Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (A&P)

Encyclopedia Article


An American railroad company that operated, in the second half of the 19th century, two disjointed sections, one in the Midwest and one in the Southwest. The goal of the A&P was to eventually construct railroads connecting the Atlantic coast with the Pacific, but financial problems interfered with the accomplishment of that vision. In the late 1890s the A&P was dissolved and its railroad sections were integrated into the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad. Before its dissolution, however, the A&P instigated the land grabs today associated with the checkerboard reservation, obtaining sections of acreage along proposed railway routes, with or without indigenous ascent. As the archive reveals, Pueblo resistance to railroad appropriations of their lands was bitterly litigated in territorial courts, with the railroad company "vindicating" its claims to "unearned" land grants. Despite the dissolution of the A&P and its subsumption into what would become the AT & SF railroad, the railroad companies were the harbingers of the great final thrust of Manifest Destiny and its associated rapid modernization, romantic commodification, and settler colonial domination of the Southwest.

Photo Credit: 

"'Birds Eye View of Winslow, looking East.' Atlantic and Pacific Railway cars on converging tracks in the foreground of the arid Arizona terrain, ca. 1890" by U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

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