Earlier, I mentioned our Easter weekend trip to Dodge City, Kansas. But we started having adventures even before we got there, thanks to a stop in Kinsley, Kansas.
We had not planned to stop in Kinsley. But we needed to make a stop due to the doctor’s orders. That would be Dr. Pepper, by the way. A sign in Kinsley said “Rest Area”, so we turned in and were surprised at what we found.
Right in the Middle
As soon as we turned in, this large sign greeted us. We had no idea that we were right in the middle between New York and San Francisco, but here we were. Isn’t it amazing what you can find when you are not even looking? Kinsley is exactly 1561 miles from both New York and San Francisco, although I did not verify that fact with Google Maps. I just trusted the large sign.
Our friend Jennifer had told us that the geographical center of the continental United States is in Kansas, so we sent her a photo of this sign. Not quite the same as what she was talking about, but it is still interesting!
Unfortunately, the Sod House and Museum were closed, because they are only open in the summer. Oh well, there were still other cool things to see…
A Steam Locomotive
The highlight for me was this wonderful old steam locomotive, No. 3424 of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company. If you know me and trains, you will understand. And the photos do not do this locomotive justice. Those large drive wheels are 78" in diameter, which makes them about a foot taller than me. The size of this whole locomotive is just amazing!
The engine and tender together weigh almost 400,000 pounds, and the combined length is 95’-8 1/8". And the tender could hold 20,000 gallons of water! No, I do not know all of that information off of the top of my head. Fortunately, there was a sign on the tender that gave all of the specifics.
The locomotive was built in 1921 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Pennsylvania, and it was converted from coal to oil in 1941. The locomotive was retired in 1953 after traveling over 2 million miles. Again, all of that comes from the plaque on the tender. Interestingly, the locomotive is missing its Baldwin Builder’s plate. Those are sought-after collector’s items, so hopefully someone official has it stored safely instead of it being removed by someone who should not have it.
There were “Keep Off” signs all over the engine and tender. But there were also stairs up into the cab, so of course, we climbed inside to have a look around. Who doesn’t love the complexity of these old steam locomotives? They are so interesting when compared to today’s machines that are just covered in pushbuttons and screens. You really had to know what you were doing to operate one of these.
This locomotive was truly a treat for us to see!
A Church Building
A church building was also located at this park in Kinsley, Kansas. According to the sign by the door, this building was built in 1884 in Wendel, Kansas, before being moved to Centerview and then finally to Kinsley in 1967, where it was eventually donated to the Edwards County HIstorical Society.
What an interesting treasure to have. We would have loved to see the inside of the building, but of course it was closed along with the museum. Maybe we can get back there one of these days when everything is open.
There were also more things there. Inside a fence, there was a large collection of interesting old farm machinery from back in the days when such things were pulled by horses. Each piece had a descriptive sign telling about it, too.
Oh yes, and there were restrooms there, too, which was our first reason for stopping. But we ended up finding so much more.
I would have taken more photos, but I had forgotten to charge my camera batteries the night before. I figured it would not be an issue, because what would we find along the side of the road? That is a lesson to me to keep my camera batteries charged when we go anywhere, because you never know what interesting things you might find! Fortuately, my batteries lasted long enough to get these photos.
History Is Everywhere
This stop in Kinsley, Kansas, was just another reminder that history is everywhere. History is all around us. Every place has a story, and everyone has a story. It is just a matter of seeking out those stories or getting people to tell them.
When you see a sign for a historical marker, it just might be worth stopping to read it, just to see what interesting things happened there. Yes, it might slow you down in getting to your destination, but it just might be worth it in the long run.
There are lots of interesting things out there!
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. - Psalm 66:16
About the Photos
As I mentioned above, my camera batteries were almost dead. I actually have three batteries for my camera, and none of them had a charge. I made sure that did not happen for the rest of the trip. But because of that, I was not all that particular with what I shot. I might have retaken a few of these and framed things slightly differently if I could have. And I might have taken some photos of the farm machinery, too. As I said above, it was just another learning experience.
Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Luminar Neo. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Rokinon 35mm f/1.8
Date: April 15, 2022
Location: Kinsley, Kansas