The Railroads

The Railroads (HM17CC)

Location: Seneca, KS 66538 Nemaha County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 50.048', W 96° 3.754'

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The first railroad beyond the Missouri River was built in 1859 by investors in St. Joseph who saw their city as the gateway to the west. After laying six miles of track on the Kansas side of the river, their enterprise was stalled by the approaching Civil War.

In 1862, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act which called for a transcontinental railroad to California. When the war ended, there were three railroads on the shore of the Missouri River. The one who could lay tracks fastest would become the transcontinental railroad - the race west began.

Kansas City took the lead by building the first bridge over the Missouri and the Kansas Pacific steamed west; it was beaten by Omaha's Union Pacific which became the official transcontinental line. Meanwhile St. Joe could not raise funds to bridge the river and its California dream died. The six miles of track became the St. Joseph & Grand Island (StJ&GI) passing through Seneca in 1870 and connecting to the transcontinental line in Nebraska.

The Kansas City and North Western (KCNW), arrived in Seneca in 1887. At that time railroads were crisscrossing Kansas but the Panic of 1893 caused railroad bankruptcies just as automobiles and trucks began further inroads into rail service.

The KCNW stopped running in 1919 and the Union Pacific took control of the StJ&GI. The frequent multi-car passenger trains that had served Seneca became two car "motors" twice a day. This service ended in 1954 and the Seneca depot was torn down.

Today, the Union Pacific runs more trains over this line than ever imagined in 1859. Mile-long diesel powered trains move "empties" to the Powder River coalfields in Wyoming where they are refilled and returned to supply electric plants throughout the central states.
HM NumberHM17CC
Placed ByCity of Seneca and Kansas Humanities Council
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 6:33pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)14S E 751364 N 4413477
Decimal Degrees39.83413333, -96.06256667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 50.048', W 96° 3.754'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 50' 2.88" N, 96° 3' 45.24" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)785
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-43 S 5th St, Seneca KS 66538, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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