Category: Wild West Country

Wild West Country

Wichita County Park and Swimming Pool

Wichita County Park at Fifth and Earl sports a new swimming pool with water slides and other recreational items including basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts; sheltered picnic areas; children’s multi-level climb and play apparatus, and a walking path that winds around the perimeter of the park. A great place to stretch your legs and relax with your family.rn rnAt the Leoti Old City Park, 2nd and ‘N’ Street, you will find a picnic shelter, walking path, horseshoe pits and playground equipment.

Selkirk Hand Dug Well

The old well is the only remnent of a once busy Santa Fe Railroad of the Great Bend Division in western Kansas. The hand-dug well has been beautifully preserved, being 110 years old. It is 24 feet in diameter and 102 feet deep, rock lined, and strange as it seems, they laid the rock from the top to bottom as they went down.

It took forty-six (46) train car-loads of stone, nine (9) car-loads of lumber for the curbing, and five (5) car-loads of cement. There were 48,000 cubic feet of dirt removed from the well. This dirt was hauled on the train cars back to Ness City to be stock piled there, as dirt was a precious commodity. It was used for laying the railroad beds, etc. Out in western Kansas at that time, the buffalo grass grew like hair on a dog?s back. It was thick and rooted down as it grew along, making it almost matted. The settlers that came to farm had to use their teams and a special implement to dig up this buffalo grass. Many of them used this sod to build their homes and other buildings on their farmsteads. The only bare ground was where the farmers had plowed.

The water from this hand-dug well had many uses. First and foremost it was used for the steam for the engines, then also to supply water for the stationary boilers, wash train cars and floors, clean out the boilers, cooling ashes, fire protection, and many similar purposes at the shops, engine house, and the station buildings. The citizens of the town of Selkirk were also furnished water at the cost only of the fuel necessary to running the apparatus, which was as liberal as could be asked.

The tools for digging this well were very simple. A wooden frame was built over the well with pulleys attached with ropes. These ropes were tied on to half – barrels and were filled with the dirt down in the well. The ropes were attached to mules, oxen or workhorses on the outside of the well, that pulled the barrels up to be emptied. After the well was finished, the pump was placed in a pumphouse above ground which transfered the water into the large tank-tower for use as needed. There was a wooden staircase that went to just above the water level.

The Santa Fe line never went on to Denver as was originally planned, nor did it go to Colorado Springs, as was later planned — it didn?t go any farther than Selkirk. It was not economically feasible to continue since it paralleled the D.M. & A. from Scott City. It was abandoned in May of 1896, and the rails were taken up in July of 1898. The steam engine is gone, and there is no use for the railroad wells now, most of them have been filled-in years ago.

This well has been kept covered and in the ownership of the same family for about seventy (70) years. It has been donated to the Wichita County Historical Society to be preserved. Our plans are to get it on the list of The State Register, along with the National Register of Historic Places. Our first project is to erect a building over the well, and make it an site for people to view and learn about the early railroad. We would also like to display railroad memoriblila of the Santa Fe Railway. Another of the exciting plans is to build a model railroad, with steam engines along with historic buildings of each town on this particular line. We hope that eventually we can build a replica of the wooden water tower that stood at that station site.\"Well\"

The Selkirk Well is in the foreground with a grain elevator in behind it. The elevator is approximately 110 feet in the air,rnwhile the well is almost as deep in the ground, at 102 feet.

– Wichita County Historical Society

Wichita County Cemeteries

An effort has been made to compile records on all known cemeteries and single graves that are known to exist in Wichita County. We have a database on computers in the research room with names of people buried in the cemeteries.

For a descriptive listing of 14 cemeteries and a map, please visit the Wichita County Historical Society’s Cemetery page.

rn – Wichita County Historical Society

Leoti-Coronado County Seat Fight

The following are two accounts detailing the Leoti-Coronado county seat fight.

Account taken from the Coronado Herald, June 16, 1887

"During the time one Gerow was taking the wishes of the voters of this county in regard to the temporary county seat, certain parties in Leoti sent to Wallace to secure the services of one Charles Coulter and his six-shooter, both too well known in western Kansas to the sorrow of many good people. Coulter came and for the promise of $750 undertook the job of making Leoti the county seat. His first appearance was at the polls north of Coronado with about 150 imported toughs to receive $4 per day. Coronado voters dared not go near the polls. Again on the day of registration he, with his companion, Rains, stood at the polls with guns and dictated who should register and who should not. Coronado men left the place of registration to avoid bloodshed. During the time they were at the polls the unarmed Coronadoites were covered with rifles in the hands of Coulter’s friends, stationed in the town of Leoti. Later that day Coulter and Rains held up tow Coronado men with guns and killed a valuable horse belonging to them.

Up to this time not a single Coronado man had exposed a weapon, or lost his temper. On Sunday morning, February 27, while the people of this town were at church, William Rains and A.R. Johnson came to Coronado from Leoti and asked a druggist here for a bottle of beer. They were informed that there was not any beer in town. Not seeing anybody on the street they remarked that it would be a good time to round up the d–n town. They returned to Leoti and recruited their forces with Charles Coulter, Frank Jenness, A.N. Boorey, Emmet Denning, George Watkins, and a case of beer. When they arrived at Coronado they proceeded to make everybody they met drink with them, and tried to make a sick man get out of bed and dance at the muzzles of pistols. Later Coulter commenced to knock men down with his pistol, while Frank Jenness would single out men to cover with his pistol. But such sport was too timid for drunken desperadoes so Coutler opened the ball by shooting Charles Loomis twice, while Rains shot him (Loomis) in the arm. Up to this time not a single weapon was drawn by a Coronado man, but after these three shots were fired by Coulter and Rains, it seemed for thirty seconds from pistol reports, that every man in and near the crowd was shooting. When the smoke cleared away the old maxim was verified: Death loves a shining mark, and in Coulter and Rains it certainly had struck two daisies."

rn

Account taken from the Leoti Standard, March 2, 1887

"On Sunday morning the town of Coronado was the scene of one of the most cowardly and dastardly crimes ever perpetrated in any community that had any pretense of being civilized, it being the shooting from the back of seven of our best and most respected citizens. The victims were Charles Coulter, instantly killed; Wm. Rains, instantly killed; George Watkins, fatally wounded; Frank Jenness, shot six times; A.R. Boorey, shot three times; Emmet Denning, leg broken by shot.

The bitter fight caused by the county seat fight and the way Leoti has beaten her opponent by might of right, and right of might, is well known. Coronado had been satisfied until Sunday to carry on the fight by trickery, fraud, lies, and forgery, and in this way had managed to make the town and people despised by all who had the slightest insight into the matter. A note was placed in Mr. Coulter’s hands on Sunday, inviting him over that afternoon and telling him to bring a friend or two with him and have a good time. It had been customary to visit back and forth, so in the afternoon the crowd of seven went over. They arrived there about two o’clock, and after a couple of hours of pleasant chatting with their friends and acquaintances, they all got in the buggy and started off. As they drove by the bank building Frank Lilly, standing in front of the bank, applied some foul name to Mr. Rains, at the same time making a motion as if to draw a gun. Rains sprang from the buggy and said that Lilly would have to fight for that. Lilly replied that he had no gun, whereupon Rains handed his gun to one of the party in the buggy and offered to fight with his fists. Lilly refused and Rains took his revolver and returned it to his pocket. Meantime Coulter, Denning, and Johnson had gotten out of the buggy. Charles and ‘Red’ Loomis, and John Knapp were standing near the bank at the time. As Rains put up his gun he remarked that he could easily whip Lilly. Lilly retaliated by calling him a liar, at which Rains drew his revolver and struck him over the head, mashing his hat, but not knocking him down. The men in ambush who were awaiting the signal, now opened a volley of some sixty or seventy-five guns on the unsuspecting crowd (from Leoti). Every man was shot; shot from the back. The four men on the ground were brought down and of the three in the buggy, Watkins and Jenness fell out. The horses were shot and started to run away, with Boorey still in the buggy.

After falling from the buggy Jenness got on his feet and started toward Leoti on a run. A number of shots were fired at him, five taking effect. The men of Coronado now ran out and commenced shooting at closer range, and after Coulter and Rains both were dead, put the muzzles of their guns against them and fired."

Depot at Selkirk

The Shallow Water Depot will hopefully find its permanent setting at Selkirk, Kansas, after making its fifth move in over a hundred and thirteen years and restored as it would have looked in 1887.

The building had to be sold and removed from it?s present location at Pierceville caused by the new four-lane highway being built across Kansas. This is an excellent building and will add much character to the Selkirk site. We have been told this depot started at the Alfalfa station site, on the Garden City, Gulf & Northern Railway between Garden City and Scott City, Kansas, which was only 35 miles long. The first passenger train to Scott City ran on Dec. 30, 1909. The train only had to maintain a 20 m.p.h. schedule, so would stop and let people on or off anywhere along the line! The legal description of Alfalfa was Range 33 W, Twp. 23 S, Sec. 11 in Finney County. A very small shelter was built at Shallow Water, and the larger depot at Alfalfa. Before long Shallow Water was needing a real depot, and the two buildings were exchanged, very possible loaded on a railroad car and moved. The line was purchased by the Santa Fe Railway.

The large hip roof is made of slate tiles and is in excellent condition. The depot will be painted the original color of the Santa Fe Railway, which was brick red with green trim and the name of “Selkirk” will be painted on the ends. The area will be landscaped and a brick platform will be laid in the front of the building. A security system will also be installed. A plan in the distant future is a replica of the large water tank to be built. An application to the National Register of Historic Places has been made, having made our first application to the Kansas State Register and receiving their nomination to apply to the National Register.

The historic depot sets the atmosphere with perfection. While being an excellent display of the past railroad history in itself, the depot will be used as an area for the railroad model displays and other railroad artifacts, rest rooms and a gift shop. Landscaping and picnic tables are also in the future plans. Word from an official of the National Railway Co. is that they know of no other railroad well in existence.

– Wichita County Historical Society

Museum of the Great Plains

Learn about the famed Leoti/Coronado County Seat Fight of 1887.

We have a large collection of violins, Marion Bonner fossils, and pioneer and old west artifacts.

Recently the museum received a new railroad collection of Richard L. George. Richard began his railroad career as a fireman in the early 1940?s and went on to become an engineer of steam locomotives. One of Richard?s favorite engines, which he drove, was Santa Fe?s streamlined steam engine, the “Blue Goose”.

Items includes the engineer “weigh box”, which the engineer must take on each run. It is filled with many of Mr. George’s instruction manuals, train orders, souvenirs of railroad fairs, and photographs of trains. Among the collection was a train track jack, a railroad pick, many assorted railroad lanterns, and a large framed lithograph of the beautiful Santa Fe “Blue Goose”, and one of the Union Station in Kansas City.

Richard enjoyed the art of photography and took many slides and movies of trains and railroad. There are photographs of trains, wrecks, blizzards and many of the Kansas Flood of 1951. Richard made several scrapbooks of the newspaper articles of the stories of the flood, among these pages are his train orders at the time of the flood. He has written a detailed story in diary form of his involvement at this time of such terrible destruction. All of these photos, scrapbooks, slides, and footage of movies have been donated to the museum. This in itself is a fantastic “first account” piece of history.