spencer and Carriger, County Commissioners who, by the way, were the especial guests of the Company, and recipients of particular favors from the entire party Col. Dennis, Attorney of the Kansas Pacific Railway, and Mr. Dodds, of Osage county. We never saw a more convivial or happier crowd. TOM ANDERSON [former adjutant general of Kansas but then agent of the Kansas Pacific at Topeka] was one of the party, and of course circulated fun. TOM is as full of fun as an oyster is of meat, and an excursion party might as well be without the and so forths, as to be without him.

The party went to the end of the track, about two miles into Osage county and about fifteen miles from Topeka. The trip down was accomplished within one hour. Two miles from the end of the track is Carbondale, the new mining town of the Company. The track will be laid to that place by Monday next [June 21]. The work will not be interrupted. It will be pushed on vigorously to Burlingame.

The condition of this road, the character of the work and the nature of the country through which it passes, having been thoroughly and repeatedly described in our columns, we will not attempt a repetition here. We must not fail to mention, however, that Urbanna, the new town at the crossing of the Wakarusa, is a beautiful location far a town, and that improvements are in progress there. It will be a nice place for pic-nics and excursion parties of all kinds to visit.

On June 23 Thomas J. Peter was able to announce the Santa Fe's first regularly scheduled service. His advertisement appeared in the Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth beginning on June 25, 1869:

A. T. & S. F. R. R. TIME TABLE.

TOPEKA, June 23, 1869.

The above railroad will be opened for business on Monday, June 28th, 1869, between Topeka and Carbondale, at which point trains connect with stages for Burlingame and Emporia. Trains will run daily (except Sundays) as follows: Mixed train leaves Topeka at 6:15 a.m., arriving at Carbondale, 7:45 a.m. Passenger leaves Carbondale 10:10 a.m. arrives at Topeka 11:30 a.m., and connects with east and west trains on Kansas Pacific. Returning leaves Topeka at 1:00 p. m. arriving at Carbondale 2:00 p.m. Mixed train leaves Carbondale 4:00 p.m. arriving at Topeka 5:45 p.m.

T. J. PETER, Supt.

Back in Topeka work on the company's combination depot and general office building continued. The Commonwealth, July 8, 1869, reported a visit of the editor:

Yesterday we visited the new depot buildings of the A. T. & S. F. R. R. Quite a number of workmen are engaged in fiitting up the house so that comfort and convenience combined, will insure success in business.

The plasterers will soon have finished the upper rooms, so that the general offices of the company will be up stairs. At present, Mr. Sargeant [M. L. Sargent, paymaster] has a desk in the lower office. The waiting rooms are freshly painted and are remarkable specimens of order and neatness. Everything about the buildings evidences the fact that those who planned the arrangements were experienced.

The same issue of the Commonwealth also reported that the Santa Fe could make do with building materials once used for lesser purposes:

The Velocipede Rink is being dismantled, preparatory to removing the lumber to Carbondale, where it is to be used in erecting a boardinghouse for the Santa Fe railroad men. The 'Pedes have been sold to parties who purpose inflicting them upon the citizens of some place farther west.

In spite of heavy rains work continued. The Santa Fe laid track, pushed its surveys, and purchased new rolling stock. The Burlingame Osage Chronicle, July 24, 1869, reported at length on the road's progress and mentioned the line's second locomotive:


For one whole year, ending the 21st of the present month, we have been the unwilling recipients of unusually heavy rains; especially has it been the case for the past six months. Notwithstanding these unfavorable circumstances the A. T. & S. F. R. R. enterprise has been pushed along with wonderful vigor. A five hour's rain in the forenoon never hindered work in the afternoon. The culvert builders and quarrymen are now at work within two miles of Burlingame. The road-bed is ready for the ties and rails from Carbondale to 110 [Mile] creek. Col. T. J. Peter returned from the east on Tuesday and he informs us that the whole work will be prosecuted with greater vigor than ever, and that the Engineer, Fred. Lord will proceed next week to make the permanent survey between Burlingame and Emporia. Mr. Peter, during his absence, purchased a new engine from the Burnside works, [10] also another new passenger coach. The lumber has been purchased for the depot at Burlingame. As we said a week since, the depot at Topeka is the finest in the State. We understand the time table will be so changed next week, as to give our people four or five hours in Topeka and a chance to return the same day. Under that arrangement the local travel will, of course, be materially increased. From Carbondale on the Company have decided to put down the new "Fish-Clamp" rail, the same that the Missouri Pacific is now putting down. The new rail makes very smooth and safe riding, while the cost is but a small per cent greater than the old pattern. We think we can safely say that the road will be in Burlingame by the first day of September, and may be two or three weeks sooner.

By August 1 the Commonwealth was able to record that "track is laid three miles beyond Carbondale, and . . . the cars will soon be run to One Hundred and Ten [Mile creek], where there will be a passenger station."

Apparently the Gen. Burnside had not arrived in Kansas when the Topeka Commonwealth, August 21, 1869, reported on the road's rolling stock, its employees, finances, and other matters:

The A., T. & S. F. Railroad has been open for business since the 1st of July. Cars have been running to Carbondale, eighteen miles distant, since then. One engine, one passenger coach, one express and baggage car, and twelve flat cars comprise the rolling stock up to the present time. There are on the road hither, direct from the manufacturers, two engines, [11] two passenger coaches, twelve flat cars and twenty coal cars. The earnings of the road during the month of July were as follows:

From passengers, $939.20; from freight, $745.94. Total earnings, $1,685.14. The earnings for the month of August will be over three thousand dollars, and the Superintendent says they will continue to double for the next three months. There are seven employees on the road, as follows: Conductor, Wm. Hagan; Engineer, Geo. E. Beach; Fireman, Britt Craft; Brakemen, Wm. Bartling, Albert Dugan; Stage Agent, Geo. Draper; Express Messenger, J. Eager; News Boy, William Beach. We publish these details, minor as they may appear, for future reference. They will look curious a few years hence!

The officers of the A., T. & S. F. R. R. are fairly installed in their new quarters at the depot. This is the finest finished railroad depot in the State. It is situated in "Crane's Addition," between Fourth and Fifth streets, and the grounds belong[ing] to the depot were donated we believe, by Dr. [Franklin Loomis] Crane, who, as most everybody in the State knows, is one of the most liberal and public-spirited men we have. The whole size of the building is 78 X 30 feet. The north end of the building, which contains the officers' quarters and sitting rooms for passengers, is two stories high and twenty-eight by thirty feet on the ground. The first story is eleven feet high and the second ten feet. The building properly fronts to the north. There are two rooms in the front end which are sitting rooms for passengers. One is for ladies and the other for gentlemen. They are neatly painted and furnished with a liberal supply of comfortable easy chairs. These rooms are each fifteen by eighteen feet in size, and both communicate with the ticket agent's department, by the usual openings for the sale of tickets. The ticket agent's quarters are immediately south of the passenger sitting room, and comprise the remaining portion of the first story of the main building. In size the room is thirty by twelve feet. It is well furnished and everything in it is conveniently arranged. Here officiates. Mr. C. W. Hayes, the ticket agent. The ascent to the second story is made by a flight of stairs in a hall in the freight department. In the second story are three rooms and a hall, which latter leads to the paymaster's room at the end. On the right, is the Superintendent's room, and on the left the Engineer's. The Superintendent's room is twenty-six by fifteen feet in size, the Paymaster's is fourteen by fifteen feet, and the Engineer's is thirteen by eleven. The offices are all furnished with desks and implements of modern manufacture, and the finish on the building, outside and in, has been done with an eye to beauty as well as utility. T. J. Peter is Superintendent, M. L. Sargent, Paymaster, and E. S. Safford, Engineer. The freight and baggage department is in an ell to the main building, running southward, and is fifty by thirty feet in size. The story of this ell is very high. A platform about twelve feet in width has been erected on the east, north and west sides. The eaves of the main building project about four feet, and the eaves of the freight department project at least six feet. They are supported by handsome brackets. The door and window frames and the edge of the eaves are all tastefully, yet not ostentatiously, ornamented with moulding.

The Atchison Champion ten years later, on May 4, 1880, printed an interview with M. L. Sargent about that first office and early business on the line. The article was republished in D. W. Wilder's Annals of Kansas (1886):

It is rather interesting, in view of the present colossal proportions of the Santa Fe road, to sit down and talk with M. L. Sargent, now of the Central Branch and Missouri Pacific, and speak of the days when he first came west, and joined Col. T. J. Peter, at Topeka, in administration of the A. T. & S. F. At the time of the arrival of Mr. Sargent, the only furniture in the 'general office' was a pine table and two split-bottomed chairs; there were no books except a section boss's time-book, and Mr. Sargent brought with him the first regular set of books kept for the company. The financial management was, however, very easy for a long time. The road never had any income till it reach Carbondale, when it commenced to haul coal at $10 a car. Mr. Sargent, by stepping to the door and counting the coal cars brought in by the road's only daily train, could tell what were the total receipts of the company for the day.

Those early coal interests in Osage county were explored by the Topeka Commonwealth on August 21, 1869:

Carbondale, the new mining town on the A., T. & S. F. R. R., in the northern portion of Osage county, eighteen miles from Topeka, is improving. Five houses are in process of construction there, and more will soon be built. A track has been laid from the depot at this place to the mines now being opened, one mile and a half distant. The mining lands in this vicinity have been leased to Godfrey & Co., of Hannibal, Mo., for twenty-year years. This firm are the heaviest operators in coal there are in the West. They have mines in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. They have a contract for supplying the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company with coal for fifteen years. We are assured that there is enough coal at Carbondale to supply not only the Pacific Railroad, but also all Kansas. It is expected that coal will be delivered at Topeka at about twenty-two cents per bushel. The average price the year round heretofore has been about thirty-five cents. At one time last winter it was selling in our streets for seventy-five cents. We shall hope to never again be so distressed for the want of fuel as we were during a portion of last winter. The coal in the mines that are now being worked is about twenty-five feet below the surface. The vein is twenty-eight inches thick, and is a fair quality of bituminous coal. Thirty men are now at work at the mine, and thirty more will be added to the force ere long. A boarding house capable of accommodating sixty guests is being erected near the mines, for the benefit of the miners, and will be completed in a few days. The company will be able to turn out fifty cars of coal per day, when they are fairly ready for business.

Another three weeks and the Santa Fe was knocking at the gates of Burlingame. The Commonwealth, September 15, stated:

The A., T. & S. F. R. R. is graded to Burlingame. All the material is on hand to lay the track. The masonry is done and the ties distributed to Burlingame. Unless the rain delays the laying of the track it will be completed to Burlingame by next Friday night [September 17]. It is expected that Burlingame will then give a "blow out."

Editor Murdock, at least, lived up to the Commonwealth's expectations. In his Osage Chronicle of September 18, 1869, his rhetoric was something marvelous:

All hail! All Hail!

The Acme of All our Hopes!
Good Bye Ye Crazy
Cars of Burlingame at Last!
Hold Us, or We Bust.]

The world was made in six days, and the Cars ran into Burlingame today. Shades of ye mighty departed aboriginal bloods Bull-Tail, Blazing-Comet, Tadpole-Clawhow your names and deeds mystified before the bright scintillating refulgence of the fires of our glorious Iron-Horse, as he proudly swept across our corporate limits. Solemnly sighed the departed spirits of Sesostris, Rocinate, and [Henry] Tisdale's old stage horses, while old earth slowly careened in the direction of Emporia, changing her center of motion from the Poles to Burlingame and our antipodes. Six thousand years had she kept up the eternal round, but at last the Railroad reached Burlingame. Where stand the Pyramids, the Roman Acqeduct [aqueduct] and the Chinese Wall? Echo answers, "Nowhere." "Out of my sunshine," growled the cynic philosopher, as Alexa[n]der's shadow fell on him. St. Louis, Emporia, Topeka, move your stumps, for it is fit that the Nations Capital should come to the centre to Burlingame.

Rival papers, please "toot!"

Having arrived in Burlingame, the railroad apparently planned to push on, in spite of a financial scare on Wall street. The Atchison Daily Champion and Press, October 29, 1869, carried a welcome report:


A letter from Senator POMEROY, received yesterday, and dated New York, October 24th, informs us that the Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, at their meeting in New York on the previous day, authorized the letting of a contract to immediately build the Road from Atchison to Topeka. The letter further informs us that the contract was then being drawn, in accordance with the vote of the Directors, and would be duly signed and executed officially, at the office of the Company, the next day. The Company also voted to extend the Road from Burlingame to Emporia. Senator POMEROY says that in this matter Col. HOLLIDAY, Mr. LAKIN and others have rendered good service. He is satisfied that the Company intend rapid work, which will materially aid a large portion of the State, and greatly increase the general prosperity.

We are glad to record this glorious news. And it is glorious news for the whole State, but especially for Atchison, Topeka, and Emporia, and the country this great highway of commerce and travel traverses. So far as our city is concerned, the successful completion of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Road fixes its destiny. Atchison will be the "Great Railroad Centre of Kansas." The success of this Road insures the early completion of all others in which we are interested. The Nebraska Road, the Atchison, Oskaloosa and Lawrence Road, the extension of the Central Branch [of the Union Pacific] to Kearney all these will be secured in time. There is cause for rejoicing in this bright prospect for the future, and we know our citizens will receive this news with glad delight.

On November 17, 1869, the Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth reported that surveying on the Atchison route was nearly completed:


Mr. Peters, Superintendent of the Santa Fe Railroad, went out on Monday, in company with the party from Cincinnati, to look at the newly surveyed route to Atchison. The surveying party are on the route from Grasshopper Falls [now Valley Falls] to Topeka. They came into Topeka on Monday, and will probably finish the survey this week.

Thomas J. Peter kept the route between Kansas and the East hot as he traveled back and forth on railroad business. The Osage Chronicle, November 27, 1869, mentioned that after contracting for 30,000 ties from Lamb & Smith in Osage county Peter had gone East for the second time that month to buy rails for the road. Apparently he had not returned three weeks later when the Kansas Daily Commonwealth, December 19, reported:

A. T. & S. F. R. R.

D. L. Lakin, Esq., has just returned from his Eastern trip, and gives us an exceedingly gratifying report. Satisfactory arrangements have been made to secure the immediate building of this road to Emporia. Superintendent Peter will be here next week, and will at once put an additional force of hands at work on the road. The work will be prosecuted as vigorously as the weather will permit. There is no mistake about this information. The Company are "flush" and can command all the funds they desire. Emporia can safely count on being in direct communication with Topeka by the first of next June, at the farthest.

Work was, indeed, going on steadily and new hands were needed. The superintendent inserted this advertisement in the Kansas Daily Commonwealth beginning with the issue of December 31, 1869:

WANTED Laborers and teams on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Laborers, two dollarsTeams, three dollars and seventy-five cents per day. Board $4.50 per week.

Apply on the works, between Burlingame and Emporia.

T. J. PETER, Supt.

By the end of the month track had been laid to Dragoon creek, grading was completed to Salt creek and Emporia was still a June 1 target date. The station of Peterton was established on Smith creek while Osage City grew up on Salt creek. The Commonwealth, January 30, 1870, recorded that town's early history in this letter from a local correspondent:


Correspondence of The Commonwealth:   
OSAGE CITY, Jan. 21, 1870.

It falls to our lot to write up our baby metropolis and chronicle its progress. On the 5th day of December last past, the first load of lumber was deposited on the bare prairie, as the commencement for the beginning of the first house for Dr. J. H. Rosenberg, of Iowa. Now there are thirteen buildings up, ten occupied, and lumber on the ground for six more. "Think of that Master Brook." Well diggers are engaged in sinking a tank for the A., T. & S. F. R. R., and stone hauled for the foundation of the depot 38 X 70 feet.

The Carbon and Coal Mining Company of Missouri, whose headquarters are at Hannibal, are now making preparations to mine coal extensively not three miles away. But right here, and in time, the only real estate not mined will be that upon which the city stands. Our end of the coal field is the rich man's paradise and poor man's panacea in the prairie country. Coal fifteen cents per bushel only, and an abundant supply for the next thousand years. Who would live away from it and freeze over a water-elm fire.


Bothel & Rogers, wholesale and retail grocers; Elliott & Williamson, meat market; Franklin & Shuster, hardware and tinware; Dr. J. H. McCormack, physician and surgeon.


This is our heavy institution. Our motto"Retrenchment and reform," "Self-adjusting and self-sustaining." Our battle cry"Down with the frankers!" President Grant knew what he was about when he had us appointed postmaster. Our office is run on strictly "scientific principles." The books are all kept by "double entry," showing, in the most simple form, all paid in, all paid out, and postage stamps sold at cost, less the freight.

Everybody knows Playford's, who keeps the model drug store at Burlingame, well, Playford & Drew open up the same kind of establishment on Market street the coming weekdrugs, medicines, oils, dye-stuffs, soothing syrup, and

"Brushes and paint,
Fit for a Saint,
Or for a sign-post dauber."


is making preparations, and in a few days will turn you out any article composed of iron or steel, from a "knitting needle to an anchor," and will, upon short notice, and in a neat and workmanlike manner, shoe horses, mules and jack-rabbits.

A very clever man was going to put up for us a carding machine for next "clip." We think now we don't want it, because he would own it all himself. We learned at a neighboring town that the best way to manage this, is to get an "enabling act" done up at Topeka, and get $25,000 out of our newly imported citizens. This good act would enable us to operate the little factory ourself, which would be right, and just, and proper, because we are an "old settler." We always thought we could manage other people's money more economically than our own, and this is the way we will make the experiment:and a few more choice lots to give way to men who will erect houses upon them.


P.S.JAN. 24.Scandinavia struck us at half-past ten this morning like a "Nor-Wester." Resultten more houses inside of thirty days, and a few more choice lots to give away to good men and true.


Elsewhere in the same issue of the Commonwealth it was reported that

the site [of Osage City] is said to be eligible and healthy. A gentleman reports that not a death has occurred in the city yet, and no one has been born, although there is a good prospect. The new town has a hotel, a meat market, a blacksmith shop, and twelve or fifteen houses, besides several in the process of erection; yet the first house has been built within thirty days. As trains will stop there several weeks it will give the town a start. . .

By February 18 the Emporia News could report that the railroad was surveyed to that point and through the city on Third avenue. Less than a week later T. J. Peter asked for bids on laying the track to Emporia. His advertisement appeared in the Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth beginning on February 22:

NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS Sealed proposals will be received until 12 M., March 2d, at the office of the Superintendent of the A., T. & S. F. R. R. Co., for the laying, surfacing, and filling of their track from Dragoon creek to the town of Emporia, in accordance with the specifications on file in the office of the Superintendent.
The Company reserve the right to accept or reject any bid.


On March 11, 1870, the Commonwealth reported on the progress of the Santa Fe up to that point:


To the friends of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, we would state the following item as showing the enterprise of its officials. Last month the company paid out more than forty thousand dollars for material and labor. They mean business, and their intention is that the work shall continue, and the road be pushed forward rapidly towards Emporia. It is very probable it will reach that place by the first of June, if not sooner. A few days ago we recorded the fact that the directors were in the south-western part of the State, examining the different routes that have been surveyed. In a short time they will decide which route shall be selected for the continuation of the road from Emporia. They will consider carefully the advantages of each of the proposed routes and will select that, which in their opinion, is to the best interests of the State. This is one of the most enterprising railroad corporations in Kansas, which is saying much for it, as all acknowledge that this State surpasses all others in railroad enterprise.

Meanwhile, back in Atchison, local tempers were rising over the nonappearance of the Santa Fe in that city. The Topeka Kansas State Record, March 16, 1870, reported from first-hand information:


We visited our neighboring city of Atchison on Wednesday last [March 9] for the first time since October, 1868, and were agreeably disappointed with what we saw. We had got an impression, we hardly know how, that it was dead, no improvements going on, etc. Instead of this, we found more life, more business, more improvements than in any other place in the State except Topeka, and it is fully equal to us in all these things. Years ago we knew everybody in Atchison, but now we walked the length of Commercial street, and found that nearly all the faces we met were new ones. . . .

The Atchison people feel sore, and perhaps rightly, over the non-building of the Topeka road. They feel that they have not been justly dealt with in its not being already completed.

They say that if the A. T. & S. F. R. will not build it, that all they ask is for that company to get out of the way, and they will see that it is built within six months. They complain that the company will neither build the road, nor let any one else do it. We know nothing of the facts, but only state what we believe to be the general feeling in Atchison. That it is of more importance to Topeka to have this road built, than is generally supposed, we believe, and earnestly hope that measures will be taken soon to build it.

Most editors, and most Kansans, were proud of the railroad, its employees and its progress. The opinion expressed by Marsh Murdock in his Osage Chronicle, April 2, 1870, was typical:

THE A., T. & S. F. R. R.

A very large amount of railroad iron is in transit from Pittsburgh for the A., T. & S. F. R. R., sufficient to lay the track to Emporia and beyond. It is expected now in a few days, when it will go down as fast as it can be handled by men, not stopping for more than breath at either Osage City or the Marais des Cygnes. A new engine with eight foot drivers for a lightening express will be on this week. [12]

So far as built the above road is one of the best we ever traveled upon, and for smoothness is not approached to by any other line in Kansas or Missouri. Of course this speaks loudly for the men who have engineered the great enterprise. And right here. The favorite epithets for such enterprises and their founders are: "oppressive monopoly!" "soulless corporation!" We know nothing of this road's power of oppression or want of soul, but we do know that it has some as good men connected with it as can be met anywhere; men who neither lack soul, wisdom or generosity. Col. T. J. Peter, Gen. Supt.; W. W. Fagan, asst. Supt.; M. L. Seargeant [Sargent], Gen. Agent; Fred. Lord, Civil Engineer; Wm. Chapin, Conductor, are all men of whose acquaintance and friendship we are proud. They are all men who would disdain to violate a contract. Prompt in business and obliging, they win and hold the respect of all who are in any way connected with them. Mr. Peter while looking after the interests of the road is but a bundle of surprising energies and active brains. One day we pass the time of day with him and the next we hear he is in Cincinnati, New York, or among the Indians at the southern line of our State. He is one of the men so pecularily fitted to meet the wants and demands of a rapid developing State like Kansas.

May he never hold up until the A., T. & S. F. R. R. shall have become the southern route to the Pacific.

The arrival of locomotive No. 3 was recorded by the Commonwealth, April 22, 1870:

One hundred and twenty tons of rail have arrived for the A. T. & S. F. R. R., and more coming. We will ere long be in direct communication with Emporia and the Valley Road [the Union Pacific Southern Branch which on May 23, 1870, became the Missouri, Kansas & Texas line]. The "Dauntless," from the works at Taunton, Mass., has arrived for the road. She is a heavy freight engine, larger than any heretofore put on.

"The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad is pushing southward," stated the Commonwealth, May 20. "The cars reached Osage City Saturday [May 14, 1870]. Hereafter trains will run through to that place."

As the railroad approached Emporia, H. W. McCune, editor of the Emporia News, began to push for an appropriate celebration. In his issue of June 3, 1870, he said:

We learn from the Osage Chronicle that from four to ten cars on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, loaded with rails, pass through Burlingame daily, and that the track is stretching toward Emporia at the rate of a half mile per day. Is it not time to begin the work of preparation to celebrate its completion to Emporia? We move that a meeting be held for the appointment of necessary committees on Saturday evening of next week. Mr. Mayor, will you please put the motion?

While Emporia planned its celebration, some workers on the Santa Fe had more pressing things to think of, such as hostile Indians in the West. The Commonwealth, June 8, 1870, reported that the military had agreed to furnish troops to protect the line's surveying parties:

On application of Ex-Gov. [Samuel J.] Crawford, of Kansas, at the request of the Superintendent of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad, Gen. [John] Pope [commander of the Department of the Missouri] has furnished an escort of infantry to accompany the engineers while locating the above road. It is the intention of the company to run two lines: one from Fort Zarah, along the Arkansas Valley, to Ft. Dodge, and thence west and southwest to Fort Union, New Mexico; and the other from the Arkansas river, at or near Wichita, southwest to the Cimarron river, and thence in a westerly direction via Fort Union and Santa Fe.

Possibly because Emporia already had one railroad, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas which had arrived on December 7, 1869, the town and its newspaper did not immediately crow about the new arrival. Instead the News, July 22, 1870, was more concerned with the time schedule between Emporia and Topeka:


We are happy to announce that the track layers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad arrived here yesterday. The long looked-for time when we shall be the first point in the Neosho Valley, and have a junction of two roads, has come. Four trains a day will hereafter leave Emporia. We have only time to-day to announce the following time table on this road, which was received from Wm. W. Fagan, Esq., the Assistant Superintendent:

On and after Monday next, July 25th, trains on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad will run as follows:

Passenger train leaves Emporia at

8 a. m.

Arrives at Topeka at


Mixed train leaves at

1:50 p. m.

Arrives at Topeka at


Mixed train leaves Topeka at

7:35 a.m.

Arrives at Emporia at

12:35 p. m.

Passenger train leaves Topeka at

2:05 p.m.

Arrives at Emporia at


Passengers going east of Topeka will have an hour and forty minutes at Topeka before the departure of Kansas Pacific trains.

The Topeka Commonwealth, July 21, 1870, used the arrival at Emporia as an opportunity to press for the Atchison connection again:


The completion of this road to Emporia, about sixty miles in a southwesterly direction from Topeka, is announced, and through trains are expected to commence running next Monday. We rejoice, with the company and with Emporia, that another link in the railway system of the state is completed. The company did not begin its work at the terminal point named in its charter, but at Topeka, which is about midway between Atchison and Emporia, and since its completion to Burlingame, has not been of any benefit to this city, so far as our trade is concerned. What has been for a long time and is now earnestly desired, is that the company should build its road to Atchison immediately. It is our deliberate judgment that a road from this place to Atchison and there connecting with the Missouri Valley road, would do more business and pay better than the part already constructed. We want and must have competing lines of road to the east so as to compel a reduction of freights and hence lower the prices for goods and merchandise. The delay in building from Atchison here has worked injury to the company and made a good many people mad. Having now reached Emporia, we hope the company will next turn its attention to the northeastern end of the road and give us an outlet by way of Atchison within the coming year. . . .

(To Be Concluded in the Autumn, 1968, Issue)


JOSEPH W. SNELL and DON W. WILSON are members of the archives staff of the Kansas Historical Society.

1. "Cyrus K. Holliday Collection," manuscript division, Kansas Historical Society.
2. Private Laws of the Territory of Kansas, 1859, p. 58.
3. L. L. Waters, Steel Rails to Santa Fe (Lawrence, 1950), pp. 28, 29.
4. United States Statutes At Large (37th Cong., 3d Sess., 1862-1863), p. 772.
5. "Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Directors," Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe archives, Topeka.
6. Topeka Leader, January 16, 1868.
7. Waters, Steel Trails to Santa Fe, p. 34.
8. "Cyrus K. Holliday Collection." manuscript division, Kansas Historical Society.
9. The Cyrus K. Holliday was a second-hand 4-4-0 which had been built by the Niles Machine Works of Cincinnati, Ohio. Late a laborer on the Ohio and Mississippi railroad, it had to be converted from broad gauge (six feet) to standard. A coal burner, the Holliday was delivered by George Beach, who stayed with the Santa Fe and piloted many of the road's early runs.E. D. Worley, Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail (Dallas, 1965), pp. 18, 71.
10. The locomotive was actually purchased by Charles W. Pierce, treasurer of the railroad, from the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in Providence, about the middle of June, 1869. It was named Gen. Burnside after the Civil War general, Ambrose E. Burnside, who was governor of Rhode Island, an officer of the locomotive works which manufactured it, and a stockholder in the Santa Fe as well as in the construction company building the road. The engine, also a 4-4-0, cost $11,500.Letter from Pierce to T. J. Peter, June 20, 1869, in "Treasurer's Letter Books," Santa Fe archives.
11. Apparently the Commonwealth was in error for the Santa Fe's third locomotive was not built until 1870. The Gen. Burnside was probably delivered to the Santa Fe's representative, Allen Burroughs, on August 11, 1869. Burroughs then ran the locomotive to Topeka.Worley, Iron Horses, p. 19; C. W. Pierce to J. P. Mason, president of the Rhode Island Locomotive Works, August 10, 1869, in "Treasurer's Letter Books."
12. This engine was No. 3, a Taunton-built 4-4-0 named Dauntless.Statement of Performance of Locomotives an the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad, Showing Full Expenditures in Detail, for the Year Ending December 31, 1877, Santa Fe archives; also reproduced in Worley, Iron Horses, pp. 18, 19.