The Highroad to Orange Land
The “Cyrus K. Holliday”, Locomotive No. 1, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway
THREE centuries ago the Spanish friars founded a city in New Mexico near a tributary of the Rio Grande, and gave it the imposing title of La Ciudad Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco, which being interpreted means “The True City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis”. As the place increased, words were whittled off its name, and to-
In 1680 the natives revolted against the Spaniards and drove them out of the territory. Twelve years later they were subjected again, and the country grew in population and importance until, early in the nineteenth century, its trade with Missouri and the East became valuable. Its climate is cold in the higher regions, hot in the plains, and generally suited for the growing of maize, wheat, fruits, and tobacco, where water can be got in sufficient quantities for irrigation. Under the surface lie rich deposits of gold, silver, copper, iron, and salt, which every year are more extensively mined.
Caravans soon began to trail across the prairies between Kansas and Santa Fe, over the Raton Pass of the Rockies. The distance was 800 miles, and the round trip occupied three to four months.
“Merchandise to an enormous value was often carried by a single caravan. In spite of the protection of a strong military escort the trail was almost continuously sodden with human blood and marked by hundreds of rude graves dug for the mutilated victims of murderous Apaches and other tribes. Every scene recounted by romances of Indian warfare had its counterpart along the Santa Fe trail. The ambush, the surprise, the massacre, the capture, the torture, in terrifying and heart-
Things were therefore lively on the caravan route during the first forty-
On February 11, 1859, a Company was incorporated under a special Act of the Legislature for the construction of the Atchison & Topeka Railroad. The name of Colonel Cyrus K. Holliday stands out from among many others as that of the man who first realised the immense possibilities of a line across Kansas to New Mexico. While his fellow-
It was largely due to his influence that, in 1863, the name of the Company was extended to “The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad”. The shareholders now had a better conception of what they should aim at. In the same year Congress gave the road a lift by voting to the proprietors a grant of 10 square miles of territory for every mile of track laid through Kansas to its western boundary, on condition that the road should be completed to the State limit within ten years, viz. by 1873.
As in the case of the Union Pacific, financiers hung back, and there was not much done except in the way of meetings and efforts at promotion, until July 1869, when the road was constructed from Topeka to Carbondale -
On their return home they gave the word for the advance. Only a few years remained to save the Government grant. Though hampered by the usual difficulties of moving material, they rapidly pushed the rail-
At the boundary line the Company paused for a breathing space, and then attacked the south-
A passenger train on the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway c1890
Clear of the Pass, the rails run almost due south along the eastern edge of the domain once owned by the American Fur Company. At the New Mexican boundary a tunnel had to be cut, at an elevation of nearly 7600 feet, through half a mile of mountain. From the southern end the track drops by a winding pass into the land discovered by Marcos de Nizza 345 years ago, “above forests of pine and fir; through canyons where fierce rock walls yield grudging passage, and massive grey slopes bend downward from the sky; along level stretches by the side of the Great River of the North, whose turbid stream is the Nile of the New World; past picturesque desert tracts spotted with sage, and past mesas, buttes, dead volcanoes, and lava beds.” In 1878 the first car entered new Mexico; in 1880 the railroad was blowing the whistle of western civilisation outside old-
It is a wonderful line, this Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe. To begin with, the main line doesn’t run through Atchison or Topeka or the capital of New Mexico. They all lie near it, but not on it. The eastern terminus is Kansas, and the most important western depots are Denver and Albuquerque. Secondly, it has a total mileage of 10,000 miles, sufficient to span the United States three times. Thirdly, its effect on the old buffalo haunts has been simply marvellous, while California owes more to it than can be easily put down on paper. You must keep in mind the caravan and the whooping Indian to understand things properly. What has happened in Kansas? As soon as the line had reached but half way across, people began to find out that there was money to be made in the prairies. They came first by dozens, then by hundreds, then by thousands. The Company issued attractive literature, ran special trains for the benefit of possible settlers -
All along the Arkansas Valley, to La Junta and beyond, the railway has brought into being a green strip of fertile land; for the immigrant on his arrival watered the ground which now is covered with alfalfa, melons, beet -
Arizona, or at least that part of it through which the railway passes, is a succession of lofty plateaux, deep canyons, and arid plains, among which are seen large patches of forest, and tracks of green, park-
Grand Canyon Station, c1910
“Only by descending into the canyon may one arrive at anything like comprehension of its proportions, and the descent cannot be too urgently commended to every visitor who is sufficiently robust to bear a reasonable amount of fatigue. . . . For the first two miles it is a sort of Jacob’s ladder, zigzagging at an unrelenting pitch. At the end of two miles a comparatively gentle slope is reached, some 2500 feet below the rim, that is to say -
“Overshadowed by sandstone of chocolate hue, the way grows gloomy and foreboding, and the gorge narrows. The traveller stops a moment beneath a slanting cliff 500 feet high, where there is an Indian grave and pottery scattered about. A gigantic niche has been worn in the face of this cavernous cliff, which, in recognition of its fancied Egyptian character, was named the Temple of Seti by the painter Thomas Moran.
“A little beyond this temple it becomes necessary to abandon the animals. The river is still a mile and a half distant. The way narrows now to a mere notch, where two waggons could barely pass, and the granite begins to tower gloomily overhead. . . . Obstacles are encountered in the form of steep imposing crags, over which the pedestrian must clamber. After these lesser difficulties come sheer descents, which at present are passed by the aid of ropes.
"The last considerable drop is a 40-
Such is the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, which this railway has made so accessible to the world. The Colorado is bridged in but two places -
Previous to 1870 the site of this town of 10,000 inhabitants was simply a grazing ground for cattle, and a poor one at that, from lack of water. Then there came a small band of enterprising men, who pitched upon the place as likely, with proper irrigation, to produce heavy crops of oranges. Not discouraged by the ridicule of older settlers in the district, they dug their irrigation canals and planted their first orange seedlings, and when these proved a complete failure they tried growing lemons; and, disappointed here again, they cultivated raisins, with some success. But so much money had been spent that their finances were almost exhausted. In a lucky hour one of them received from Washington a couple of orange trees imported from Brazil. He planted the trees, which soon proved that they were as well suited to Riverside as the rabbit is to Australia. They produced fruit of great size and good quality, and, moreover, without the pips which detract somewhat from the pleasure of eating the ordinary orange. “Buds were taken from the trees and grafted on the stock of the ordinary orange trees grown from seedlings. This grafting was a complete success, and soon there were a number of trees in Riverside producing the seedless oranges. Then everybody there wanted buds for grafting purposes, and the fortunate owner of the parent trees netted a good sum of money by selling the buds at so much each. They were worth all they cost, however, for the oranges they produced became the most popular and the most profitable grown in the United States, and they were the foundation of that remarkable development in orange growing to which California has since attained. To-
For many years Riverside supplied half of the total orange crop of Southern California; even now it grows one-
Now we come back to our main theme -
(1) Since this account was written the facilities for a descent have been much improved
(2) The Times, April 13, 1903
[From The Romance of Modern Locomotion by Archibald Williams, c1920]