As we celebrate the 150th birthday of Hutchinson and Reno County, we want to go through the years, decade by decade, to see how things have changed and — remarkably — how they have stayed the same. This would not be possible without the efforts of Steve Harmon, the Reno County Museum, and the Hutchinson Public Library, who have made a great effort to supply us with the information and photos that you’ll see in this 15-part series. We hope you enjoy it.
As we turned to the new century, Hutchinson and Reno County continued to grow. Here is a look at the happenings from 1900 to 1910.
1900: Another railroad begins service in Hutchinson as the first Missouri Pacific train arrives in the city. In this modern age of the pandemic, a Pretty Prairie man is arrested for resisting being quarantined for smallpox. Building permits are required for the first time in Hutchinson.
Three people are killed when a street car and train collide. City council passes an ordinance slowing trains down through the city and a watchman is posted at the Main Street crossing. Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt visits Hutchinson. Population of Hutchinson tops 9,000.
1901: Vern Wiley arrives in Hutchinson from Emporia and teams up with A.C. Rorabaugh to form the Rorabaugh Wiley store. The store is in a small room on Main north of 2nd Avenue. They start with a staff of eight store clerks. Carey salt is shipped by railcar to Winfield. On Jan. 7, Reno County Undersheriff Ed Metz is killed when he’s run over by a passenger train. A public library opened with 500 books. The Fair Association is formed with A.J. Sponsel elected president.
1902: Telephone service reaches Sylvia. The Supreme Court upholds Reno County law allowing the selling of land for non-payment of taxes. The sheriff’s tax sale is still held in October. Reno County farmer William Kilbower is owner of the first automobile in the county. On Oct. 26, the Shaw Theatre opened and the Central Kansas Fair was a big hit, but changes are coming.
1903: The area is hit with two major floods. Reno County High School is built in Nickerson. E.B. Smith is the principal. City namesake C.C. Hutchinson pays a visit to the city. He was living in Portland, Oregon, at the time. City council passes ordinance prohibiting hitching posts downtown. All automobiles must drive on the right side of the road. And, over the objections of the city of Topeka, the process starts for making Hutchinson the home of the Kansas State Fair. Population of Reno County tops 30,000.
1904: Reno County adopts a pension plan for the disabled. The city begins a large-scale paving project of city streets. George Gano built the first concrete grain elevator in Hutchinson. City council agrees to build a flood canal 150 feet wide at the bottom. Andrew Carnegie library opens at 5th and Main. City population tops 11,000.
1905: Harsha Canal is finished at a cost of $30,000. Franchise agreement is granted for the first electric street car. The company was headed up by Emerson Carey. A.D. Vint opens the first dry cleaning plant. New Medora Junction is platted one and a half miles from the original Medora after the Rock Island moves its depot. Turon is named a third class city.
1906: First natural gas is piped to Hutchinson. A city council ordinance prohibits the sale or gift of cigarettes to minors. Hutchinson raises $1,000 to help with the relief efforts of the San Francisco earthquake. The city has all-electric trolley cars now replacing horses and mules. Hutchinson purchases the first automotive fire truck. The city of Partridge is incorporated.
1907: Emerson Carey buys 156 acres of land from Woodson Estate for $20,000 to start a new town southeast of the city. Today, it is Careyville. The Rock Island builds a new depot but it doesn’t have the hotel that was in the plans. Morton Salt plant in South Hutchinson lays claim as largest salt facility in the world. A man in a Ford automobile drives from Kansas City to Hutchinson in 19 hours. It was a hot summer as the temperature hit 118 degrees. It didn’t stay that way as lots of schools and businesses close when natural gas supply proves insufficient when the temperature hits -13 degrees.
1908: Amy Alexander becomes the first woman elected into office as she becomes the Reno County Court Clerk. Hutchinson High School seniors strike when a teacher is suspended. A fire in the town of Abbyville destroys all of the town's stores. A gas-filled airship flies over the Kansas State Fair. A new post office opens. Emerson Carey won the state senate seat. City council passes ordinance for milk inspection. Central State Bank was opened by Sam Puterbaugh.
1909: Sylvan Park established. Speed limit in the city is set at 10 mph. Boxer John L. Sullivan referees a wrestling match in the city. H.R. Nickerson passes through in a private railcar but does not stop to visit the town named after him. Hutchinson Ice Company organized. The company is a subsidiary of Morton Salt. A new bridge is built near Avenue A and Main Street.
Check back next Sunday for the next part in this series.