Friday, January 31, 2014

The Santa Fe Reading Room

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Working for the Santa Fe Railroad often meant days away from home and family for conductors, engineers and brakemen. During layovers, employees could spend time in the "Reading Room" provided by the Santa Fe.

Main St., Newton, KS ca. 1911

A social center for railroad employees, the Reading Room in Newton had a library staffed by a librarian and attendant. In some locations, the Reading Room also had rooms to board for employees.

AT and SF Reading Room on W 4th, Newton
Note men on porch roof holding pool cue sticks.

There was also space for games and entertainment.  In Newton, the game of pool was a popular way to pass the time.  Traveling stage shows provided entertainment.   

The Santa Fe Reading Room was torn down in 1929 and the Fred Harvey Laundry building was constructed on the site.


  • HCHM Photo Archives
  • Hurley, L.M. "Mike".  Newton, Kansas #1 Santa Fe Rail Hub 1871-1971. Newton, Ks: Mennonite Press, 1985. 
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