america, Kansas, Travel

Cross Country Road Trip: The History of Wilson, Kansas’ Midland Railroad Hotel

June 10, 2019

Yesterday was a long day—from starting off at the Country Hall of Fame in Nashville and then visiting the Gateway Arch, to driving until 3 in the morning in a violent storm to a boutique hotel we randomly found. As I said, though, the hotel we stayed at was so charming and full of history, so I do want to spend some time to highlight the unique place and the town.

The 28-room Power Hotel was established in 1899 by a Philadelphia transplant (this is cool because my Pop Pop is from Philly) and served as a popular stop on the Union Pacific Railroad between Kansas City and Denver. According to its website, it was one of the top hotels of the Midwest. A fire in 1902 caused the hotel to be completely gutted and it reopened as the Midland Railroad Hotel, where it continued to be a thriving and modern hotel. It hit hard times during the Great Depression, but managed to stay open by raising chickens on the third floor to serve to its guests. Then in 1978, the hotel owners closed its doors and it remained that was until the Wilson Foundation purchased the building in 1997 for a small $35,000 fee. After a nearly $4 million restoration, the Midland Railroad Hotel opened in 2003 and now sits on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Midland Railroad Hotel

It felt really cool staying in a place with such history, but due to the fact that it was storming like crazy and the place was so old, I couldn’t help but feel a little spooked. I am happy to announce, though, that there were no ghosts spotted during our stay. The hotel is quite charismatic as it looks very similar to how it did in the early 1900s. The room Pop Pop and I got was unique because it was separated into three parts. When you open the door, you walk into a room with bunk beds, a built-in desk and shelving and a TV. It also has its own sink and mirror. Then you pass through a small area with a shower on your left and the toilet on the right before entering the main room which has a queen bed in it and its own sink and mirror. It really was a cool find. You can check out the accommodations here.

It’s all in the details.

Something I discovered during my research before I fell asleep was that Wilson is the Czech capital of Kansas, due to the large amount of Czech settlers that came in its early history. Breakfast was included in our stay and I got to try a Czech Kolache, which is a sweet bread with a jam filling. It wasn’t my favorite thing, but it wasn’t bad by any means.

On our way out of Wilson, which really does look like it’s been frozen in history because it is so small and old, we saw the World’s Largest Czech Egg and a piece of the historic Union Pacific Railroad. It’s so bewildering to imagine people 100 years ago hopping off the train in their 1920s dress and heading to the Midland hotel, and then comparing it to the process in modern times. You gotta love some history!

The World’s Largest Czech Egg

There’s apparently a few things to do around Wilson, such as learning about the Czech heritage and nearby wilderness exploration. While we had no time for that, Pop Pop and I definitely found a hidden gem and I would encourage anyone driving west through Kansas on I-70 to take a look at this rare place.

With that said, it’s time for Colorado!

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 9.00.53 AM
Photo from Mapquest.

4 thoughts on “Cross Country Road Trip: The History of Wilson, Kansas’ Midland Railroad Hotel”

  1. I concur that the food would not be my favorite. That being said, it was interesting, unique and something we would not have experienced but for our misadventure with reservations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m learning all sorts of historic facts from you! I’ve driven through Kansas many
    times, but never stopped at Wilson. Good for you.


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