Atchison history comes alive at depot museums


The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Train enthusiasts recognize the name of this railroad right away. Music enthusiasts may quickly recognize the words from the song of the same name.

The railroad was often referred to as Santa Fe railroad. Funny thing, the railroad never operated in Santa Fe.

The railroad operated from Atchison to Colorado, beginning in 1859. The railroad stayed in business until 1996, when it was merged with Burlington Northern and formed Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF).


The history of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad is highlighted, along with a lot more, at the Atchison Depot and Historical Society’s museum.

The museum starts with a look at the early Native American discoveries, including tools and weapons.


Lewis and Clark’s expedition is highlighted. The team traveled up the Missouri River in the area.


An exhibit highlights Amelia Earhart’s birth in Atchison and her family’s local history.


An early newspaper printing press is on display.


Telecommunication’s history is examined at the museum. A switchboard is on display.


Rifles and other weapons are on display.

I liked a display featuring World War I items.


Commerce and agriculture are also recognized at the museum.


Jesse Stone (aka Charles Calhoun) called Atchison home. Who was he? Oh, he wrote a little song called “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” which became an early Rock ‘n’ roll hit. It was written for Big Joe Turner, but it may have become better known after being covered by Bill Haley and the Comets.


Stone was known as the “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” because of his songwriting and music arrangement skills. His songs were performed by many big time acts – Elvis Presley among them.


Stone’s early career included playing at the famed Cotton Club, after having the gig arranged by Duke Ellington. Stone was born in 1900 and passed away in 1999.

Outside the Depot building – which also houses the visitors center and Chamber of Commerce – stands the rail museum.


It’s an outdoor collection of train cars. It’s actually operated by the North East Kansas Railroaders, a group of train enthusiasts.

Both museums are free, but will accept donations.

For more information on the Depot and museums, please visit