St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railway

St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad Company Stock Certificate.

St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad Company Stock Certificate.

The St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railway, a subsidiary of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, was chartered on February 23, 1880, to run 158 miles between Fort Scott, Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas. The main line opened to Eureka, Kansas, 100 miles from Fort Scott on July 22, 1881. It was extended 28 miles to Eldorado in 1882 and an additional 30 miles to Wichita in 1883.

The initial route ran from:

Fort Scott, Marmaton, Redfield, Uniontown, and Bronson in Bourbon County to,

Morantown, Hendricks, Iola, in Allen County, to,

Piqua, Yates Center, and Toronto in Woodson County, to,

Fame, Neal , and Eureka in Greenwood County, to,

Rosalia, Pontiac, El Dorado, Towanda, and Benton, in Butler County, to,

Wichita in Sedgwick County.

Thursday, April 23, 1885, freight engine No. 3 of the St. Louis, Ft. Scott, and Wichita Railroad went through the Ninnescah River bridge a mile southwest of Clearwater into the flood waters at 4:00 a.m. On board were John McDaniel, engineer, William Strode, fireman, and James Knightley, brakeman. They moved fearlessly upon the bridge, and when about the center, it gave way, and the engine and tank plunged headlong into the foaming stream. The cause of the accident was that the flood had washed away the center bent of the bridge, leaving the stringers in place, which held up the cross ties and track. However, In the darkness, it was impossible to see anything wrong. After sinking beneath 20 feet of water, the cab, with Strode and Knightley, rose to the surface and was whirled down in the raging current. Though they nearly drowned, they were rescued the next morning. However, John McDaniel, the engineer, was never found and was presumed to have drowned.

In the spring of 1886, the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad began building a line northwest of El Dorado.  By summer, the tracks had reached Newton, and the line was completed on November 19, 1886, to McPherson. This 62-mile railroad became a part of the Missouri Pacific Line with stations east of El Dorado and in El Dorado.  Additional stations were in Butler County at Oil Hill, Hopkins, Potwin, Brainerd, and Whitewater. In Harvey County, stations were in Annelly, McLain, Newton, Zimmerdale, and Hesston, each having a Missouri Pacific Depot.

In the following years, the Missouri Pacific Railroad absorbed all St. Louis, Ft. Scott, and Wichita Railroad tracks.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, May 2024.

Also See:

Kansas History

Kansas Railroads

Kansas Transportation History

Railroad Companies of Kansas


1884 Train Report of the St. Louis, Fort Scott & Wichita Railroad, Kansas by J.W. Miller VP
Abandoned Rails
Harvey County Historical Museum
Lost History
Railway Preservation News
The Topeka Daily Capital, Topeka, Kansas, Friday, Apr 24, 1885.