Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beaumont, Kansas

Beaumont, Kansas was once a stagecoach stop on the route between Fredonia and Wichita.

In 1879, it was there, at the top of a steep grade at the northeast corner of Butler County, bordering Greenwood County, that Edwin and Emma Russell built the Summit Hotel. The hotel remains, now rebuilt and renamed the Beaumont Hotel.

The name of the stagecoach line eludes the records - there were many that operated in Kansas after the Civil War, including: The Butterfield, Southwestern Stage Company, the Fort Scott Stage Company, the Southern Kansas Stage Company, and others. Skyways. The stage itself was pretty much the way it is depicted in old western movies, a rocking cradle pulled by four horses. On top rode the driver and one carrying  a shotgun for protection.

Those extolling Kansas and its climate wrote:

The climate is good. The atmosphere is clear and dry and of remarkable purity. Winters are said to be dry and very short, and cattle can graze out nearly the whole year. The heat of the summer is moderated by the pleasant zephyrs which continually sweep across the broad prairies.
Winfield Messenger, August 30, 1872.

Southwestern Stage to Winfield, Kansas
Those who knew the truth, mostly kept it to themselves. But Kansas in the early years was subject to prairie fires, drought, locusts, and the vicissitudes of life.

Read a bit of Mark Twain's Roughing It, an account of his trip by stagecoach.

The Frisco

In 1885, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, better known as the Frisco, established Beaumont as a railroad town with a water tower and engine house. For a short time afterwards, it was a collection point for cattle shipped back east.

Beaumont, Kansas Railroad terminus 1918

Today, the railroad is gone, as are most of the cattle, and many of the people who serviced the railroad and the cattle industry, but Beaumont continues on as a private airstrip for pilots who want to fly in on the week-end.

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