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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Friday, January 24, 2014

At U.S. 50 and First Street: Walton Service Stations

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

2014 is off to a great start at the Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives!  Two exhibits opened on January 18 and visitors enjoyed a wonderful Sunday Afternoon Program given by Marti McCartney on January 19.  With this post we will resume our blog schedule of posting once a week.  Look for new posts to be published on Friday of each week.

The small Harvey County town of Walton is our featured community for 2014. Throughout the year, we will post stories related to Walton history. 

Because of the location along the busy Highway 50, Walton is a convenient stop for travelers. As a result service stations have served an important role in the community.  The history of a gas station in a community can be hard to track.  The following is based on information that we have at the Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives.  If you have additional information, corrections or photographs, please contact HCHM.

In 1905, Sylvanus F. Bowser developed a pump that would take gas out of a barrel and fill the tank of an automobile.  The first "filling stations" were often a pump placed on the sidewalk in front of a general store.   

Advertisement for Wayne Cut 276
in Motor Age Magazine, 1912 
This caused congestion as horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians were also on the roads and sidewalks near the store. Soon the idea of a separate 'drive-in' business was adopted.  By the 1920s, the major oil companies were trying to make their product stand out and identifiable with eye catching buildings and signs. 

Standard Oil Co. Service Station, Walton, Ks 

One of the earliest Walton stations was owned and operated by Harry Davis. The Standard Oil Co Service Station was constructed in the early 1920s. The original location is not known at this time, but in the mid-1920s the station was moved to the intersection of 1st Street and Highway 50 to take advantage of the traffic on the new highway.  Davis ran the business from 1923 to 1931.  Dutch Wise was the owner/operator from 1931 to 1937. 
 Standard Oil Station, Walton, 1925
Located at US 50 and !st Street
Owned/operated by Harry Davis
Features two gravity-flow pumps

Standard Oil Co. Service Station, Walton
Model constructed by Leslie Walton 
based on above photograph.
"House with Canopy" style ca. 1920
HCHM Service Station Collection

Gravity Flow Pumps

The owner just set down his coke!

Walton Oil Co. Service Station, Walton, Ks.

Walton Oil Co., Phillips 66
Frank Wise, Owner/Operator

Frank Wise opened Walton Oil Co using the Phillips brand of fuel in the 1930s at the corner of US 50 and First Street in Walton.  He operated a service station in Walton until 1950.

Walton Oil Co., Phillips 66
Frank Wise, Owner/Operator

Walton Oil Co.,Phillips 66
 Frank Wise Owner/Operator on the right
Walton Oil Co.,Phillips 66
 Frank Wise Owner/Operator
Along US 50 at West Main, Walton

Other Walton Service Stations based on information collected by Richard Hege.
  • L.W. Ames Oil Co., owner: Levy Ames; 1923-1930
    • Location south side of Main/east side of 1st.
  • Walton Oil Co. Phillips 66; owner: Gail Reusser,  1938-1963.
  • Farmer's Grain Co-op: Co-op, 1963-2001.
  • Ray Rillings: 1965.
  • B.J.'s: owner: Bill and Gene Tatro and Jeff, Jess and Virgil Hiebert - early 1990s.
  • Hilltop Convenience Store: Rick and Twila VanRossun, ?-2005.
  • Ampride: Ampride, 2001-2005.


  • Hege, Richard.  HCHM Service Station Collection.
  • HCHM Photo Collection.
  • Anderson, Scott.  Check the Oil: Gas Station Collectibles with Prices, 1996
  • Jakle, John A. and Keith A. Sculle.  The Gas Station in America Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • Rosofsky, Ira. "History of the Gas Station",
  • Vieyra, Daniel I.  Fill'er Up: An Architectural History of America's Gas Stations. Macmillan, 1980
  • Witzel, Micheal K.  The American Gas Station: History and Folklore of Gas Stations in America. Barnes and Noble Books, 1999.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Video Game Craze

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

"Games such as 'Pac-Man' and 'Space Invaders' were going into virtually every location in the country, with the exception of maybe funeral parlors, and even a few funeral parlors had video games in the basements.  Absolutely true.  I believe churches and synagogues were about the only types of locations to escape video games." Eddie Adlum in The Ultimate History of Video Games "The Golden Age: 1979-1980"

Do you have fond memories of slipping to the convenience store for a quick video game over your lunch hour?  Did you get caught up in the maze-like game where a cute little creature gobbled up dots while avoiding 'ghosts'? If so, you were part of the "Golden Age" of electronic games that started in 1979-1980.  The game that started it all was Pac-Man.

Developed by Toru Iwatani, a Japanese programmer at Namco, the simple game gave us "the first digital superstar" with the Pac-Man arcade game.  Iwatani set out to design a game that was essentially nonviolent and that would appeal to women. He was successful and electronic games became a part of our culture.  

Pac-Man Trivia
  • Iwatani got his inspiration for the "dot-craving maze crawler" from a missing slice of pizza.
  • The original name for the game was Puck-Man.
  • Between the Japanese and American versions of the game there were 23 distinct names for the 'ghosts'.

A selection of arcade video games will be available to play in HCHM's exhibit, Games People Play.  These games will rotate periodically, so watch facebook for the current games available. 

Starting January 18, 2014, come in and play Pac-Man, Joust, and Kangaroo

Thank you to Keith Neufeld who is loaning a selection of his collection to HCHM for this exhibit.

  • DeMaria, Rusel and Johnny L. Wilson. High Score: the Illustrated History of Electronic Games, McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2004.
  • Herz, J.C. Joystick Nation: How Video Games Ate our Quarters, Won our Hearts, and Rewired our Minds. New York:  Little Brown and Co., 1997.
  • Kent, Steven L., The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and Beyond-the Story Behind the Craze that Touched Our Lives and Changed the World. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

At HCHM in 2013

The Best of 2013 . . . 

Most popular blog posts.

Jayhawk Raceway
HCHM Photo

HCHM Photo

Most popular facebook photo.

Anyone remember sliding down this?
Elephant Slide from Athletic Park
Privately owned
HCHM Photo

Digital Photographs

Our first photograph collection became available on line through a partnership with Ft. Hays State University Forsyth Library at: 

Featured Harvey County Community: Sedgwick

Sedgwick Depot
HCHM Photo

Lloyd Smith Collection

Traveling Exhibits

Following the Chisholm Trail
One of two exhibits installed at the Newton Public Library
HCHM Photo

Installing storm windows on the north and west side.
HCHM Photo 

New Storm Window

Getting ready for the Arcade Games

Myra on the Merry-Go-Round
Volunteers Painting the Merry-Go-Round

Programs and Fun

Joe Smiley with Myra, HCHM's ambassador at the July Ice Cream  Social
HCHM Photo

Red Hat Club at July Ice Cream Social
HCHM Photo

Board/Staff/Volunteer Christmas Party
Joe Smiley and Nancy Krehbiel
HCHM Photo

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