September 15, 2016
For use: Immediate
Finney County Historical Society
Contact: Steve Quakenbush, 620-272-3664


Southwest Kansans who missed the 100th anniversary celebration of the Garden City Western Railway at the Finney County Historical Museum on Sept. 10 can still see the accompanying exhibit in the museum’s Front Door Gallery.

The display features historic photos of Old Two Bits, the retired 1916 Baldwin steam locomotive in Lee Richardson Zoo, as well as rails, ties and other hardware from the short-line railroad that has served the area since the days when Woodrow Wilson was president.

The celebration marked the opening of the exhibit, which will remain in place for several weeks. The museum is located at 403 S. Fourth in Finnup Park, and viewing hours run from 1 to 5 p.m. seven days of the week. Admission is free.

The exhibit is sponsored by Pioneer Railcorp of Peoria, Ill., which owns and operates the local railroad today. The Garden City Western, now covering 40 miles, was created in 1916 to serve a large factory at the southwest edge of Garden City, first opened in 1906 by the Garden City Sugar Company. The locomotive hauled sugar beets from stops throughout the area to the factory, which operated until 1955.

A diesel locomotive went into service with the railroad in 1946, and six years later the original coal-powered locomotive – by that time converted to oil — was donated and located at the zoo, where it has been viewed by generations of visitors.

The museum is also opening the 2016 fall series of Evening at the Museum history presentations at 7 p.m. Sept. 20. The program, entitled “The Art of Collecting,” will feature antique buyer, seller and collector Jody Bennett, offering information and insights. The presentation is free to the public, sponsored by Kansas Chapter 62 of the AT&T Pioneers, with dessert and beverages provided.