Cyrus K Holiday

(Frank) And we’re back again, aren’t you glad? [laughter] (Deb) I know I am. (Frank) Well, we’re here. One of my favorite series running now is Hell on Wheels. (Deb) Oh gosh. (Frank) I’m sure that – I mean, there’s some history in it and all of that but I don’t know if you’re familiar with it but it’s— (Deb) A bit, it’s about, yes [chuckles]. (Frank) Yes, but it’s pretty much about the building of the Union Pacific and then the Southern Pacific and it’s getting close to the end of the series right now, which is really going to be sad because I love westerns. But anyway, the only reason I’m saying this now is because of course, Topeka Kansas is very famous for the Atchison Topeka and out there Santa Fe Railroad, which of course was built by Cyrus K. Holliday, one of the founders of Topeka, Kansas, USA. (Deb) One of my favorite people. He was mayor of Topeka five times, I think, and he is one of the people memorialized with a statue on Kansas Avenue and the downtown beautification, revitalization, just a shot in the arm. Kansas Avenue is incredible, so you’ve got to bring the kids to see the folks that are being honored. I know that Carl Ice, who is another native Kansan, another native Topekan was on hand. He is the chairman of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, BNSF and he was on hand to dedicate the statue of Cyrus Holliday. Nobody loved Kansas more than Cyrus Holliday, seriously. Tacking Santa Fe onto the name of the railroad, it was so funny because he didn’t know if they’d ever get to Santa Fe but people wanted a railroad to Santa Fe. It had this mystique about it and by golly, they did. They got to Santa Fe and beyond. Let’s take a look at this famous Kansan. (Frank) Cyrus Kurtz Holliday was born in 1826, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He attended Allegheny College and graduated in 1852, with plans to practice law. Instead, he went into business. After making a handsome profit on a short line railroad venture, Holliday joined the throng of westward migrants and was among Kansas Territory’s first settlers. Holliday settled at Lawrence, but not long after his arrival, he thought he should establish another enclave of free state citizens farther up the Kansas River. Holliday organized the Topeka Town Association he and marked off the town’s streets and boundaries. He would play a principle role in the founding of the Free State Party. During the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention of 1859, Holliday served as Topeka’s delegate. He succeeded in having his city officially designated as the future state capital. He was elected to the first of many terms as Mayor of Topeka, and he would help found the Kansas Republican Party, serving in both the territorial and state legislatures. In 1859, Holliday began plans for the construction of a railroad to run from Atchison, along the Santa Fe Trail, his most notable business venture. The ground breaking for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe took place in 1868. Holliday served as the ATSF director until his death in 1900. Holliday received the honorary, though unofficial, title of Colonel, which he carried for the remainder of his life, while supervising a Free State regiment during the Wakarusa War of 1855. During the Civil War, Holliday served as the Adjutant General of Kansas, in which capacity recruited soldiers and insured that supplies were sent to the front. Through this downtown Topeka pocket park with his statue as the centerpiece, generations of Kansans will be able to meet the man whose vision has shaped not only Kansas but also the American southwest.

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