Then & Now: The Holliday Edition

In a nod to the season, we cast our minds back to memories of Holliday’s past.

Holliday, Kansas, that is.

Alderson's store

Townspeople gather at Alderson's store in Holliday, late 1800s

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.

Holliday depot

Holliday's depot, about 1940

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.

Holliday School

Holliday School, District No. 100, late 1800s

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.

Flood damage in Holliday

Leonard Stanton and George Lynn survey the flood damage in Holliday, 1951

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.

Johnson County landfill

View of the berm surrounding the Johnson County Landfill



Filed under Cities & Towns, Lost Cities, Research

4 responses to “Then & Now: The Holliday Edition

  1. Zach Scott

    Are there any photos of Holliday, right before everything was razed, say, circa 1990’s? And also, the village of Cedar Junction, maybe in the Seventies or Eighties? Thanks.

  2. Anthony Hurtado

    I lived there. It was a small community with lasting good memories. I can be contacted at

  3. Amanda Scheetz

    I am thrilled to find this article! I’m Leonard Stanton’s great granddaughter and I used to looove to hear Holliday stories. The whole family would just talk about the post office, the old store, etc. for hours upon hours.

  4. Anthony Hurtado

    I was in the store many times. I fell in love with rootbeer there.

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