Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]


CHAPTER XXXVII.

RAILROAD BUILDING IN KANSAS.

Part 1


FIRST RAILROADS CHARTERED - THE ATCHISON TEN YEARS IN BUILDING - THE GRANGER LINES - PACIFIC LINES - THE SANTA FE SYSTEM - THE "JOY ROADS" - THE "KATY" SYSTEM - THE "FRISCO" BUILT - FIRST RAILROADS STARTED FROM WYANDOTTE - WHEN THE "K. P." REACHED LAWRENCE - ASSASSINATION OF HALLETT - HALLETT'S VISIT TO PRESIDENT LINCOLN - EASTERN CAPITALISTS INTERESTED - HALLETT A RAILWAY GENIUS - FIRST COUNTY GRANT TO THE MISSOURI PACIFIC - BUILDING THE SANTA FE - WHEN THE MEMPHIS WAS BUILT - THE NORTHWESTERN - WHEN THE ROCK ISLAND CAME - THE CHICAGO-GREAT WESTERN - RAILROAD VALUES AND TRACKAGE - GREAT RAILWAY SHOPS AND TERMINALS - THE GREAT STILWELL ENTERPRISE.

The great overland trails, over which supplies, brought up the Missouri river by steamboats, were taken by wagon trains to the Indians, trappers, cowboys and the settlers between the Missouri river and the Pacific coast, usually sought the divides between the water courses. The divide between the Kansas river and the Osage and Arkansas rivers was followed by the Santa Fe trail; the Oregon trail was along the divide between the Kansas and the Platte rivers; while the Military road, from Ft. Leavenworth to Ft. Scott and southern points, followed the high ground down through Wyandotte county and, crossing the Kansas river, pursued its way southward. But these same rivers formed a water-level for the railroads that pushed their way out towards the Pacific coast and to the north and south.

Thus it is not difficult to understand how the meeting place of the Kansas and Missouri rivers also became the junction for the great lines of railroad that have been constructed through the demands of commerce and of civilization. As evidence of this, the Union Pacific, the various lines of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific and those of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe follow the Kansas river valley from Kansas City, Kansas, out through Kansas and thence to the Pacific coast, or to the Gulf, or down into old Mexico. The Missouri Pacific, with its many lines, pursues its way from Kansas City, Kansas, along the Missouri river to the east, the north, the northwest, the south and the southeast, with a main line west to the coast; while the Kansas City, Ft. Scott and Memphis (now a part of the Frisco system) and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas, strike out through Rosedale, Wyandotte county, to the south, the southeast and the southwest.

This shows that nature had much to do with the making of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, as great centers for the railroads of Kansas meeting here the railroads of Missouri, embracing now seventeen different systems and nearly forty separate lines.

THE FIRST RAILROADS CHARTERED.

The first railway project to materialize in the territories, of Kansas and Nebraska was that of the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western, chartered by the legislature of the territory of Kansas in 1855. The plan was to construct a road from Leavenworth to the western boundary of the territory, and thence to the summit of the Rocky mountains, in the present state of Colorado. It was one of five charters to railway corporations at that session, and with a single exception was the only one that materialized to the extent of actual construction. In 1857 the company was organized at Leavenworth, Kansas, with a capital of $156,000 subscribed.

In May, 1857, grading on the line was commenced and its location completed to Pawnee, on the site of the present Fort Riley military reservation. Little further was done, however, until after the act of Congress of July 1, 1862, granting government aid to the construction of a Pacific railroad and telegraph line, One clause of the act authorized the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western to build a line from Wyandotte, at the mouth of the Kansas river (the terminus of the Pacific Railroad of Missouri) to some point on the one hundredth meridian. In the following year the Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division, was organized under the act of 1862, and it purchased the franchises and all rights of the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western. From this time the road became a part of the general Pacific Railroad project, and was pushed forward as a part of it.

THE ATCHISON TEN YEARS IN BUILDING.

In the meantime, the Kansas territorial legislature had chartered another road, the St. Joseph & Topeka, projected from the Missouri river, opposite St. Joseph, to Topeka, Kansas. The charter lapsed without an actual construction, however, and a new project, in substance the same, resulted in the incorporation of the Atchison & Topeka Railroad Company, February 11, 1859. The same men were back of the new road, and the only material change was that of the eastern terminus.

Droughts and the Civil war combined to discourage the promoters, however, and nothing was actually done toward constructing the line until the congressional land grant to the state of Kansas for the purpose of encouraging railway construction opened the way to the needed aid. The grant was made available to the Atchison & Topeka Company in 1864, to the extent of a grant of 6,400 acres of land per mile of road actually built in the state, conditioned on its completion to the western boundary of the state within ten years. The name of the corporation had, in the meantime, been changed to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company, and the road was projected in the general direction of the old Santa Fe trail toward Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The promoters of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe had little ready money at their disposal, however, and as it was almost impossible to realize on their land grant at that time, the road was not actually built until after both Kansas and Nebraska had been spanned from east to west by the Union Pacific Company under its charter of July 1, 1862.

THE GRANGER LINES.

From 1855 to 1860 was a period of great railway activity west of the Mississippi, the Granger lines being engaged in pushing out for western traffic just then. It was these projects, between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, that offered the inducement for the building of the Kansas and Nebraska lines. At this time there were several lines already mentioned, building westward besides the Hannibal & St. Joseph. The Pacific Railroad Company of Missouri was building westward from St. Louis toward Kansas City, which it reached in 1865.

Two lines, the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska and the Cedar Rapids & Missouri, were building across Iowa, with Omaha as the objective point. Those roads were a part of a single project, to connect the Mississippi and Missouri rivers at Fulton, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska. The roads were leased to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, and were under its control when the Cedar Rapids & Missouri reached Omaha in 1866. In the same year the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific purchased the rights of the Mississippi & Missouri River Railroad, which was building toward Council Bluffs, Iowa, and in 1869 completed the road into that city. The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was headed for the mouth of the Platte river at the same time, and still another road, the Dubuque & Pacific, now a part of the Illinois Central system, was building toward Sioux City. This line was opened in 1866.

THE PACIFIC LINES.

The idea of the Pacific railroad had been before the country for several years, and the secession of the southern states removed the block on the part of those desiring a southern route, making the location of the line, in 1862, a simple matter. With the added necessity of making the most of its western resources and the original impetus of the Pacific railroad project, the government loaned its credit and offered large land subsidies to assist the transcontinental line. Everything that could be done to hasten the building of the road was offered by the provisions of the charter.

According to the charter provisions, three lines were to be built westward from the Missouri river - one from Omaha, Nebraska, opposite Council Bluffs, Iowa; one from Atchison, Kansas, the terminus of the extended Hannibal & St. Joseph; and one from Kansas City (Wyandotte, as the town was then called on the Kansas side of the line). These were to unite at the one hundredth meridian, and thence the line was to be extended to the Pacific coast, a total distance of more than 1,700 miles. In order to secure the speedy building of the line, the generous subsidies granted by the government were conditioned upon the completion of the road to the coast by July 1, 1876. The subsidies, the largest ever granted a railway company (with the exception of the Northern Pacific), consisted of loans of government bonds at the rate of $16,000 per mile on the level plains, with an allowance of twice that amount in the plateau regions, and three times as much for the worst of the Rockies. In addition there was a grant of twenty sections of land per mile for the whole distance.

A RACE TO THE COAST.

With the inducements of these conditional grants before them the promoters of the company began construction in 1865. Ready money was scarce, and hard to secure, however. Only about one-tenth of the authorized two millions of capital was paid in, and for a time it looked as if the grants were to be lost for the want of funds to build the road. On March 15, 1865, the construction was sublet to the famous Credit Mobilier Company of America, and the work of construction was then pushed forward with unheard of rapidity. The construction of the western end of the road was turned over to the Central Pacific, with the same subsidies and with the privileges of building eastward until a junction was made with the westward construction of the Union Pacific. Within two years there were 559 miles of track completed on the eastern end, and a part of the line (Kansas Pacific) was in operation. Both ends of the line strove to get as large a share as possible of the subsidies. The completed line from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean was flnally opened six years ahead of time, when the two construction companies met at Promontory Point, west of Ogden, Utah, in April, 1869.

The junction at the one-hundredth meridian was waived by act of congress, and the Kansas Pacific, ending at Denver, in 1870 built a connecting line, the Denver & Pacific, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. In the meantime, the Central Branch was built westward 100 miles from Atchison, stopping in the open prairies at Waterville, solely for the purpose of securing the government subsidy. In 1880 the three lines were consolidated in management and united in name, having more than 1,800 miles, exclusive of the tracks of the Central Pacific west of Ogden, Utah. The capitalization of the company had in the meantime (1870) increased to the following amounts: Capital stock, $36,762,300; first mortgage bonds, $27,231,000; land grant bonds, $10,400,000; income bonds, $9,355,000. The cost of construction averaged about $60,000 per mile for the whole road, aggregating about two-thirds the amount of the capital.

THE SANTA FE SYSTEM.

The next railway in point both of time and importance was the Santa Fe, which was the outgrowth of the old Atchison & Topeka Railroad already referred to, and which has been one of the great factors in the development of Kansas, for a long time its principal field as well as its home. When the charter was extended, in 1863, the first move was the securing of a government land-grant (through the state of Kansas), but the promoters were unable to get any cash or bond subsidies, and the actual construction was delayed until after the Civil war. In 1869 less than thirty miles were built westward from Topeka, and in the following year the line was extended to Emporia, about sixty miles from Topeka, and it was not until 1872 that the line was finished to its eastern outlet at Atchison. Ten months before the expiration of the ten-year period allowed by the terms of their land grant, only 136 miles of the line was in operation, and there were 380 miles to be built to the western boundary of the state. The builders then began to emulate the performance of the Union Pacific four years earlier, and the road was pushed forward to the state line two months ahead of contract time. The gift of 3,000,000 acres of land in the state of Kansas was thus secured. The panic of 1873 came on just at this crisis, and work on the new road was suspended entirely for a couple of years, when the western terminus was extended to Pueblo, Colorado, in order to secure enough western business to pay operating expenses on that end of the line.

The Santa Fe was soon compelled to build farther west, however, in order to live at all, for there was practically no business on two-thirds of its line. Ten years later it reached the coast, partly by construction and partly by purchase, touching at both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The later development included the opening of a line to Galveston, Texas, in 1887, by lease and construction, and the extension to Chicago in 1888. The later period of the growth of the road was also marked by the acquisition of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern, opened in 1870 as the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad, which was operating nearly 200 miles of line in the eastern part of the state in 1872. This line was one of those that followed on the heels of the Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, and was obliged to content itself with what aid it was able to secure from the state and from the counties which it traversed. The Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston secured something over a million dollars of municipal bonds, and the grant of 125,000 acres of land from the state, and with this assistance put the road in operation.

THE "JOY ROADS."

The next road, in point of time, was built by the same group of men that put the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston into operation, and was called the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf. The two roads were known to early Kansas history as the "Joy Roads," at least until the sale of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston to the Santa Fe. The Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf was organized in 1868 for the purpose of facilitating the development of the southeastern part of the state, and received aid from the state of Kansas in the shape of a grant of 125,000 acres of land, or a little more than 830 acres per mile of track. Baxter Springs, Kansas, on the southern line of the state, was the end on the road as originally completed in 1870, giving it a total length of 161 miles, with Kansas City as its other terminus. The promoters had the intention of ultimately building southward to some then indeterminate point, but it was not for some time that it was finally connected with Memphis, on the Mississippi river. In addition to the aid that the state gave in the shape of the grant of land, the cities and towns along the line of the survey donated bonds aggregating $750,000, or more than $4,600 per mile. The road was of considerable importance in relation to the manufacturing interests of the country, in that it was the first to reach the coal belt of the state, and in the first year of operation some 2,000 cars of coal were shipped to Kansas City for distribution, from the surface deposits of coal in the vicinity of Fort Scott. When the coal fields of the Pittsburg district were opened in the later seventies, the road, now known as the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf was already in operation, and put the coal on the market as fast as the field was developed.

THE "KATY" SYSTEM.

In the same year that the Joy interests began grading for their line to the gulf, work was commenced on still another road, to extend from Junction City, Kansas, on the Kansas Pacific, to Forth Smith, in the Indian Territory, a distance of about 180 miles according to the original project. The road, though called the "Union Pacific, Southern Branch Railway," was independent of the Pacific system, and got no aid from the government, though it did succeed in obtaining a grant of 125,000 acres of land from the state, and an aggregate of $730,000 in bonds from the counties through which it passed. The line was completed across the state in 1871, but, beginning nowhere and ending in the same manner, it was found necessary to make some sort of extension as soon as possible. Accordingly, in the same year that the road was completed, some smaller lines in the eastern part of the state were acquired, the plans perfected for a connection with St. Louis and with the Gulf on the south, and the name of the road changed to "The Missouri, Kansas & Texas." In 1872 the "Katy" purchased lines connecting Paola, Kansas, its eastern point, with St. Louis and Hannibal, Missouri, and in the same year extended the southern end of its road through the Indian Territory to the Texas line, a conditional grant of three and one-half million acres of Indian lands having been secured in the meantime from the government.

In the later seventies the road had nearly 800 miles of track in operation, and early in 1880 it was acquired by the late Jay Gould and his interests. Gould at that time was in control of the Pacific Railroad of Missouri, referred to above, and he put the two roads loosely under one management and set about extending their lines in Kansas under the name of the Missouri Pacific, to compete with the Santa Fe lines. The union of the roads did not last long, but, while it did, Gould succeeded in unloading his branch lines at fancy prices, and when the "Katy" resumed its old name and separate existence, eight years later, it had doubled in mileage in the four states that it penetrated.

THE "FRISCO" BUILT.

In the year 1871 another railway entered this section, this time building into it from the east. It was the St. Louis & San Francisco, originally projected as a branch of the Missouri Pacific in 1866. It began a separate existence in 1876, having in the meantime been extended to Vinita, in the northeastern part of the Indian Territory, by the aid of a grant of a little over a million acres of land from the government. The road became especially important a little later when the lead and zinc mines were developed in the Joplin district, which it traversed, and still later as the development of the coal field was pushed southward into the Indian territory.

One of the most remarkable features of the growth of American railways is the building of the roads in the Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma region that has just been outlined. There were in the three states, according to "Poor's Manual," 2,306 miles of railway in 1870, and in 1875 there were 3,592 miles. Very little construction was done for four or five years following the panic of 1873, but work was resumed with a will in the two years preceding Poor's report for 1880; and in that year there were 5,632 miles in operation.

It is hardly profitable in this connection to pursue the development further, for later than this time it becomes a matter of extension for the sake of competing for business, rather than for the securing of the subsidies offered, as in the case of the early roads. It is sufficient to say that by 1890 the principal work of railroad building was completed in this section, there being in all more than 15,000 miles in operation at that time.

FIRST RAILROADS STARTED FROM WYANDOTTE.

The agitation for the building of railroads in Kansas began at Quindaro and Wyandotte in the fifties, and the first railway promoters from the outside were keen enough to see the advantage of that locality, where the Kansas and the Missouri valleys meet, as the natural transcontinental terminal.

When Quindaro was at the height of its growth, in the summer of 1857, the Quindaro, Parkville & Burlington Railroad, to connect Quindaro with. the Hannibal & St. Joe, was a subject much broached; but the first actual survey of a road in the county was made from Quindaro to Lawrence, under the charter of the Missouri River & Rocky Mountain Railroad. The first actual grading for a road was done at Wyandotte, on the Kansas Valley line, in 1859. James R. Parr, then mayor of the city, was a prime mover in the enterprise. The grade was about twenty feet higher than the present roadbed of the Kansas Pacific. Before this road was put in operation, in 1863, a number of territorial thoroughfares had been established, under the act approved in February, 1859. In June, one was located from Wyandotte, via Quindaro, Leavenworth and Atchison, to Elwood, Doniphan county: the Santa Fe road in this county in October, 1859; and the road from Quindaro to Salina, via Lawrence and Topeka (fifteen miles in Wyandotte county), in August, 1859. During the next summer the Shawnee & Kansas City, or State Line road, was also repaired, straightened and regulated. Besides this activity manifested in obtaining good means of communication with their neighbors, the people of Wyandotte county put their hands in their pockets, as private individuals, and helped along the good work.

FIRST LOCOMOTIVE IN KANSAS.

There were other "movements," too, and it so happened that the first mile of iron placed on a roadbed in Kansas was at Elwood on the Elwood & Maryville Railroad, in April, 1860; also it is recorded that the first locomotive to touch Kansas soil was ferried across the river from St. Joseph and placed on the track at Elwood. But, whatever may have happened to this project, it remains an historical fact that the first trains to run on real rails ran out the Kansas river valley from Wyandotte.

In congress, in 1856-8, when the bill for a transcontinental road was up, it provided a Missouri river terminal at Leavenworth. But Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, a man of great influence at that time in national affairs, insisted that the terminal be changed to the mouth of the Kansas river. His argument was convincing and that is how it came about that this place was chosen as the starting point of the railroads that were to penetrate the western country.

EARLIEST RAILROADS.

In 1863 a steamboat landed at Wyandotte the first equipment for building the Kansas Pacific Railroad west from this point, and a locomotive. A depot was built in Wyandotte, near the foot of Minnesota avenue, and in November, 1864, the first passenger train was run to Lawrence, Kansas. At this time a pontoon bridge was built by the company and the United States government across the Kansas river, over which passengers and baggage were transferred to the steamboats at the Kansas City landing, to the terminal depot of the then new Missouri Pacific Railroad, at the foot of Grand avenue, and the hotels and various sections of Kansas City, Missouri. This pontoon affair was the first wagon and foot bridge thrown across the Kansas river at Kansas City, and over it the troops crossed to fight the battle of Westport during Price's last raid. The bridge lasted but a few months, when it was swept away by a rise in the river. For a short time a ferry was used for transfer purposes; then a new railroad built a spur from Armstrong, and a bridge which carried its rails over the river to a junction with the Missouri Pacific at the state line, where, in 1867, both roads joined in the erection of a hotel and station house known as the State Line House. About the same time the Kansas Pacific established general offices within the building which now stands at the northwest corner of Sixth and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, and continued its occupation until 1881, when the road was consolidated with the Union Pacific. These were the first general railway offices here.

WHEN THE "K. P." REACHED LAWRENCE.

On the completion of the first forty miles of the Kansas Pacific, an excursion was run from Wyandotte to Lawrence. The following letter of invitation, one of which is in possession of V. J. Lane of Wyandotte, was sent out:

"Dear Sir: - The government of the United States a little more than a year ago, with a wisdom looking far beyond the burdens and anxieties of the hour, provided aid for the construction of a railroad from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean. Stimulated by its liberality and by the spirit of American enterprise, the work has been undertaken, and already the first section of forty miles is nearing completion. The opening of this section - giving earnest to the people of the country that within the time prescribed by law the great highway will be built to San Francisco, bringing into closer union the states of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and offering to the industrial enterprises of our people the incalculable wealth of a continent - is an event worthy of commemoration by the leading men of America. You are respectfully invited to attend the celebration, and will be received by the committee if arrangements at Weston, Missouri, in the 18th day of August next, on the arrival of the morning train from the east. Upon the receipt from you of an acceptance of this invitation, addressed to me at No. 58 Beaver street, New York, you will be furnished with a free pass to Kansas and return, good over all the principal intermediate roads.

Faithfully yours,
      "SAMUEL HALLETT."

The accompanying card was worded as follows: "The Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division, invite you to be present, as per letter of Mr. Samuel Hallett, to celebrate the opening of the first section of forty miles of their road west from the Missouri river.

THE ASSASSINATION OF HALLETT.

Shortly after the letter of invitation was issued Samuel Hallett was shot and killed in Wyandotte by O. A. Talcutt, chief engineer for the capitalists, and the career of the pioneer railroad builder was brought to a tragic end.

Hallett came to Leavenworth in the fall of 1863, and, having secured the right-of-way for a railroad previously granted under the territorial government to the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Lawrence Railroad Company, he proposed to some of the capitalists of Leavenworth to put a railroad across the country, and received pledges for the undertaking. Work was begun at once, and a road was built to what is now known as the "Junction" on the Missouri Pacific, near Leavenworth. One authority says that, calling for funds, Hallett was given the cold shoulder and told to go ahead with the road. This was in February, 1864. The Missouri Pacific was approaching Jefferson City, and Hallett saw that if ground could be broken at the mouth of the Kansas river for the beginning of the new road to be known as the Kansas Pacific, a connection between it and the Missouri Pacific could be made more quickly and leave Leavenworth out in the cold. Quietly maturing his plans and contracts, he one morning began work without a soul in Wyandotte knowing of his intention beforehand.

EXCITEMENT IN WYANDOTTE.

Word reached the city about 10 o'clock that morning that work had begun on a new railroad. Hundreds of citizens went down on foot and in carriages and found a hundred men at work, cutting an opening through the woods south of Armstrong. Wyandotte boiled over with excitement. Property went up one hundred per cent during the week. Hallett opened an office at the foot of Kansas avenue, and the streets were thronged with laboring men. By the middle of April more than a thousand laborers were employed. Samuel Hallett was general manager, his brother, John, was employed as superintendent, and another brother, Thomas, was an assistant. O. A. Talcutt was chief engineer. About the middle of May, Samuel Hallett went to St. Louis and Chicago, leaving the office work with his brother John. It has been stated that soon after Hallett left, Talcutt came in from the western terminus of the road, and, drawing the amount of money due him, went to St. Louis, where he met Samuel Hallett and asked for more money, which was paid, in ignorance of the fact that the engineer had been settled with in full at the office.

HALLETT'S VISIT TO PRESIDENT LINCOLN.

One who has told the story says that, a week later, Samuel Hallett was called to Washington, and while conferring with President Lincoln about the road, Mr. Lincoln called his attention to a letter received from Talcutt, in which it was claimed that Hallett was constructing a cheap road; that the material was of the poorest kind; that the bridges would not hold up a year, and stamping Hallett, in general, as a swindler. Mr. Hallett is said to have made a showing of his contract, and of the amount of work done, whereupon Mr. Lincoln is said to have declared that Talcutt "ought to be spanked." It is further stated that Mr. Hallett mailed Talcutt's letter to the president to his brother John. A week later Talcutt returned to Wyandotte and went at once to Hallett's office.

John Hallett showed him the letter that he had sent to Washington and said "President Lincoln says you should be spanked and I am going to do it."

Being a big, two-fisted fellow, it is said John Hallett took Talcutt across his knee and summarily administered the spanking. Being released, Talcutt drew his revolver, but John Hallett's hand came down upon him again, and before he could make any successful attempt at resistance, his assailant had opened the door and hurled him through it into the middle of the street.


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