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Early railroad history, part 2


I thought I would share a little more about the building of the railroad across Kansas. Of course, the building of the first railroads was done by hard physical labor. It was no easy task and many immigrants found work with the railroad.  

My husband’s great grandfather John August Carlson had come to this part of the country from Sweden and he found work helping to build the railroad from Kansas City to Ft. Scott. Men from Sweden were considered excellent laborers when it came to building the railroad. It required men of strength and determination. For instance each rail weighed approximately 480 pounds. Trees were cut whenever possible along the route.   

On another note, the first railroad across Kansas to Denver was not without challenges. In 1868 the rail line was completed to the town of Phil Sheridan which was about 12 miles east of Fort Wallace. In 1869 the railroad became known as the Kansas Pacific Railway and was completed to Denver in 1870. The total cost of construction was $34,357,491.00 for 639 miles or $53,767.59 per mile. Today that would be $1,379,138,68. 

As you can imagine, by this time the Kansas Pacific Railway was deep in debt and suffered even more losses during the panic of 1873 and after 1876 financial problems put them into receivership.  

In 1880 they consolidated with other companies and became known as the Union Pacific Railway Co. In 1893 they were taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and operate under that name today. 

The joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, also known as Promontory Point, in Utah, lacked one important rail connection — there was no bridge across the Missouri River which required transfer of passengers and goods by ferry until a bridge was completed in 1873. 

The Kansas Pacific Railway had connections, making it part of the first continuous transcontinental railroad system when completed in 1870. 


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