Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe RR

Ultimately, it was the advent of the railroad which gave birth to Edmond in terms of location and name. On July 4, 1884, Congress granted rights to both the Southern Kansas Railway, (whose securities were owned by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company) to build across the Territory.

In January 1886, a party of fifteen surveyors under civil engineer J.D. Wirt left Arkansas City to survey a new route from there to Gainesville, Texas. This new route cut west from Ponca Agency and dead through the center of the Unassigned Lands known as Oklahoma. Between mile 102 and 103 out of Arkansas City, the surveyors noted a "good spring." This location would eventually become a Santa Fe station called "Edmond."

By stipulation and an amended act of April 16, 1885, the rail construction company had to complete its first hundred miles by April 20, 1887. The time requirement pressured railroad officials to push for distance first and quality later. Accordingly, survey crews sought the shortest and easiest route to lay line and gained both company and government approval to build a track down the eastern third of the T-shaped unassigned territory. Meanwhile, on March 3, 1886, the Santa Fe purchased the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad Company of Texas to build a track from North Texas to the South Canadian River at Purcell.

Coming from the north, the Southern Kansas had hired hundreds of construction workers from Caldwell, Arkansas City and the surrounding area. The railroad contractors and crews pushed south through the Cherokee Strip and Cherokee Outlet as they averaged almost one and a half miles of track laying per day. Bridging the Cimarron River proved to be their biggest challenge, but once completed they again made good time and reached what would become the territorial capital of Guthrie on February 8, 1887.

As the railroad construction advanced, telegraph offices and side tracks were established every few miles depending on the lay of the land. Coal and storage bins and water tanks for the iron horses also were necessary. While later accounts would declare Edmond's first name to be Summit, there is nothing in any official railroad archives or government document to support the idea that the site was anything more than a descriptive point as would be a creek, a tree, or a bend in a river. Edmond was not the highest site between the Cimarron and North Canadian Rivers as others have declared. In fact, the high point between Arkansas City and today's Oklahoma City was near Waterloo Road, Oklahoma County's northern boundary, and five miles north of Edmond's center.

Santa Fe officials named the place Edmond on March 28, 1887. Then sometime prior to July 14, 1887, they filed a formal request with the federal government to name the side track at "Mile 103" for Edmond Burdick, the agent for "traveling freight" in the Oklahoma Division.

The First Edmond Oklahoma Train Order Office (Original Edmond Station) c. 1887

Courtesy of the Research Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society

Crowder, Dr. James L., Historic Edmond: An Illustrated History, Lammert, 2000.

Hoig, Dr. Stanley, Edmond: The Early Years, 1976.

Edmond: The Early Years and Edmond: The First Century by Dr. Hoig are for sale in the Museum's Gift Shop.

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