History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Railroads of Kansas - Page 3

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Kansas Freight trainCharles Robinson, James H. Lane, M. J. Parrott, J. P. Root and their associates asked for and received a charter for a company to be known as the Missouri River Railroad Company, which was authorized to build a road from the Missouri River near the mouth of the Kansas River to the line between Kansas and Nebraska near Roy's Ferry, via Leavenworth and Palermo. The capital stock authorized by the charter was $500,000.

The act of 1857 chartering the St. Joseph & Topeka Company was amended so that the company might increase its capital stock to $5,000,000 and extend its line from Topeka "to such point on the southern or western boundary of said territory, in the direction of
Santa Fe, New Mexico, as may be most suitable and convenient for the construction of said railroad." Authority was also granted by the supplemental act to construct a branch of said road to any point on the southern boundary of Kansas in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico.


Charles Robinson, M. J. Parrott and Robert Crozier were the incorporators of the St. Joseph, Sumner & Lawrence Railroad Company, with a capital of $2,000,000, and Parrott, Crozier and George S. Hillyer received a charter to build the Sumner, Manhattan & Fort Riley railroad, with the same rights and privileges as the St. Joseph, Sumner & Lawrence Company.

Cyrus K. Holliday, W. F. M. Arny, R. B. Mitchell, George W. Deitzler and W. A. Phillips obtained a charter to build the Topeka & Emporia railroad. The capital stock of the company was fixed at $3,000,000, and the right of way was designated as a strip of land 200 feet in width.

The Wyandotte, Minneola & Council Grove railroad was incorporated with a capital stock of $5,000,000, to build a road from Quindaro via Wyandotte, Olathe and Minneola to Council Grove, with the privilege of extending the line to the western boundary of the territory. The incorporators included Alfred Gray, George S. Park, J. P. Root and James M. Winchell.

Only four railroad companies were chartered by the legislature of 1859 -- the Atchison & Pike's Peak, the Lawrence & Fort Union, the Wyandotte & Osawatomie, and the Atchison & Topeka. The last named deserves more than passing mention, because it was the forerunner of the
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway system. Its incorporators were Cyrus K. Holliday, S. C. Pomeroy, P. T. Abell, L. C. Challis, M. C. Dickey, Asaph Allen, Samuel Dickson, N. L. Gordon, George S. Hillyer, L. D. Bird, Jeremiah Murphy, George H. Fairchild and R. L. Crane. The original capital stock was $1,500,000, with the privilege of increasing the same from time to time, provided the increase should never exceed the amount already expended in the construction of a railroad from Atchison to Topeka, "and to the southern or western boundary in the direction of Santa Fe."


Ten railroad companies were incorporated by the territorial legislature of 1860. Some of the preceding legislatures had created a larger number of these corporations, but none had been quite as liberal in the matter of capital stock. Following is a list of the companies chartered by this session, with the capital stock of each: Fort Scott, Neosho & Santa Fe, $10,000,000; Iowa Point & Denver City, $2,000,000; Leavenworth City & San Francisco, $100,000,000; Marysville & Denver, $5,000,000; Missouri River (from Wyandotte to White Cloud via Iowa Point), $2,000,000; Olathe & Southern Kansas, $3,000,000; Southern Kansas Pacific, $5,000,000; State Line, Osawatomie & Fort Union, $5,000,000; Troy & Iowa Point, $1,000,000; Topeka & Southern Kansas, amount of stock not fixed by the act of incorporation. This legislature also passed acts amending the charters of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Fort Gibson, and the Wyandotte & Osawatomie roads.  


Some of the incorporators of railroad companies during the territorial era were earnest in their efforts and sincere in their desires to secure railroads for Kansas. Others, and probably the majority, were actuated by motives of speculation. Recognizing the future possibilities of railroad building in the development of the West, they hurried to acquire charter rights through legislative enactments in the hope that, in the event they were unable to finance and construct the roads themselves, they could sell their franchises for handsome profits to companies financially able to carry out the original purposes of the charters. Nor was this condition peculiar to Kansas. During the quarter of a century prior to the Civil War, as civilization and settlement extended westward, practically every state west of New York was at some time afflicted with the craze for chartering railroad companies.




Coaling station in western KansasThe convention met at Topeka on October 17, with about 125 delegates present, representing 20 counties of the territory. W.Y. Roberts was elected to preside. Among the vice-presidents were Charles Robinson, Samuel Medary, Thomas Ewing, Jr., P. T. Abell and W. F. M. Arny, and the secretaries were John A. Martin, J. F. Cummings and C. F. de Vivaldi. The principal work of the convention was the adoption of a resolution to the effect that a petition be presented to Congress asking an appropriation of public lands to aid in the construction of railroads in Kansas as follows:

  • A railroad from the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the Osage Valley & Southern Kansas railroad terminates, westwardly via Emporia, Fremont and Council Grove, to the Fort Riley Military Reservation.

  •  A railroad from the city of Wyandotte (connecting with the Pacific Railroad) up the Kansas Valley via Lawrence, Lecompton, Tecumseh, Topeka, Manhattan and the Fort Riley Military Reservation to the western boundary of the territory.

  •  A railroad from Lawrence to the southern boundary of Kansas, in the direction of Fort Gibson, Oklahoma and Galveston Bay.

  • A railroad from Atchison, via Topeka, through the territory in the direction of Santa Fe.

  • A railroad from Atchison to the western boundary of Kansas.


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