The Edwards County Historical Society had a dream to build a museum to preserve the pioneer heritage of Edwards County. Using donated funds, the museum was completed in May 1967. the theme of the museum was Pioneer Life in Edwards County. "Rooms" were arranged with early settler furnishings and clothing. The museum was built close to the Sod House in Midway Park.
A project to build a "Soddie" so people would know how the early settlers of Edwards County lived was planned. Charles Gunkel designed a plow to cut the bluegrass sod and Herman Schaller made the plow. Charles Gunkel, with the help of Dick Miller and Ralph Scott, constructed the sod house from the plowed earth. On August 20, 1958, Kinsley's 85th birthday, the sod house was opened to the public. Wind and rain caused the sod house to start to deteriorate. The Edwards County Historical Society board voted to build in 1999 an addition to the museum that would enclose the sod house. With local and regional support and a grant from the Kansas Tourism Bureau, the sod house was preserved in a climate-controlled addition in 2002.
Santa Fe Engine #3424 was donated to the city of Kinsley on June 7, 1956, by the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railway Company. The engine began its years of service in 1921, and was retired from service in 1953. It is located in the Midway Park for train lovers and travelers to marvel at its size and construction. Close by are picnic tables, a small playground and public restrooms.
With a farm equipment donation by Lawrence Butler, the antique farm equipment collection was started. As the farm equipment collection grew, it was enclosed to keep visitors off the old machinery. It has become a popular part of the museum complex in the Midway Park.
Did your horse need new shoes? New hinges for the barn? If it was metal and needed to be repaired or made, your local blacksmith shop was the place the early settlers went. This picture shows some of the blacksmith’s equipment. At one time, all the towns in Edwards county would have had at least one blacksmith shop. Note the large anvil in the center of the picture.
The Saturday Evening Post, April 22, 1939, front cover featured cars bound for the New York World's Fair and the San Francisco World's fair passing at the mid-way point, 1,561 miles. That point is two miles west of Kinsley on Highway 50. The Kinsley Chamber of Commerce decided it would be a great slogan for publicity and they voted to build a sign and place it at the exact mid-way point. Later the sign was moved to the Midway Park on the west edge of Kinsley. The sign has been renovated several times. The sign is a favorite spot for people to have their pictures taken.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1884 in Wendell, Kansas. it serve the Wendell community until 1917, when the building was moved to Centerview, Kansas. The house of worship was there until 1967, when it was sold at auction to L.E. Brown and was subsequently given to the Edwards County Historical Society. It was then moved to its present location in the Midway Park as part of the museum complex. The church is available for weddings, funerals and special events.
The interior of the church.