Historic Railroad Map of Kansas - 1880

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A Geographically Correct County Map of States Traversed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad and its connections.

The Atchison & Topeka Railroad was chartered in 1859. In the 1860's the railroad received a generous land grant from the government in order to build and open up Kansas lands for settlement. In 1863, with aims at extending south to New Mexico, the railroad’s name was changed to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. Reaching the Colorado state line in 1873, the railroad was an early enabler for easy passage west from Kansas City to countless regions, with its acquired connecting lines. Although the line never reached Santa Fe, it did open a branch division in New Mexico in 1880, which offered connecting lines into Santa Fe. The railroad specialized in freight service and was a popular conveyance for cattle and wheat.

A bitter battle between the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and Rio Grande railroads, known as the Royal Gorge War, ended in 1879. It was decided on April 21 of that year, by way of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad should acquire the primary rights for building a line through the narrow gorge along Colorado’s Arkansas River. The ruling came after two years of vicious sabotage acts and harsh armed standoffs between the two railroads. In the ruling the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was to discontinue its quest to reach Denver and the valuable gold regions of Colorado, and the Rio Grande wouldn’t extend its line to Santa Fe.

The railroad was honored in 1944 by song writers Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer as they wrote their tune “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” for the hit movie “The Harvey Girls”. The song, sung in the film by Judy Garland, won the Academy Award in 1945 for best original song.

This map published in 1880 by Woodward, Tiernan & Hale shows mountains, rivers, cities, towns, forts, and railroad routes, with emphasis on the main line. Along the top is an uncredited panoramic illustration showing the railroad’s route from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains and Pike’s Peak.