Best Kept Secret in SEK
In May 1880, the town was incorporated in Kansas. At that time railroads were one of the major influences in Cherryvale. The thrill and romance that accompanied the advent of the railroad, and the discovery of an abundance of oil and natural gas reserves has left the town with a history that few towns can compare with.
The railroad boom began in 1879, when
the St. Louis-San Francisco "Frisco" Railway reached Cherryvale, crossing
the already built Atchison-Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. By 1886, there were
railroads branching in many different directions. The Frisco and the Santa
Fe railroads both built big beautiful depots in Cherryvale. The Frisco depot
dismantled after a fire. The Dick Webb family took possession of the Santa
Fe Depot in 1992 when they purchased the rail line. The Heart of the
Heartlands, railroad enthusiasts, restored it back to the elegant grandeur of
its original 1910 status. Today there are many freight trains running
through the town and many hope that someday, regularly scheduled passenger
cars will again travel through Cherryvale along with the present excursion
trains operated and sponsored by the Heartland group and the Webb family's
Another first business of major importance was the flour mill established in 1873 by a man named Dodd. In 1902, the Sauer-Stephens Milling Co purchased it. The city's first natural gas well was drilled at Fourth and Labette Streets in 1887. By the turn-of-the-century, more than 30 gas wells were producing inside the city limits. The town soon caught the attention of capitalists back east.
With this discovery of the abundance of oil and natural
gas reserves to supply an inexpensive source of fuel, brick factories began
opening, eventually causing Cherryvale to emerge as a leader in the brick
industry. By 1908, from these shale mounds, six plants were producing the
world's best bricks estimated at 500,000 bricks per day: the Coffeyville
Vitrified Brick and Tile Company, the Cherryvale Brick Company, the
Southwestern Brick Company, the Federal Betterment Company, Union Brick and
Gas Company, and the W.H. Crowl Brick and Tile Company. The most sought after Cherryvale
bricks today, Don't Spit On the Sidewalk, was a project of a Topeka
doctor to help stamp out tuberculosis. These special bricks were
manufactured by the Coffeyville Vitrified Brick and Tile Company located
south of Cherryvale's city limits in Corbin City. The Corbin City brick
plant was considered the Nation's leader in brick manufacturing. According
to an article in the Cherryvale Republican of 1910, local residents were
miffed that the bricks placed in miles of sidewalks and roads across the
Midwest did not carry Cherryvale's name. With the passing of the smelter boom
and the new competition of cement, the brick plants closed in 1930.
By 1901, the town was booming with a glass factory, shovel and barrel factories, a marble works, an iron works, two grain elevators serviced by the railroads, and a bicycle factory. The cigar factory, Cahters & Stahl who pioneered political campaigns on cigars, was built in 1888 at 103 1/2 East Main Street. The firm would produce 17,000 cigars each month and now is one of the best known cigar firms in the Midwest. In 1896, Robert H. Cloughley, a railroader, built the first steam driven automobile west of the Mississippi. The engine was similar to a railroad steam engine. The streamer auto company after about one year due to lack of financial backing..
Deregulation of the railroads during the 1970s created large scale abandonment of tracks and rail service, hurting a town already suffering from the shutdown of its major industries. But that endowing pioneer spirit held by the strong men and women influencing Cherryvale from its beginnings still existed and they kept their town alive and vibrant.
Investors, recognizing their potential in town, opened Vallis Wingroff, an international printing company in 1964. One of the town's most affluent families opened Gragg Cabinets & Fixture Shop in the late 1960s and later in 1969, opened Charloma Fiberglass Company, manufacturers of fiberglass bathtubs, showers, and a one-piece shower stall. In 1997, the only remaining Cherryvale hotel out of 19 that existed during the turn-of-the-century, was discovered and purchased by two preservationists and railroad historians from California. They are in the process of restoring the beautiful 1912 brick building into a Railroad Bed & Breakfast Inn and Museum. With their encouragement, insight, and expertise, the City of Cherryvale and surrounding area have become more actively involved with historic preservation. The Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast restoration project may be that new dawn on the horizon this little southeast Kansas town has been long awaiting.
Cherryvale can boast of having quite a number of famous people who were born and/or grew up there, including Vivian Vance who became famous playing Ethel Mertz in the I Love Lucy TV show. Louise Brooks, a silent film star, Raymond Wheaton, one of the original Ink Spots music group, Frank Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance, and Thurlow Lieurance, famous for translating Indian chants and liturgies into contemporary orchestra works are a few of these celebrities. The infamous Bender Family committed their murdering atrocities northeast of town. Theodore Roosevelt spoke at Cherryvale's famous Logan Community Park. Senator Warren Harding, who became the U.S. President from 1921 to 1923, spoke at Logan Park while on a Chautauqua Series in 1898. Charles Curtis, U.S. Vice President during the Herbert Hoover administration, also spoke at Logan Community Park while still a U.S. Senator from Kansas. John Phillips Sousa, the March King, presented a rousing parade down Cherryvale's Main Street in 1911. Charles Lindbergh, while flying his famous Spirit of St. Louis across this country from San Diego to St. Louis, lost his whereabouts and used the configuration of railroad tracks that crossed Cherryvale as a beacon to get back on course. At that time, radar had not yet been invented and aviation maps were unavailable. He was 50-miles off course due to strong tail wind during the night.
The Pearson-Skubitz Big Hill Lake and Park, 5-miles east of Cherryvale, is busy year around as people, attracted from all over the United States, gather to enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, boating, swimming and other recreational activities. It's a wonderful place for family get-togethers and reunions. Many consider Big Hill Lake one to the clearest freshwater lakes in Kansas and possibly another "best kept secret in southeast Kansas."
Today, farming and ranching effectively utilize the abundant native grasses and fertile bottom lands surrounding the town. In Cherryvale one can have the best of two worlds. There are many fine churches, good schools, medical facilities, and pleasant small businesses. There is a good library, post office, and supermarket, but above all, a safe environment to raise a family. Yes, the town has experienced some drastic changes in the past, but there still exists that spirit of patriotism and success in most of its citizens, who not only envision the town as a great site for business and manufacturing, but for tourism as well. Come and enjoy "The Best Kept Secret in SEK" (South East Kansas).
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Historic Points of Interest
1870 Santa Fe Lake Tanko, Road's end at South Galveston Street. Built to draw fresh water for the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railway and later the Santa Fe's steam locomotives, this 45-acre lake was deeded by the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe Railway to the city as a New Years gift in 1954. By special agreement, it also supplied water for early Cherryvale, water not exactly suited for drinking, but fire protection and similar purposes. Since most citizens depended on private cisterns at this time, only the more reckless people used this water. When the Santa Fe discontinued its use, the lake found no practical use. On April 1, 1957, fishing opened at the lake and since then it has been a favorite fishing spot for local residents. It is now part of the Cherryvale Recreation Commission with three baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts, a picnic area, fishing berms, and sometimes an ideal skating place.
1881 Logan Memorial Veteran's Park, 326 South Liberty. This memorial park has served Cherryvale since 1881 when the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad offered the six-acre tract to the city. The park is named after General John A. Logan, first Commander-In-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1868 to 1871. In 1895, the first Civil War Old Solders' Southern Kansas Reunion was celebrated there. They leased the park for a two-week period each year for 99 years.
This reunion was replaced in the mid-1950s with the area's Annual Youth 4-H Fair held in June. Cherryvale's Memorial War Monument fronts old State Highway 169 (Liberty Avenue). The park is the center of community activities with public swimming pool, tennis courts, high school football field and track, playground, and picnic facilities. The Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in May is held in this community park. City Hall, 620 336-2776.
1882 Cherryvale Downtown Business District, 100 block on East and West Main Street. Since Cherryvale had six brick factories, most of the streets, sidewalks, and downtown buildings were constructed from these bricks. 1882 saw the advent of sun-dried brick streets. The wood planked sidewalks were replaced in 1898 with kiln bricks from the Corbin plant and later, in the early 1900s, the brick sidewalks were widened to sixteen feet. Late 1800s saw the multiple use of gas throughout Cherryvale as a result of its immense underground natural gas fields and its use as a clean cheap fuel.
The downtown streets were electrified in 1888. Water came to the downtown area in 1899 from Lake Tanko and in 1904 the first sewers were put into service. In 1899, a local and long distance telephone system was installed. Today, the remaining buildings of downtown Cherryvale remain the same as built at the turn-of-the-century. To contact the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce, please telephone 620 336-2105.
Circa 1888 St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, Located west of town on County Road 5300. This four acre plot is enclosed by a Victorian iron fence with a central impressive sculpture of the Crucifixion. One is impressed by its quiet peacefulness. The oldest dated gravestone is dated July 26, 1888.
1888 Mt. Zion Community Church, Located northeast of town at 20052 Chase Road. This nondenominational restored historical country church is located adjacent to Big Hill Lake. Built for the Mt. Zion community and the Osage Indians settled along Big Hill Creek, this Methodist Episcopal church was forced to close in 1963. The church stood vacant for two decades with years of emptiness taking its toll on the building and the grounds. Local citizens restored the church in 1982. A ceiling fixture from the demolished Cherryvale Frisco Depot now lights the church interior. Sunday services are held weekly at 8-9am, allowing those who attend elsewhere to join their own churches. Weddings and funerals are still held at this historic church. The church was recognized as a Kansas Historical Site in July of 1979.
1898 Frank Bellamy Home, 916 East 7th Street, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB OCCUPANTS. As a student in Cherryvale Central High School, Frank Bellamy brought the Pledge of Allegiance into national focus as a winner in a 1892 national student contest. The pledge was first officially used in a national celebration coinciding with the opening of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A veteran of the Spanish-American War, he is buried in Cherryvale's Fairview Cemetery.
1900 Municipal Waterworks, 5772 County Road 4800. In 1900, a 50-acre lake was constructed on a 150-acre site south east of town for a municipal waterworks. Eleven years later the city switched its source to the Verdigris River. Today, the Lakeview Country Golf Club & Resort is cradled by the reflective lake.
It is open 7 days a week, with a 9-hole golf course featuring a putting green, driving range and pro shop. Scrambles, tournaments and seasonal leagues can be organized. Golf cart rentals and storage are available. Boat rentals, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, horse rentals, and RV parking is provided around the lake. The Expressions Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and carry outs. Nightly entertainment and dancing is enjoyed along with a full bar. Golf Resort, 888 522-2582 or 620 336-3020.
1906 Louise Brooks Birthplace, 531 East 7th Street,
PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB OCCUPANTS. Born Mary Louise Brooks on
November 14, 1906, Louise Brooks was the most erotic silent screen star of her time, if
not all time. But a hellcat behind the scenes. She conquered New York,
Hollywood and Berlin, burning more bridges behind her than any other
in the end, she still carved immortality out of defeat. Her second home in Cherryvale is located at 322 East 2nd Street.
1910 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Depot & Park, 123 North Depot Street, DO NOT DISTURB OCCUPANTS. This distinctive Mission-style AT&SF depot with its covered drive-through entrance portico and a covered outside waiting platform is located 2-blocks south of the Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast. It is the only depot of this style left standing on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's former Southern Kansas Lines.
1912 Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast,
420 North Depot Street.
The only local hotel left among the
19 hotels built in Cherryvale's bygone era. This historic hotel, adjacent to the crossing
tracks of AT&SF and Frisco railroads and across the road from the site
of the old
Frisco Depot, provided food
and lodging for rail travelers and was vital in housing train crews. The
restored AT&SF depot is located just 2-blocks south. A 3-block brick train
platform, directly across Depot Street from the hotel, connected the two
depots together. The hotel originally contained 32 rooms, a large lounge,
a commercial kitchen, and large dining room which was often converted into
a ball room, This stately structure is lovingly and thoughtfully being
restored to the ambience of its past splendor and railroad history. Phone,
White Rose Gasoline Station,
Corner of East Main and Olive Street.
Possibly the first
service station in Cherryvale, it was located on the graveled country main
north/south route through town, which is now Olive Street. Later Liberty
Street or Highway 169 was constructed as the major north/south alignment
through town. The present owner of the property, grandson of the
original owner, is considering restoring
You know you're in a small town when the only traffic jams are caused when a farmer drives his combine down Main Street...
© 1999-2008 Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast. Web Site created, compiled and maintained by Wayne Hallowell, Director of the Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast
information is part of the heritage of Cherryvale, Kansas and the legacy of the
Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast
A Railroad Hotel bed & breakfast / Suites and Museum
420 North Depot Street Cherryvale, KS 67335
Information and Reservations 620 336-3350
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