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Otis was founded in 1886 by Major E. C. Moderwell,
an investor in the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, from Salina, Kansas. The town was
named for his son, Otis. It had already been determined by by the
Missouri-Pacific Railroad, that as it headed westward it would barrel right
through what was to become Otis.
As the streets were laid out, some were named for
children of the original founders. A new train depot and section house were
built by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad and a post office opened on August 12,
1887. Moderwell donated a plot of ground where the first grade school was built
and the present school still stands. Before long, there were a number of new
businesses opening up in the flourishing city.
Otis' Main Street today, March, 2009, Kathy Weiser.
Methodists first held their services in the school house until they built a new
church in 1895. The Trinity Lutheran Church was founded by settlers who had
immigrated from Russia.
By 1910, Otis had several businesses including a
bank, telegraph and express office, and boasted a population of about 400.
The following year, a cigar factory was built
that was in production for a number of years. When natural gas was discovered in
1928, Otis soon had 50 producing oil and gas wells that brought prosperity and
more people to the town.
In 1943 the Otis Helium Plant was constructed to
extract helium from natural gas. One of the
largest of it's kind, it was originally constructed in 1943 by the United States
government and an entire community was developed south of town to house the
plant workers. Though the plant relocated from its original site and is
privately owned, it continues to operate today. A wind turbine company has also
recently been located in Otis, placing the small town on the forefront of
alternative energy production in western Kansas.
Today, the population of Otis is just a little more than 300 people.
It appears it's been a while since this old service
station filled up an automobile,
Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
of Kansas, updated April, 2010.
An old building in Otis, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
While these old buildings are sad, they are also
somehow hauntingly beautiful, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
From the Rocky Mountain General Store
Greeting Cards - Combining
cards are unique to the
Rocky Mountain General Store.