For this week’s photo essay, I want to feature some photos of where I’ve been working for the majority of the last month – Wichita, Kansas. Wichita is a lot of things – a metropolis, sister city of Cancun, an urban oasis on the plains, the world capital of aviation, and a cowtown. Yes, I said it, Wichita is a cowtown. But I only mean it in the most endearing way for this city that I have been pleasantly surprised by.
Wichita was founded as a stopping point for cattle drives from Texas on their way to the railroad lines. It was a town founded out of the necessity of moving cows around. A Cowtown.
In fact, the original nickname given to Wichita is ‘Cowtown’. But while other major cities have tried to distance themselves from their cowtown pasts, Wichita fully embraces this title, and nowhere is this more evident than in the outdoor living history museum and cultural center aptly named ‘Cowtown.’
Cowtown presents over 60 historical buildings from mid-late 19th century Wichita, giving visitors a glimpse into life on the prairie. I spent an afternoon after work armed with my camera looking to capture the unique old western feel of Cowtown.
Wichita’s Cowtown in Photos
Prairie homesteader house with a place to tie horses up.
A simpler era of advertising for Smith & Keating, before you could like them on facebook.
I hope this was just a prop at the museum, because I definitely did NOT keep off.
The Cowtown butcher shop isn’t a lively place.
Dusty dirt roads and wood-planked sidewalks characterize Cowtown.
The Cowtown general store – a simpler time when retailers picked everything off the shelf for you.
Cowtown’s only resident today.
The saloon actually still serves drinks to thirsty visitors.
Reward posters, or subtle product placement promotion? (I’m looking at you Wells Fargo)
No cowtown is complete without a good haberdasher.
Of course, modern day Wichita has moved on from its humble cowtown beginnings. Interstate highways, high rise buildings, and massive manufacturing plants have grown out of the fertile Kansas plains. But the city has held onto its past, and places like Cowtown serve as a reminder of another era that is still very much a part of Wichita.
Which Cowtown picture is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.