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Ellsworth, Kan., Awarded Membership in Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry

Ellsworth, Kan., has been awarded a membership in Union Pacific's Train Town USA Registry as part of the railroad's year-long 150th anniversary celebration.

Ellsworth received an official Train Town USA resolution signed by Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young, and Ellsworth's historical connection with Union Pacific will be featured at

"We are proud to recognize Ellsworth as we commemorate our railroad's sesquicentennial celebration and growing up together," said Ben Jones, Union Pacific director - Public Affairs for Kansas and Missouri. "Union Pacific has been part of the country's fabric throughout the railroad's 150-year history.  That bond between us and the nearly 7,300 communities we serve continues to strengthen.

"Our shared heritage with Ellsworth is a source of pride as we remember our past while serving and connecting our nation for years to come."

Ellsworth became a town in 1867 on the banks of the Smokey Hill River just about the same time that the Union Pacific Railroad Eastern Division was building track west from Kansas City.

It was rumored that Ellsworth was to become a western terminal for the railroad. This brought between 1,000 and 2,000 people from all walks of life into town. Then disaster struck, with a severe flood of the Smokey Hill River that left four inches of rain standing in town, which destroyed foundations that collapsed businesses and homes. Shortly after that a cholera epidemic struck and killed more than half the town. Ellsworth moved in 1867 to its present location with North and South Main Street running on both sides of the railroad tracks.

In 1868, the railroad's name was changed to Kansas and Pacific.

Ellsworth was a busy place at that time as all travelers, merchandise and other items had to be unloaded and shipped using wagons. It also was the place they stockpiled supplies to continue building the rails further west. The Kansas Pacific didn't reach Denver until 1870. Ellsworth had two hotels to accommodate passengers that needed to transfer to the stage or another train. Between 1871 and 1875, Ellsworth became one of the largest cattle towns in the state, with the largest cattle pens in the state. The pens had seven chutes to load cattle on seven cars at a time. More than 10,000 cattle were shipped from Ellsworth each year during those years before it moved on to Dodge City.

The Kansas Pacific Railroad became part of Union Pacific on February 12, 1880.