This line was built in 1886 by Santa Fe subsidiary, Chicago, Kansas & Western Railroad. All through 1886, construction crews for the CK&W and the Denver, Memphis & Atlantic Railroad, a Missouri Pacific subsidiary, raced one another westward through Chautauqua County, each vying to beat the other to the Cowley County line. The DM&A reached Cedar Vale at the county line, first, and then continued westward toward Dexter and Winfield. Finding little reason to share the same territory with the MoP, the Santa Fe terminated construction at Cedar Vale. Thereafter the Santa Fe operated the line as the Cedar Vale branch, with the cattle town of Elgin, located on the Indian Territory border, generating most of the traffic on the line. Prior to WWI, this line carried considerable stock car traffic, with Indian Territory, grass-fattened cattle being shipped from Elgin to Kansas City. Cattle shipments peaked about 1909 and thereafter, Elgin gradually declined. The Cedar Vale branch limped into the early years of the Great Depression before the Santa Fe finally petitioned the ICC to abandon the line between Havana and Cedar Vale.
Although the line was removed prior to WWII, the old roadbed remains evident throughout much of the alignment. There are a few, well-built, limestone culverts and bridge abutments/piers at various points along the line. Legend has it that the Santa Fe employed Italian stone masons to build these structures, but to date no corroborating evidence for this claim has been found. Regardless, they make for good photo opportunities for the adventurous.