In 1858 a group of Lawrence businessmen supported the idea of a railroad route to the Gulf of Mexico. They chartered the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Fort Gibson Railroad Company by the Territorial Legislature Act of Kansas on February 12, 1858. The war between the states delayed progress of their venture. The charter was amended by an act of the State Legislative and approved February 29, 1864 and authorization was given to build a railroad from Leavenworth to the southen border of Kansas.
Senator James Lane was the first president of the LL&G. During the year of 1865, he promoted the line to communities along the route to vote in construction bonds. Senator Lane’s suicide in 1866 changed the management.
Construction began in late 1867 and on New Years day of 1868 track had been layed to Ottawa. Construction resumed in the spring of 1869 and reached Coffeyville in 1871. Making a total distance of 143.83 miles for the railroad line.
On March 5, 1875 the LL&G RR, Co. went into receivership and was sold under foreclosure. Struggling to survive, the railroad was sold October 22, 1878. The new owners changed the name to the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad Company.
In 1879 the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad Company name was changed again to the Kansas City, Lawrence and Southern. The quickly growing Santa Fe Railroad took control of the stock in November of 1880, but ran it under the name of the Kansas City, Lawrence and Southern Railroad Company.
During 1880’s the highest rate of speed allowed for express passenger trains was 25 – 35 mph. The highest rate of speed allowed for mail and freight trains was 15 mph.
In December of 1880 the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas RR, Ottawa & Burlington RR, and the Kansas City & Olathe RR Companies were consolidated under the name of the Southern Kansas Railroad Company.
From the first of May in 1882, until the mid 1970’s, the line ran under the name of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company. The ATSF operated the line until the mid 1970s. In 1990, they sold to the Kansas City Terminal Railway Company. The same year the KCT filed for abandonment.