"The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System" (1906)

Though the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company (ATSF) was founded in 1859 primarily to connect east central Kansas with New Mexico, it was extended to California by the early 1880s and extended an arm into Chicago. The history of the railroad in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is largely associated with the economic development of the southern Great Plains and the Southwest, but this promotional map from the ATSF’s 1906 annual report also illustrates the importance of Chicago as an eastern terminus for Midwestern and Western railroads. For example, the ATSF brought cattle and other livestock from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Chicago’s famed stockyards. Additionally, coal from Colorado and grain from Kansas found their way to Chicago via the Santa Fe. Maps of this sort were cheaply produced by industrial-scale printing companies such as the American Bank Note Company and Rand McNally for reports, timetables, and promotional purposes. Most were custom designed for the individual railroad clients, and they highlighted the lines of the railroads that sponsored them at the expense of competitors. In the competition for access to agricultural and Western markets, mapmakers selectively trimmed and squeezed geography in order to present the territorial reach of the railroad in the best possible light.

 

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“The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System,” from Eleventh Annual Report of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Compan (New York: American Bank Note Company, 1906). The Newberry Library, Map 6F G4296.P3 1906.A4