dr martens cherry red boots Hidden history of the Arkansas Valley Interurban

dr marten boot Hidden history of the Arkansas Valley Interurban

Scattered across Sedgwick, Harvey and Reno county are remnants of a forgotten railroad. The tracks were ripped up over 75 years ago but bridges in odd spots and depots in neighborhoods still exist. The Arkansas Valley Interurban, know as the AVI for short, started service in 1910 and it didn’t exactly look like your traditional railroad with an engine and multiple cars.

“An interurban is a hybrid street car and railroad, like you see today. Back then the competition was the steam railroads.”

Drew Meek with the Great Plains Transportation Museum says there was a anther major difference that set this railroad apart from others at the time.

“Electric was the catch phrase for the latest and greatest and for good reason, it was clean it was much cleaner than a steam locomotive.”

The trolly like cars, zipped along the tracks at speeds topping 40mph thanks to overhead electric lines. Electricity allowed the cars to accelerate much quicker than traditional trains and this allowed to make numerous stops along it’s route that stretched from Wichita to Newton and Hutchinson. The line in Newton eventually connected the city to Bethel College and the line that went to Hutchinson had major stops in Halstead and Burrton.

Depots along the AVI still stand in Halstead, Burrton and Hutchinson. A very subtle stop still lives on in Wichita. The Fire Side Room at Botanica was once a free standing stop that allowed riders to get on the train, just south of Sim Park. It was in that very building that Pat Postlethwait, a first grader at the time, hopped off the train.

“We lived in Valley Center and we caught the AVI there and rode it into Wichita. My sister took piano lessons on the west side and got off at the Botanica building. and then we would go on down town and get lunch and then get back on at the Broadview Hotel and ride home to Valley Center.”

At at time when roads were rough and cars were relatively rare, AVI riders rode in comfort. The luxurious cars featured plush leather chairs, varnished wood and even stained glass. Each car also had a wood burning stove for heat and some cars even had separate smoking sections.

Despite the initial popularity of the AVI, ridership struggled during the Great Depression. A series of factors including government works projects that improved local roads and a increasing popularity of cars sealed the railroads fate. After stopping passenger service in 1938, many cars were converted for hauling freight but this service only lasted until 1942 when the tracks were ripped up for the war effort.

Today remnants of the railroad remain along the original line. In downtown Wichita,
dr martens cherry red boots Hidden history of the Arkansas Valley Interurban
the stone archway on the east side of the Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel still bears the AVI’s mark. North of the old Sim Park stop now incorporated into Botanica, the signs are extremely subtle. Perry Ave north of 13th street runs at an angle because of the AVI right of way. Further to the north, between 53rd Street North and 77th Street North is Interurban Street running at an angle that followed the tracks. Numerous bridges are scattered across the countryside in Northern Sedgwick County, Harvey and Reno County. Most of the concrete bridges are on private property but two can easily be viewed along SW 36th in Harvey County between Ridge and Mission Road. Privately owned AVI depots still stand in Halstead, Burrton and Hutchinson.

Bridge Location on Google Maps

As for cars that carried passengers along the line, only two are known to exist. When the railroad dissolved the cars were sold off with some of them going to Bethel College to serve as dormitories. Once the pride of the fleet, Car 12, was sold to a farmer in Bentley and used as grain storage. In the 1980s the Great Plains Transportation Museum rescued what was left of Car 12. Today it is merely a shell of it’s former self and is housed by the Historical Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

Photos courtesy of Harvey County Historical Society, Great Plains Transportation Museum and Drew Meek.

Wichita readying for NCAA tournamentWichita readying for NCAA tournamentWichita readying for NCAA tournament Years of planning are starting to come together in the days before the NCAA basketball tournament comes to Wichita.

Wichita readying for NCAA tournament Years of planning are starting to come together in the days before the NCAA basketball tournament comes to Wichita.

NCAA game times released for WichitaNCAA game times released for WichitaINTRUST Bank Arena officials have released practice and game time schedules for the NCAA tournament games.

INTRUST Bank Arena officials have released practice and game time schedules for the NCAA tournament games.

Shockers draw a No. 4 seed in the East RegionShockers draw a No. 4 seed in the East RegionThe Shockers are tournament bound for the seventh straight season. Wichita State draws a No. 4 seed in the East Region and will battle No. on Friday in San Diego on TNT.

The Shockers are tournament bound for the seventh straight season. Wichita State draws a No. 4 seed in the East Region and will battle No. on Friday in San Diego on TNT.

The Jayhawks are coming to Wichita for the NCAA TournamentThe Jayhawks are coming to Wichita for the NCAA TournamentThe Kansas Jayhawks are heading to Wichita as a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. This is the eighth tie in the last 12 years for KU to earn one of the four top seeds and it’s also the 29th straight year they’ve made an appearance in the NCAAs.

The Kansas Jayhawks are heading to Wichita as a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. This is the eighth tie in the last 12 years for KU to earn one of the four top seeds and it’s also the 29th straight year they’ve made an appearance in the NCAAs.

search group comb Wichita parks on Sunday search group comb Wichita parks on SundayWorking with both sight and canine sense of smell, a group of volunteers are not giving up on finding . “Our motivation is that we do not want Lucas to be forgotten about, search organizer, Julia LaForce said.

Working with both sight and canine sense of smell, a group of volunteers are not giving up on finding . “Our motivation is that we do not want Lucas to be forgotten about, search organizer, Julia LaForce said.
dr martens cherry red boots Hidden history of the Arkansas Valley Interurban