The Atchison & Topeka Railroad was chartered in 1859. The railroad company received a generous land grant in the 1860's from the government in order to build and help open up Kansas lands for settlement.
In 1863, with aims at building 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 provided easy passage west from Kansas City to countless regions with its 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 harvested 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 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 in 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 relief map of the western United States was published in 1884 by Rand McNally. The map shows cities, towns, military and Indian reservations, state boundaries, waterways, mountains, stage routes and railroads, emphasizing the main line. Inset maps include a railroad map of Mexico and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad system.
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