December 31, 1871 Daily Commercial (Leavenworth, Kansas)


The want hitherto felt in Leavenworth has been a system of railroads centering in the city, and affording its citizens direct communication with all sections of the surrounding country. To supply this want, the energies of the people have been devoted during the past year to the extension of railroad communication, and the progress made has been very satisfactory.


Some time in May a proposition was submitted to the citizens of Leavenworth to construct a narrow gauge road from Leavenworth to Denver, to traverse a line of country lying midway between the Kansas Pacific and Central Branch, which is a rich agricultural region, and at present without railroad facilities. A narrow gauge road was preferred from the fact that the reduced cost of construction would admit of cheaper transportation, and high freights had been found the chief obstacle to the prosperity and development of the West. The project was favorably received, and the subsidy asked of the county granted by a large majority. Immediately thereupon, work was commenced upon the road, the first section of ten miles being let to M. S. Hall, the noted railroad contractor, and subsequently the next fifteen miles to the same man. The first letting which crosses the ridge at Salt creek, and runs through Kickapoo township, traverses an exceeding rough piece of country, the cutting at the ridge being forty-five deep and eight hundred feet long. This portion of the road was smoothed for the ties a few days since, the eastern end of the road entering upon the Missouri track just north of the coal mine, where a third rail will be laid for the passage of trains to the depot. Already a number of cars and two locomotives have arrived, and iron has been ordered in Pennsylvania, which will shortly be forwarded. This road is regarded with great favor by the counties it is intended to traverse, and liberal aid has been voted by them.


September 26th a celebration of the opening of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad was given by the directors of the road, in which Gen. Grant and a large number of the most prominent citizens of Chicago and of cities along the line paid a visit to Leavenworth and were hospitably entertained by our citizens. Some six years ago Leavenworth county voted $300,000 of county bonds towards the construction of the Fort Des Moines and Platte City Railroad, the main object of our citizens in granting this aid being to secure railroad communication with Cameron, and thus obtain an outlet to the east. The road was built by slow stages, Col. James Burnes, of Weston, being President and Judge Aller Secretary. During the construction of this road, Mr. Tracy, having obtained the necessary franchises, commenced building a road from Washington, Iowa, to connect with this Cameron branch from Leavenworth. We have it from Mr. Winston's lips that our ultimate connection with Chicago by means of this road is due to the favorable opinion formed of this country during his visit here with a surveying party to find a western connection for their road. Through freight and passenger trains are now running daily over this road, and on the completion of the bridge, which will bring their trains to our depot, a large increase of business may be expected.


For some years past, the depot accommodations in this city have been scandalously inadequate, and much complaint has been occasioned by the neglect of the railroad authorities to furnish a more commodious depot. The increasing demands of the public have at length prevailed in the right quarter, and on March 1st last, the present elegant depot was commenced. The length is two hundred feet by sixty feet wide, and the cost was $30,000. It is a tasteful and substantial brick structure, with towers at the north end, with spacious and lofty passenger rooms, and ample provision for baggage and the various offices required in such a building. E. T. Carr, Esq., of this city, was the architect; John Geiger supplied the stone work; Thomas Jones the brick masonry, and James Bannon the joinery. The plaster and painter work is nearly completed, and the depot will be opened to the public early in January.

THE MO. P. R. R.

One of the most popular passenger routes of the country is the Missouri Pacific Railroad, from Leavenworth to St. Louis. The completion of this road gave Leavenworth her first through route to St. Louis without change or detention. From the beginning the road obtained a popularity with our citizens which has in no wise diminished to this day. The management of the road is excellent, both as regards the transportation of freight and passengers. The road is equipped with the finest rolling stock, and lately the management placed Pullman coaches on all express trains. The Postoffice Department recently abolished the route agent system on this line, and organized the Postal Distributing Service, the Railroad Company providing elegant and commodious postoffice cars.


This road, which extends from Leavenworth to Kansas City, is owned by Leavenworth men. It is now leased to and operated by the Missouri Railroad, and forms an important line in a great East and West thoroughfare. Our townsmen, Levi T. Smith and Alexander Caldwell were active spirits in the construction of the road, and we understand that they have realized handsomely in the money invested, and have received a due return for their skill and enterprise in the construction of the line. The road has contributed largely to the rapid growth and prosperity of Leavenworth, and at the same time has afforded Wyandotte and Kansas City a good route to the wholesale markets of Leavenworth.

L. A. & N. W. R. R.

The Leavenworth, Atchison & Northwestern Railroad was built from this city to Atchison in 1869. Its completion furnished our merchants with direct and easy access to the flourishing towns along the Central Branch Union Pacific Railroad, and at the same time supplied Atchison and many other towns in Northern Kansas with a through route to Leavenworth, St. Louis and the cities of the East. The credit of its construction is due principally to Alexander Caldwell, Len. Smith, and the gentlemen associated with them in their various railway enterprises. Local capital built and stocked the road. Between here and Atchison the line is also operated by the Missouri Pacific.

K. C., ST. JOE. & C. B. R. R.

The Kansas City, St. Joseph and Council Bluffs railroad was completed in 1868. This route affords our merchants admirable connections with the Union Pacific railroad at Council Bluffs. Since its completion, daily shipments of manufactured articles have been made from this city to the mining regions of Utah, Nevada and California. During the fruit seasons our dealers ship heavily to Omaha, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and other towns along the upper Missouri, over this route. The K. C., St. Joe. & C. B. R. R. was formerly three distinct roads. From Leavenworth to St. Joseph the road was known as the Missouri Valley railroad, and from St. Joseph to Hamburg, Iowa, the line was known as the St. Joseph and Council Bluffs railroad, and the portion from Hamburg to Council Bluffs, Iowa, was called the Council Bluffs and St. Joseph railroad. About one year ago the line was consolidated by the Joy interest, and now goes by the name which heads this sketch. The United States Railway Postal Service is now in operation on the line, and the old route agent system abandoned.
About the 15th of January through trains will be placed on the new Chicago route, via. St. Joseph, Hopkins and the Burlington & Missouri River railroad. This new line intersects the main line of the B. & M. R. R. at a point in Iowa directly northeast of this city, and passes through the most fertile and densely populated counties of Iowa, crossing the Mississippi over the new and magnificent iron bridge at Burlington. The whole line from Chicago to Leavenworth is under one general management, and the passenger of this city may step in a Pullman care at East Leavenworth and be landed in Chicago without change, and have the pleasure of riding over one of the smoothest tracks of the country. The freight agent of the K. D., St. Joe & C. B. railroad in this city is J. B. Dutton, formerly from the general office of Michigan Central. He was appointed agent for the Kansas Pacific when that road had only thirty-nine miles constructed. He was subsequently agent of the Central Branch at Atchison, and was stationed at Leavenworth last July as local freight agent. Dutton is of the "irrepressible and high pressure order," and will always get his share of business.


This road has an eastern terminus in this city, and also one at Wyandotte, the branches uniting at Lawrence. The road now finished to Denver with a branch running thence to Cheyenne on the Union Pacific, constitute together one of the greatest iron ways of the age. In point of construction, and in selection of route, the Kansas Pacific is superior to the Union Pacific, and the acknowledged favorite of transcontinental travellers of the day. The beauty of the valley which it traverses, the grandeur of the mountain scenery as viewed from the west end of the road, conspire to make the route a popular one in the summer months, and the fact that the rod is exempt from heavy snows that impede transportation on the Union Pacific during the winter months, compels shippers and travelers to patronize the line from early autumn until spring. The managers of the line have introduced all modern improvements for the comfort and safety of passengers, and a trip from the Missouri river to the Rocky Mountains across the great plains, is made at a high rate of speed, with perfect security to the passengers. The increase of population along the line of the Kansas Pacific, for a distance of four hundred miles west of Leavenworth, has been in a ratio of three to one in advance of the increase on the line of the Union Pacific for a distance of four hundred miles west of Omaha. This fact alone, should convince every one that the soil and climate of the Kansas Valley are more conducive to prosperity and comfort than the climate and soil of the Platte Valley.