The Santa Fe Route and
A designated capital city since the early 1600's, Santa Fe was named capital of New Mexico in 1852, when the territory was organized.
Santa Fe was the final destination of the historic Santa Fe pioneer trail, which was used as a commercial and military highway. Santa Fe was a major western trading center and a haven for desperados during that era.
Topeka was settled as a free-state town in the 1850's at the location of a ferry boat crossing of the Kansas River. The town was named county seat of Shawnee County when it was organized in 1855. When Kansas was made a state in 1861, Topeka was named state capital.
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was organized in 1859 to run from St. Joseph, Missouri to Topeka. The Santa Fe Railway was also chartered in 1859, proposing to connect with the Kansas line in Topeka.
This new transportation route promised to add the newly invented telegraph line along its path. This encouraged western travel and commerce throughout Kansas.
In the years surrounding the American Civil War many slaves used Topeka as a stepping stone in their escape from the south. A fort was built there to defend the town from Confederate attacks.
In the years following the war, much growth occurred in Topeka as mills and foundries were established. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad maintained important car and locomotive shops at Topeka. In 1866, citizens of Topeka saw the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad, then known as Kansas Pacific. That line would later continue to Denver.
In 1879 the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad rolled their first passenger train into Santa Fe. The line more or less followed the same route as the famed wagon trail.
This map of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico was published in 1888 by Rand, McNally & Co. It shows relief, drainage, cities, towns, stations, Indian reservations, and clearly labeled railroad network of 1888.