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Wichita, Kansas History


Wichita, seat of Sedgwick County, was named for the Wichita Indians who originally inhabited this area.

1864 J. R. Mead became the first white settler when he opened a trading post on the site of Wichita.

1865 Jesse Chisholm pioneered the Chisholm Trail when J. R. Mead sent him into the southwest with a wagon load of goods to trade with the Indians for buffalo hides.

1865 Wichita was plotted during this year.

1872 A branch of the Santa Fe Railroad arrived at Wichita, and the town "busted-wide-open." A sign was erected at the outskirts of town proclaiming: "Everything goes in Wichita."

1870's Wichita boomed as a cowtown until the late 1870's when settlers fenced off the prairie and the Chisholm Trail with barbed wire, and many cattle drives shifted west to Dodge City.

1889 Mentholatum was invented by Albert Alexander Hyde of Wichita.

1890's The grain from these farms more than equaled the wealth formerly brought by cattle, and Wichita became a trade and milling center.

1895 Wichita State University in Wichita was founded as Fairmount College.

Shortly after 1918 the population of Wichita nearly doubled when a great reservoir of oil was discovered nearby.

1920's The business men of Wichita went to work attracting the aircraft industry.

1925 Walter Anderson, Wichita, one of the founders of the White Castle eating houses and known as the "Hamburger King," operated 22 White Castles. He bought the first one in Wichita with a loan of $60.

1954 Autopilot was invented by David D. Blanton of Wichita.

1956 The 236 mile Kansas Turnpike is completed from Kansas City to Wichita.

1961 Today Wichita is known as the "Air Capital of America."


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