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Railroads of Kansas - Page 5

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Railroad Bridge across the Republican RiverThe Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf started from Kansas City and ran to the southern boundary of the state, a distance of 161 miles. It received a grant of 125,000 acres of land from the state; some 1,500 acres from individuals and town companies, and subsidies amounting to $750,000 in county and city bonds. This road and the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston were known as the "Joy roads," for the reason that James F. Joy purchased the Cherokee Neutral Lands, of which about 3,000,000 acres were sold at an average price of $6.50 an acre for the benefit of the road.


In 1870 there were in Kansas 1,283 miles of railroad, the greater portion of which had been constructed during the three years immediately preceding.


Ten years later the mileage reached 3,104, the year 1879 being the greatest railroad year in the history of the state. The Kansas Monthly for November of that year gives the following lines, either finished or almost finished, that were built during the year: Kansas Pacific branches from Salina to Lindsborg, Junction City to Concordia, and from Minneapolis to Beloit;  Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad branches from Emporia to Eureka, Florence to McPherson, and Wichita to Arkansas City; the Union Pacific extended the main line to Kirwin, Phillips county; and built branches to Osborne City and Jewell Center, and a line from Concordia to Scandia; the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf extended its line from Baxter Springs to Joplin, Missouri, via Empire City; the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern constructed its line from Independence to Winfield; the St. Louis & San Francisco extended its line from Wichita via Cherryvale and Fredonia; the road from Holden, Missouri, to Paola was extended beyond Garnett; and a line was built from Osawatomie to Ottawa; the Lawrence & Southwestern was engaged in running a line from Lawrence to Carbondale; a narrow gauge road was built from Parsons to Weir City, and surveys were under way for other roads. Altogether, 498 miles of track were laid in Kansas during the year, giving the state the first place in railroad construction, Minnesota standing second with 349 miles. Another piece of railroad, not included in the magazine article quoted, was the completion of the Central Branch to Cawker City.

Of the Missouri Pacific Railroad system, which next to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad operates the greatest number of miles in Kansas, the railroad commissioners' report for 1910 says: "The
Missouri Pacific Railway Company was organized by articles of agreement and consolidation dated May 29, 1909, filed in the office of the secretaries of the states of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, Aug. 9, 1909. It was organized under the general railroad laws of the states of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska." The report then goes on to give a list of the constituent companies forming the consolidation, some twenty-five in number. This company operates in Kansas 2,379 miles of road.


The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific system, which operates 1,166 miles in Kansas, had its origin in the old Mississippi & Missouri railroad, which was incorporated under the laws of Iowa on Jan. 1, 1853. The present Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Company was organized on June 2, 1880, under the laws of Illinois and Iowa. Its lines extend over the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.


The Interstate Commerce Commission, in its statistical report for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1909, gives the railroad mileage for Kansas as 8,947.09 miles. Since that report was issued a few miles have been constructed and placed in operation.


The state railroad commission in its biennial report for 1909-10 reported 11,272 miles, which included both main lines and side tracks. Of the mileage reported by the Interstate Commerce Commission the four great systems -- the   Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, the Union Pacific, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and the Missouri Pacific -- operate 7,370 miles, leaving less than 2,000 miles of main line to be operated by the smaller railway companies. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system has 260 miles within the state; the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, 441 miles; the St. Louis & San Francisco, 370 miles; the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis, 259 miles; the St. Joseph & Grand Island, 145 miles; and the remaining mileage is under the control of a few independent and terminal companies.




Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad between Marceline, Mo and Argentine, Ks, Jack Delano, 1843Concerning government aid extended to Kansas railroads, Poor's Manual of Railroads for 1873 gave the following acreage of the land grants made to seven of the leading companies: Kansas Pacific, 6,000,000; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 3,000,000; Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf, 2,350,000; St. Joseph & Denver, 1,700,000; Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, 1,520,000; Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston, 800,000; Union Pacific (Southern Branch), 500,000; Union Pacific (Central Branch), 245,166, making a total of 16,115,166 acres.


The Kansas Legislature in 1866 gave to certain railroad companies 500,000 acres of land granted to the state under the act of September 4, 1841. These companies were the Northern Kansas (Elwood to Marysville), Kansas & Neosho Valley, Southern Branch of the Union Pacific, and the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Fort Gibson.

In addition to these grants, large tracts of land were purchased by railroad companies at low prices. In Oct., 1867, the Cherokee Neutral Lands were sold to James F. Joy for $1.00 an acre. When the Atchison & Pike's Peak railroad reached Waterville in January, 1868, the company received a grant of 187,608 acres of land and bonds amounting to $16,000 a mile, and the same company purchased 24,000 acres of the Kickapoo lands at $1.25 an acre. In May, 1868, the Osage Indians sold 8,000,000 acres of their lands to the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Company at 20 cents an acre, and in August of the same year the  
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad bought 338,766 acres of the Pottawatomie lands. Wilder's Annals of Kansas said the railroad land grants in Kansas equaled 8,223,380 acres. This does not agree with Poor's figures, and it may be possible that the latter included in his estimate some of the low-priced purchases above mentioned.

The Kansas Pacific received in bonds from the national government the sum of $6,303,000, and the Central Branch received $1,600,000. Immediately after the war, when railroad building was making rapid strides in the West, the Federal government guaranteed bonds for railroad companies amounting to $27,806,000, a large part of which was for the benefit of Kansas lines. In addition to this national assistance, counties, cities, townships and towns voted bonds in large amounts to aid in the construction of the roads.

Many of the railroad companies did not perfect the title to their lands as required by the terms of the grant, and in 1882 a convention at Salina, Kansas demanded of Congress speedy legislation to compel the Kansas Pacific to complete its title. On March 6, 1883, the state legislature passed an act authorizing the state agent (ex-Governor Samuel J. Crawford) to investigate and secure a proper adjustment of certain railroad land grants. Two days later Colonel Crawford filed a brief and petition for the restoration to the state of lands wrongfully withheld. In April, John A. Anderson, then a representative in Congress from Kansas, made a report from the Committee on Public Lands, in which he estimated the number of acres of Kansas lands granted to railroad companies at 9,407,066, of which only 5,412,411 acres had been patented on June 30, 1883. Anderson introduced a bill to compel the railroad companies to perfect their title to the lands, and many of them hastened to do so, but in his report to the governor in 1890 Colonel Crawford announced that he had recovered a large portion of the original land grants, the largest being from the
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad -- 833,900 acres from near Kinsley to the west line of the state.



Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.



Also See:


Railroad Companies of Kansas




About the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these page is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.




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