We welcome corrections
CD's - DVD's
Legends' Photo Prints
Ghost Town Prints
Old West Prints
Route 66 Prints
States, Cities &
Photo Art Prints
David Fisk (Lens of
Brookville - Another Crazy Cowtown
Another Kansas cowtown, Brookville got its
start when the tracks of the
Kansas Pacific Railroad
reached the area in 1867.
Located about 15 miles southwest of Salina, its first settler was a man named
John Crittenden. The first buildings erected in the town were the round house
and shops of the
Kansas Pacific Railroad.
That very first year, Brookville was attacked by
Angered by the railroad pushing west into their hunting grounds, a large group
of warriors converged upon the town. Taking refuge, the townsfolk escaped to the
roundhouse where a barricade was hastily thrown up.
then surrounded the building, piled railroad ties against it, and tried to
set the structure on fire. However, the quick thinking railroad crew
jumped on a steam engine and ran it through the doors of the roundhouse,
who quickly fled. The railroad crew then headed for Salina for help. When
they arrived, a dead
was found caught on a wheel of the train.
Two years later, the Kansas Pacific Railroad, intending
on making the town a major shipping point, officially surveyed and laid
out the townsite. The first house in town was built by M. P. Wyman, and
the first store was established by a man named George Snyder. The
settlement grew quickly and in June, 1870, the limits were enlarged by
adding a small addition, and in September, yet another larger addition was
added. The town grew so rapidly that it was incorporated as a city of the
third class, with William Brownhill as its first mayor. Numerous
businesses sprang up including three hotels, one of which was the
Brookville Hotel, whose restaurant, first called the Cowtown Café, would
do business for more than a century in Brookville. A post office was also
established in 1870.
For a time, Brookville was the last station west of
Salina on the Kansas Pacific Railway, making it an important cattle
shipping point as cattle were driven northward from
Indian Territory and
Texas along the
Chisholm Trail to be loaded on freight cars
headed east. Because the railroad had granted the right-of-way for the
townsite, it tried to impose a law that prohibited liquor in the city
limits. This; however failed, as saloonkeepers violated the restriction in
order to serve the thirsty cowboys.
In December, 1874, a lawless event occurred that
horrified the entire community. Two local brothers, by the names of
William and Thomas Anderson, were in a saloon owned by a man named Barney Bohan. When an altercation took place between Bohan and the Anderson
brothers, it ended with the Andersons dead on the floor. The citizens,
excited over the double murders of the local boys, quickly began to make
threats of lynching. Bohan was then quickly taken to Salina and placed in
jail. There, too, citizens wanted to lynch the killer and converged on the
jail with ropes. However, the sheriff had gotten word of the attempt and
took the necessary steps to prevent the prisoner from being taken from the
jail. Bohan was later tried for the murder of William Anderson and
convicted, but an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, where the case
was reversed. He was next placed upon trial for the murder of Thomas
Anderson, found guilty and convicted. He was sentenced to the
Penitentiary for life, but after being there about four years he went
insane and was sent to the State Insane Asylum.
During the 1870s, Brookville peaked with a population
of about 800 people. During this time, the town boasted four general
merchandise stores, a furniture store, hardware store, jewelry store, a
millinery, wagon shop, boot and shoe store, a drug store, a tobacco store,
one elevator, a restaurant, a flour mill, two hotels, a livery stable, and
two lumber yards.
Brookville downtown today, Kathy Weiser,
The Brookville Transcript was first published in November, 1879 by Albin
& Tupper. The town also boasted a Methodist Church and a handsome
two-story stone school house.
By the 1880’s; however, Brookville’s heydays were
beginning to decline and when the railroad relocated its round
house to Junction City in 1889.
It nearly spelled a death knell for the city.
By the turn of the century, Brookville was called home to only about 280
people, but still supported a bank, a newspaper, a post office and a few
Over the next century, Brookville maintained its small
town lifestyle, with its population ebbing and flowing, sometimes nearly
becoming a total ghost town. Despite its decline, one business continued
to hang on – the Brookville Hotel restaurant. The hotel was purchased in
1894 by Gus and Mae Magnuson and gained a well-earned reputation for its
great food. But it was Magnuson's daughter, Helen Martin, who originated
the famous family style chicken dinners in 1915.
The hotel passed into her
hands in 1933 and during World War II, it became even more famous as
thousands of soldiers traveled from nearby Camp Phillips and the Smoky
Hill Air Base. But when the war ended and Interstate Highways 70 and 135
were built near Salina, the town went into decline again. Still, the
Brookville Hotel Restaurant hung on, well, at least until the year
2000. Though the old building still stands in Brookville, the restaurant
itself was moved to
Abilene, closer to I-70. Established in a building
that looks like the original hotel, the Martin family continues to serve
its famous family style chicken dinners. The "new” Brookfield Hotel is
located at 105 E. Lafayette, one block north of I-70, in
Today, though Brookville continues to support a
population of about 250 people, we could find no open businesses other
than the post office when we were there in 2009. Today, it has become mostly a bedroom community to Salina commuters.
is well worth a visit to check out its unpaved and dusty streets
and lined with sandstone buildings and wooden
storefronts that look very much like they did over a century ago. Its
beautiful two-story stone school, last used
in 1996, continues to stand. Brookville is located about 15 miles
southwest of Salina on
Kansas Highway 140.
of America, updated October, 2013.
The more than century old school in
Brookville continues to stand, though students last attended here in
1996. Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
Brookville Slide Show:
All images available for photo prints &
editorial downloads HERE.