This line was built in 1886 by the Denver, Memphis & Atlantic Railroad. Initially incorporated to build a narrow gauge line, the company struggled to make any headway and no narrow gauge track was ever laid. The proposed route, however, caught the attention of Jay Gould, whose Missouri Pacific Railroad was in the midst of a territorial war of sorts with the Santa Fe and other regional competitors. Gould acquired the DM&A charter via the MoP and construction got under way by early 1886. Construction began near the Pittsburg, KS area and headed westward along the southern tier of Kansas counties, just north of the Indian Territory border. Through 1886 the DM&A made rapid progress, and before the end of the year, contractors had graded a roadbed and laid track through Labette, Montgomery, and Chautauqua counties, Kansas. Through 1887, construction crews advanced the line westward through Cowley County, eventually reaching Larned in Pawnee County. The MoP's, DM&A was never a heavy hauler but prior to the advent of autos and highways, the line was vital to the many, rural/agricultural communities along the line. The MoP maintained passenger service on the line into the early 1950s. By all accounts, a ride over this circuitous route was a slow and tedious affair.
Abandonment occurred in stages over many years, with the segment between Dearing and Winfield falling to the scrapper in the early 1980s. The portion between Pittsburg and Coffeyville survived into the early 1990s as the Southeast Kansas Railroad; one of Watco's numerous shortline railroads. Most of the old DM&A is now but a memory, but a short section of the line, east of Coffeyville, remains in use for car storage, and a short section remains in use in Winfield. Elsewhere the roadbed remains fairly prominent and easy to follow.