Missouri Pacific Logo

The Empire

That Missouri Pacific Serves

OLMITZ (74 miles west of Salina)
 
Immigrants from Moravia, now a part of Czecho-Slovakia, came to this section of Kansas to homestead. When they petitioned the government for a post office they decided to name the new community Olmitz after the capital of their old European homeland. Wheat is the principal crop of the country surrounding Olmitz and several oil fields are nearby.
 
OSAGE CITY (108 miles east of Salina)
 
As may readily be surmised, Osage City was named after the Osage Indians who lived at one time in this part of Kansas along the Neosho River. Located in Osage County, this busy town is a popular farm marketing center. Coal mining, farming and cattle raising are the chief industries of the community. It was platted in 1869 and one historian says that 1870 saw a substantial growth. Several bad windstorms have damaged it severely, but Osage City has always managed to build back.
 
OSAWATOMIE (59 miles southwest of Kansas City)
 
This important operating division headquarters and shop point for the Missouri Pacific was founded on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes River in 1855. Its name was coined from those of two neighboring Indian tribes – the Osages and Pottawatomies.
 
A storm center in the bitter struggle between free-state and pro-slavery forces of the 1850's, Osawatomie was destroyed by fire on August 30, 1856, following a skirmish subsequently known as the "Battle of Osawatomie." On one side the contending forces were 400 pro-slavers commanded by General John W. Reid who started from Kansas City for the purpose of eliminating Osawatomie. The free-state defenders were followers of the celebrated John Brown, later executed for leading the abortive "rebellion" at Harper's Ferry.
 
Brown and fifteen others fired on the advancing pro-slavery "army," killing a number of them. There are conflicting reports as to the damages inflicted and suffered by both
134
sides in this battle but Brown and his outnumbered followers withdrew and Osawatomie was burned, contrary to orders issued by General Reid, the latter always claimed.
 
Both the battle and the free-state leader are memorialized in the attractive John Brown Battleground Memorial Park. Central features are a life-size bronze statue of Brown and the "John Brown Cabin," built by Rev. Charles Adair, brother-in-law of Brown, which serves as a museum housing a collection of historic relics.
 
Railroading is Osawatomie's principal industry as the city is head- quarters for the Missouri Pacific's Central Kansas-Colorado division and has one of the railroad's largest and most modern diesel locomotive repair and maintenance shops.
 
The Kansas State Hospital also is located at Osawatomie.
 
OSBORNE (53 miles west of Concordia)
 
Like a number of western Kansas towns, the seat of Osborne County was named after a member of the Second Kansas Regiment of the Union Army. Captain Vincent B. Osborne was the soldier honored by the colony of settlers from Pennsylvania who laid out "Osborne City," in 1871. The name was shortened by dropping the "City" when the town incorporated.
 
Osborne was an inland town, receiving its supplies by freight wagon until late in 1879 when the Atchison, Solomon Valley and Denver Railroad - now part of the Missouri Pacific- was built. Thereafter it became and still is an important shipping point for grain and livestock.
 
A monument works is the leading local industry.
 
OTIS (80.6 miles west of Salina)
 
In 1886 the Missouri Pacific Railroad set up a depot and section house to begin this Rush County community. Soon a real estate office was built plus a merchandise store combined with a post office. Until that time no one had thought of a name for the community. So when a Mr. Otis donated the lots for the grade school the grateful residents named the town in his honor.
 
Once a booming trade town, Otis today gets its wealth from the gas and oil fields nearby and the government constructed plant that extracts helium from natural gas.
 
OTTAWA (80 miles west of Kansas City)
 
County seat of Franklin County and a prospering industrial center in the fertile Valley of the Marais des Cygnes River, Ottawa was named
 
135
 
for the Indian Reservation that was cleared to make room for the townsite in 1867.
 
The Ottawas had moved to Kansas in 1832 to settle on the new reservation after ceding their Ohio lands to the United States. Soon after this the Reverend Jonathan Meeker established the Ottawa Indian Baptist Mission here and brought with him the first printing press in Kansas – an old Seth Adams model. Another name prominent in Ottawa history is that of Tauy Jones who worked among the Indians and later helped to establish the new town. Tauy Jones Hall is one of the many fine buildings on the campus of Ottawa University.
 
A fast-growing industrial center of eastern Kansas, Ottawa produces flour, brooms, dairy products, steel foundry products, gas engines, rural advertising signs and mill work. Extensive rock quarries are adjacent to the city which is surrounded by rich Kansas farm lands producing poultry, corn, wheat and alfalfa.
 
Points of interest in and about Ottawa include the site of the old Baptist Mission, Tauy Jones' home and the Chippewa Burial Ground.
 
OVERBROOK (26 miles south of Topeka)
 
There seems to be no authentic record of the origin of the name of this Osage County station on the Topeka branch of the Missouri Pacific Lines. An agricultural community in an area producing corn, wheat and kafir corn, it is also a shipping point for sheep and cattle.
 
OXFORD (9S.4 miles west of Coffeyville)
 
Although there are a number of towns in the United States with the same name, it is doubtful if any of the others came by their names in as novel a manner as this town in Sumner County.
 
In the early days of migration to the west and southwest there was a ford across the Arkansas River and a nearby settler, owning a yoke of oxen, made a profitable side venture of assisting wagon trains across
136
the stream with his oxen. When the settlement grew up beside the ford in 1871 it was called Ox Ford but later this was condensed to Oxford. Later a bridge was built and the ford was no longer used.
 
The Missouri Pacific Railroad was built through this territory in 1887 providing dependable shipping facilities. Oil fields at Oxford have been producing since 1928. Apples, truck crops, wheat, alfalfa, oats and corn are the chief products of surrounding farm lands.
 
PADONIA (44 miles northwest of Atchison)
 
Padonia was named in honor of an early local inn-owner who is said to have written a book about the vicinity. Not far from Hiawatha, county seat of Brown County, it lost the county seat election to its neighbor in 1856 by the narrow margin of three votes.
 
Surrounded by good farm land, Padonia's principal industries are the buying and shipping of grain, hay, dairy and other farm products.
 
PALMER (30 miles east of Concordia)
 
County Superintendent of Schools Palmer was honored by the first citizens of this town who named it for him, when it was founded in 1882. Originally Palmer was situated about a mile and one half south of its present location but, as was true of many other Kansas towns, was moved near the Missouri Pacific Railroad when that line was constructed through this area.
 
Palmer is located in a rich farming section in Washington County where grain, dairy, stock and poultry farms predominate. Major crops are wheat, oats and corn.
 
PAOLA (52 miles southwest of Kansas City)
 
Originally known as "Peoria Village," Paola was named for an Indian Chief, Baptiste Peoria, who owned the land on which the town now stands. The name was changed later to Paola, Indian pronunciation of the name "Peoria." The square in the heart of the city was a gift from the Indians who stipulated no building should ever be erected upon it. The first prospecting for oil and gas in Kansas was done near Paola in 1860.
 
A busy industrial community, Paola is the seat of progressive Miami County whose prosperous, fertile farms produce corn, alfalfa, wheat and livestock.
 
137
 
Previous · Index · Next
 
The book The Empire That Missouri Pacific Serves was published in the fifties by the Missouri Pacific and contains permission to reprint all or any portion.
 
Blue Skyways   Visit the Home Page for Kansas
  A service of the Kansas State Library

Page © Copyright 2000
Bob Walter  

Kansas on the Net