Why is the area called Smoky Hills?
There are several possibilities for the name.
According to an early edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the word “Kansas” in the Indian vernacular means “Smoky Water.” This reference applies particularly to the stream commonly known as the Smoky Hill. Indians who lived and hunted along this stream for ages considered the Smoky Hill and Kansas rivers one and the same stream.
George Bird Grinnell, the historian, has a different version for the origin of the name. He says that a large grove of cottonwoods about twenty-five miles west of old Fort Wallace, an old camping ground and burial place of the Indians along the river, was a landmark in that locality and could be seen for miles. At a distance those trees appeared like a cloud of smoke, thus giving rise to the name Smoky Hill, which he said was given by the Indians.
In local legend the name comes from the smoky appearance of the area when seen from a distance.
In summary, early explorers and settlers, who noticed the blue-gray haze that hung among the sandstone bluffs and dark rock formations, gave the region the name Smoky Hills. Another legend tells of early travelers who thought the cottonwood trees swaying in the wind along the riverbeds gave the impression smoke hovering in the air.
How did Salina get its name?
The name Saline was given was given to the river, and later to the county on account of the salt marshes in this section. Saline refers to the high salt content of the river, which probably comes from the large salt mines farther south near Hutchinson. The name of the town, Salina, is probably a variation of Saline.
Pronunciation of Saline is Say - leen'. Salina is pronounced Suh - li' - nah.
What is the history of Smoky Hill Museum?
In 1879, town founder W. A. Phillips organized the Saline County Historical Society. Members were required to donate an artifact. When A. M. Campbell, another town founder, became secretary of the SCHS, he and his wife started collecting the artifacts in their home at 122 S. Ninth. Eventually, Campbell and his wife requested space for artifacts at the public library and the collection was moved there.
In 1956 the collection was moved to Oakdale Park and housed in the old swimming pool bathhouse. The Smoky Hill Historical Museum began operating as a history resource branch of the Salina Public Library. By 1984 responsibility for the collection was transferred to the City of Salina and when the City acquired the former post office building, the collection was moved to the basement while the building was being renovated.
The Smoky Hill Museum, located at 211 W. Iron, opened its doors as a free museum, operated by the City of Salina, to the public in October of 1986. In 1996 it was renovated to allow a better storage area for the collection of over 28,000 artifacts that are housed in the basement, which is climate controlled for proper storage. It is very unusual for a small museum to have this type of system. The most recent renovation was in 2005-2006, which included the installation of the permanent exhibit Crossroads of the Heartland. Currently, a special exhibit celebrating Salina’s 150th birthday is featured in the center gallery.
What is the connection between Camp Phillips, Smoky Hill Army Air Field, and Schilling Air Force Base?
By the 1940s, the Smoky Hills region found itself in the middle of World War II with the establishment of Smoky Hill Army Air Field (SHAAF) and Camp Phillips. Construction of the Air Field began in 1942. Originally built to support the B-17 “Flying Fortress” and B-24 heavy bombers, it operated for five years after the end of the war. It was deactivated in 1949.
Camp Phillips was named after Col. William A. Phillips, a town founder who served in the Civil War. It was established as an Army training camp and prisoner of war internment camp in 1942 and served an important role in preparing soldiers for World War II until 1944. It was dismantled in 1945-46.
Smoky Hill Army Air field was later transformed to train pilots and mechanics for the new B-29 “Super Fortress” heavy bomber and in 1951 was designated as a Strategic Air Command Base. On March 16, 1957, SHAAF was renamed Schilling Air Force Base after Col. David Schilling, a WWII fighter pilot. Schilling continued to provide a military influence in the Smoky Hills region until 1966 when the federal government closed the base.
What are “Waiting Wives?”
This term applies to a group of women and children who occupied the living quarters on Schilling Air Force Base after it ceased operation in 1966. During this time, America was becoming involved in the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia. Fort Riley in Junction City was a training area for the Army. As the soldiers were shipped overseas, their families became displaced, so many of them were brought to Salina to live in the housing units until the husband returned from his tour of duty. The area known as Schilling Manor operated from 1965-1974.
Who or what is Salina famous for?
Bill Graves Forty-third Governor of Kansas, 1995-2003
Graves was born in Salina and graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University and the University of Kansas in business. He became the Secretary of State of Kansas in 1990. In 1994 he became one of the youngest Governors in Kansas history. After his term as Governor ended, he served as President of the American Trucking Associations.
GlobalFlyer Aviator Steve Fossett set a world’s record in the GlobalFlyer for the first solo nonstop flight around the world on February 28-March 3, 2005. The flight lasted 67 hours, 1 minute and 10 seconds at an average speed of 342.2 mph over 22,936 statute miles. On March 17, 2006, he set an absolute world record distance over a closed circuit without landing. Both flights began and ended in Salina.
GlobalFlyer; Steve Fossett; Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic sponsor, celebrate.
H.D. Lee International retailer and manufacturer of Lee Jeans
Lee began his business career in Ohio. When he came to Salina, he opened a wholesale grocery business in 1889, but he is best known for his Lee Jeans and other workwear, western wear and casual wear. Recently, the downtown business district in Salina was renamed the “Lee District, Historic Salina Downtown.” The building that served as a warehouse for his wholesale business still stands in the “District.”
Paul Harvey Well-known radio commentator
Although Harvey was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he graduated from the University of Tulsa, he spent three years in Salina as a radio station manager. He is best known for his daily syndicated radio shows “News and Comment” and “The Rest of the Story.”
Steve Hawley NASA astronaut and administrator
Hawley moved to Salina with his family in the early 1960s. After graduating from Salina Central High School, he studied astronomy and received a doctorate degree. He was accepted into the Space Program and in 1984 he flew on the first flight of the space shuttle Discovery. In 1990 he was in charge of placing the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit on a Discover flight. He has recently retired from NASA and will begin teaching at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in the fall of 2008.
Tony’s Pizza This nationally-known brand began in Salina when Dick Barlow opened a small restaurant in downtown Salina. He named his pizza after his brother-in-law Greg “Tony” Paglia. In 1970 the company was purchased by Marvin Schwan who used a small fleet of delivery trucks to deliver pizza to people’s homes and later even grocery stores. Today, Tony’s Pizza, as well as Red Baron Pizza and other frozen foods are manufactured in Salina and delivered throughout the country.