You are here

Salina in the 1800s

When Kansas Wesleyan University opened its doors on September 15, 1886, in the rural south side of town, life in Salina was simple. Downtown boasted a general store, which doubled as a post office and a place to catch up on all the news of the town. There were several mills, a carriage and wagon factory and a farm implement works. Kansas had been a state for 25 years in 1886. Electricity had only been on the scene for three years. The principle mode of transportation was a wagon pulled by oxen, horses or mules. The wholesale wheat and milling industries drove Salina’s growth—the city would become the third-largest producer in the state and the sixth largest in the United States. The first factory of denim jeans maker Harry David Lee opened in 1889 in Salina. The 1880s was a time of relative prosperity for Kansas, and growing communities wanted the honor of possessing a college of its own. Colleges sprung up across Kansas, including Bethany College (1882), The College of Emporia (1882), Southwestern College
(1885), McPherson College (1887) and Bethel College (1887).