No explanation has ever been given publicly, of the relationship between the promoters of the huge West Side suburban development, and the even larger acreage to the north owned or optioned by the Topeka Land & Development Co., representing the Boston Syndicate. (see map). Each developer built and operated a steam dummy line to furnish rapid transit service for prospective buyers and, hopefully, future residents of their suburban tracts. For several years beginning 1888, the West Side Circle Railway’s trains operated between the Ninth and Quincy terminal (which also served the East Side Street Ry.) and it's western terminal, about five miles away, near Wanamaker. The Boston Syndicate’s Belt Railway followed a generally parallel routs.
The West Side Circle Railway Company of Topeka, to give it’s corporate title, was chartered March 10, 1887, “to operate on the streets of Topeka,” through most of it’s track was outside of the city. T. A. Osborn, former governor of Kansas, was president. Other incorporators, all of Topeka, included C. W. Jewell, capitalist; H. C. Linn, physician; C. B. Hamilton, attorney; and T. J. Anderson, agent, Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska R.R. (Rock Island Lines).
The CAPITAL, May 26, 1887, reported details of the first contract for construction of the system:
The west side Circle Railroad
[sic] yesterday let the contract to F. C. Crowley of Chicago, for one mile of their street railroad to be complete within thirty days after the arrival of the material. The route of the Circle railroad is as follows: (see map)
Beginning at Ninth and Kansas avenue, west to Jackson, then south on Jackson to Eleventh (on Topeka Rapid Transit track), west on Eleventh to King (now Munson) and west on King to a point three miles west of the city limits. The contract was let for the first mile of the road, beginning at Kansas avenue. The material was shipped from Cambria, Pa., on the 18th, and will arrive early nest week, so that within thirty-five days Topeka will have another city railway ready for operation.
Two months later the JOURNAL reported that rails, except for those on curves, had been laid on West 11th as far west as Washburn Place (immediately west of present MacVicar Avenue), and that the curved rails were on their way, and on October 5, 1887, the JOURNAL announced that five miles of track had been laid, but not a word about operation of trains.
Soon after the West Side Circle Railway was chartered, the corporation transferred all real estate it has acquired for right-of-way, to one F. V. Green, New York City, for $16,500. In turn Green Sold the land, most of which had been platted, to several different parties.
The date when the West Side Circle began to operate has eluded us. In a roundup of street railway news the CAPITAL, January 1, 1889, state that the line was operating. Radges’ City Directory, 1890-91, lists the W. S. Circle among other lines, giving Quincy (corner of 9th) as the headquarters, and Robert H. Delahay as secretary. Delahay was the brother-in-law of the company’s president, T. A. Osborn.
Several Press notices in 1890 had the West Side Circle line “operating” in concert with the “Topeka Belt Railway.” The “concert” was further indicated in Radges’ 1893-94 Directory, which listed G. H. Nolte as secretary of both the Belt and West Side Circle lines, with Topeka attorney C. S. Gleed as president of the latter. Possibly Gleed and Nolte were representing Bond holders. Both West Side Circle and the Belt were victims of the collapse of the real estate boom of the early 1890’s.