Kinsley is often described by out-of-towners as the place “where something is always going on”. Our busy residents love a festival, fundraiser, feed, picnic, or party and you would be hard pressed to find a weekend when one of these is not going on.
Located at the junctions of U.S. Highways 50, 56, and 183, many people travel through our town everyday, but only the fortunate ones stop to look around and the truly blessed will stay and become a part of our family. Just 36 miles west of Dodge City and 30 miles north of Greensburg, we are in the center of it all in Southwest Kansas. Come and linger a while and experience “the friendliest place on Earth” as one new resident of Kinsley describes it.
Kinsley is the county seat of Edwards County. It earned the name “Midway USA” by being exactly 1,561 miles from San Francisco to the west and 1,561 miles to New York in the east, inspiring a 1939 Saturday Evening Post cover showing two cars, starting in Kinsley and going in opposite directions, both bearing a sign saying “World’s Fair or Bust.” In 1939, there were two “World’s Fairs”: an eponymous one in New York, and the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.
The town is also referred to as “Midway USA” because in the early 1900’s several family carnivals were started here that traveled to State and local Fairs around the United States. Some of the carnivals were still in existence in the early 1980’s. The National Foundation for Carnival Heritage in Kinsley preserves the traditions of the early family carnival.
The Chicago Workingmen’s Town Company founded Kinsley in 1872, naming it Petersburg for T.J. Peter, a director of the Santa Fe railroad which was then building westward. In 1873 the town was renamed in honor of E.W. Kinsley, a Boston philanthropist who built a block of brick buildings in early downtown Kinsley.
Kinsley had its “Great Train Robbery” January 27, 1878. Bandits attempting to loot the Santa Fe station’s safe and the westbound Pueblo Express were foiled by a young telegrapher named Andrew Kinkade. Four of the gang were later captured by Sheriff Bat Masterson of nearby Dodge City.
Historical Marker on Highway 50 – Just east of Kinsley
Near here, where the Santa Fe Trail followed the Arkansas river, the Battle of Coon Creek was fought June 18, 1848, between some 200 Comanches and Osages and 140 soldiers. Stop to learn about he mysterious “angel of mercy” and the “new” rifles used to defeat the Indians. Notice the strange little sand dunes covered with grass referred to by locals as the “Sandhills”. Maybe you can pick up a jar of the best jelly in town made from a wild fruit called the “Sandhill Plum” which only grows in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Midway USA Sign & Park
Enjoy a rest from your travels in Midway Park, take your picture next to the Midway USA Sign and enjoy some free sites! The sign and park are located at the juncture of Highways 50 and 56. The park features a rest stop complete with picnic tables, bathroom facilities, and playground equipment. The Edwards County Historical Society Museum shares the park and features a steam engine, antique farm equipment, an old church, sod house, museum and murals. Also close by is the All Veterans Memorial.
Edwards County Historical Society Museum and Sod House
A hidden treasure, this museum is one of the most comprehensive in the Southwest! It features everything from farm machinery to dolls and antique clothing and hats. An authentic sod house was built on site in 1958 and the sod cutter that was built to cut the sod is featured here as well. Room vignettes show you what it was like to live in Edwards County through different times in history.
All Veterans Memorial
This stirring tribute to the men and women who have served our nation was built by volunteers who continue to maintain its beauty and dignity. Located in the parking area near the VFW Post on Highway 50, it features a M60A3 tank.
National Foundation for Carnival Heritage Center
The Center preserves the traditions of the family carnival, salutes famous carnival individuals and provides a nostalgic look at a form of entertainment from a simpler time in American life.
The Palace Theatre
Built in 1917, the theatre has been in continuous operation ever since. First Run digital movies on Friday – Sunday nights and tours are available for this site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Civil War Monument
The Kinsley monument, made entirely of cement, was created by a local artist, David A Lester, himself a veteran and commander of the GAR post there. The monument is located in the Hillside Cemetary,a few miles West of Kinsley on 1st Street.
Search for buried treasure about 10 miles south west of Kinsley where a legendary pot of gold was buried in 1850. As legend has it, a caravan of people, returning from the gold rush in California to Boston, were attacked by Indians. Hastily, the people put their gold in an iron pot and buried it for safe keeping until the battle was over. All were killed except for a small girl, who was taken captive. She later escaped from the Indians and told officials what had taken place. In 1888, treasure hunters from Massachusetts came to the area hunting for the treasure for two months. The treasure was never found and to this day the hunt still continues.
Beautiful South Park has a little bit of something for everyone. This site at the south edge of town on US Highway 183 features a new walking trail, outdoor exercise equipment, playground equipment, frisbee gold, picnic areas, city pool, newly renovated baseball diamonds, batting cage, fairgrounds, track, roping arena, sand volleyball, basketball and more!
Kinsley features a variety of restaurant choices to please every pallet as well as wonderful boutiques stores, antiques, and much more! For more information visit our website at www.edwardscounty.org.
For more information about Kinsley and Edwards County contact:
Edwards County Economic Development
PO Box 161
721 Marsh Ave.
Kinsley, KS 67547
or visit our website at www.edwardscounty.org