Promotional broadside for the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway

Woodward, Tiernan & Hale, Steam Printers, St. Louis, Kansas City AND NORTHERN RAILWAY. FROM ST. LOUIS TO KANSAS CITY LEXINGTON, CHILLICOTHE, St. JOSEPH MACON AND OTTUMWA! St. Louis, ND [but 1872-74].
Lithographic broadside printed in blue and red, sheet size 22”h x 14”w.

An exuberant two-color promotional broadside for the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway, promising “The Shortest! The Safest! The Quickest! The Best! Route to All Points West.”

The St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway had its origins in 1851 as the Northern Missouri Railroad, one of several chartered and financed by the State of Missouri. Though intended to run to Ottumwa, Iowa, economic setbacks prior to the Civil War prevented it from reaching even as far as the Missouri border. During the war years, the Railway suffered badly from the economic disruption and guerilla warfare that plagued the state. However, with state support the Northern Missouri briefly rebounded in the postwar era, finally extending a line to Ottumwa as well as opening one to Kansas City. Due perhaps to the costs of expansion, the Northern Missouri succumbed to a crash crunch in 1871, but was purchased by a New York investor and revived in 1872 as the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway. The outside money must have made a huge difference, as by at least one account the revived Railway became a mainstay of the Missouri economy:

“No railway in the State of Missouri has passed through more vicissitudes than that which under the present title of St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern, is daily entwining itself firmly round the sympathies of St. Louis merchants, and reaching out more widely and systematically to control in the interests of this city not merely the traffic of Northern and Western Missouri, but that of other Western and Northwestern States.” (Reavis, p. 212)

In spite of—or perhaps due to—its success, in 1879 it merged with the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway and ceased to operate as an independent company.

The broadside appears to be extremely rare, as I find but a single other impression, at the Huntington Library. The Huntington dates its impression to 1872-74 “based on the employment history of W. C. Van Horne,” who is named on the broadside as General Superintendent of the Railway.

Not in OCLC. Background on the Railroad from L. U. Reavis, The Railway and River Systems of the City of St. Louis (St. Louis: Woodward, Tiernan & Hale, 1879), pp. 212-214.


Gently toned, with some scattered light soiling. Some losses to blank margin and printed border reinstated in facsimile.