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History of Atchison, Kansas

Atchison, the county seat of Atchison County, is located about 60 miles from Topeka on the banks of the Missouri River. The first white settlers arrived in 1854, consisting mostly of immigrants from Missouri. During the run-up to the Civil War, Atchison was a center of support for the pro-slavery forces. The Squatter Sovereign, a vigorously antiabolitionist journal, was published in Atchison at this time. Atchison was incorporated in 1855 as a town and in 1859 as a city. During the boom period of overland stage operations, Atchison was connected to Placerville, California, by one of the longest and most importnat lines in the country. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was chartered by the state of Kansas in 1859 and organized in Atchison in 1860. Construction of the railroad didn't actually start until 1868, but soon Atchison became a hub with eight railroad lines terminating in the city by 1872. During the latter part of the century, Atchison was one of the principal cities of Kansas. John Seaton's foundry alone employed 2000 men by 1894. One of Atchison's most famous citizens was Amelia Earhart, born in the city in 1897. The house where she was born is now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. The Atchison County Historical Museum occupies the old Santa Fe railroad depot. The Atchison Railroad Museum is the home of the 811 steam engine. Two Roman Catholic colleges were founded in Atchison. One was St. Benedict's, a college for men, another was Mount St. Scholastica College for women. In 1971, they combined to form Benedictine College. Atchison also has campuses of Highland Community College and Northeast Kansas Technical College. Atchison's first hospital was opened in 1884 and closed five years later. The current Atchison Hospital traces its origins to 1914.