In a nod to the season, we cast our minds back to memories of Holliday’s past.
Holliday, Kansas, that is.
Holliday, originally named Waseca, was platted in 1882 on the south bank of the Kansas River. It was the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad—founded by the town’s namesake, Cyrus K. Holliday—three years later that breathed life into the small community. As many as 45 workers found employment at the depot, which also served as a refueling station for the steam locomotives of the era.
By the turn of the 20th century, the town was also a hub for farmers in the surrounding area, and in 1910 boasted three general stores, a restaurant, blacksmith shop, barbershop, dance hall, depot, and two churches. Holliday also had two schools: home to a thriving black community, Holliday’s children attended segregated schools.
After World War II, things began to go south for the little town. First, the transition from steam to diesel locomotives diminished Holliday’s importance as a railroad station, and the depot closed in 1949. Then, the big one struck. In the summer of 1951, the Kansas River valley was swept by a historic flood, and the town of Holliday was among the casualties. For nearly a month, the flood waters cut off the people of Holliday from the rest of the world. After the flood, few townspeople rebuilt. The school consolidations of the 1960s shuttered Holliday’s school.
In the years that followed, what remained of the once bustling hamlet fell into disrepair. In 1968, the City of Shawnee annexed the area. A series of fires claimed some of the structures, including one of the historic general stores. By 2002, just eight homes still stood, clustered around the intersection of 50th and Locust Streets. That year, the final death blow fell. Deffenbaugh Industries purchased the town site to expand the Johnson County Landfill, and bulldozers demolished the last vestiges of the little town of Holliday.