LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 
Walker, Kansas - Immigrants to Airbase
Bookmark and Share
 

 

This small town got its start in 1872 by settlers from Ohio. Situated on the Union Pacific Railroad near Walkers Creek. The area was primarily settled by English and German-Russian immigrants. A post office opened in August, 1873, but closed just a few years later in September, 1876. Then a number of  Volga-Germans from Russia and and more Germans from Kentucky and Ohio, known as the "Plattdeutschen," came to the area in 1876-1878. With this new influx of people, the post office reopened in 1878.

 

The first school building was constructed in 1893, which would also later serve as a church. The first Catholic Mass was read in this building on Christmas, 1903 and soon residents began to build the St. Ann's Catholic Church in the spring of 1904.

 

By 1910, the small town boasted a grain elevator, several retail stores, and a population of about 65. The building of a parochial school began in the fall of 1924 and was dedicated the following August, with the Sisters of St. Agnes in charge of the school. The building today continues to stand, now utilized as a community center.

 

 

 

Walker, Kansas Air Base, 1942

Walker Airbase, 1942, photo from Keith Goetz, courtesy, Abandoned &

 Little-Known Airfields of Central Kansas

 

The town thrived until the Great Depression when many of its businesses closed. Those that remained were primarily involved in agriculture until 1942, when the Walker Army Airfield was built during World War II just 2.5 miles northwest of the town. Also known as the Victoria-Pratt Airfield or Walker-Hays Airfield, it was constructed by the United States Army Air Corps. Construction of the airfield included three concrete runways, the cantonment, originally designed for about 1,000 men but later expanded; a dispensary, a mess hall and a hangar. Later, four more hangers were also built.

 

The base began operations as a satellite field of Smoky Hill Army Air Field located in Salina but in February, 1943, the Second Air Force organized the 6th Heavy Bombardment Processing Headquarters there and a few months later, began training B-29 crews for combat duty.  The base continued to expand in both mission and size and by August, 1944, nearly 6,000 personnel were stationed at the field. New structures included storage tanks, warehouses, laboratories, a machine shop, hospital, garage, paint shop, and various other structures.

 

With the victory over Japan in August, 1945, the mission changed and diminished, with only the Salina base continuing combat crew training. Consequently, Walker was reassigned to the Air Technical Service Command in September, 1945 and on January 31, 1946, the base was made inactive. The War Department placed the installation in a surplus category in the middle of 1946 and in December, it was transferred to the District Engineers. Later, portions were leased and finally sold to a private citizen in 1959. Today, its buildings are mostly in ruins but its runways are still used for agricultural purposes.

 

Walker's historic German-Russian St. Ann's Catholic Church still serves parishioners today, and the small town still has an open post office. Walker is located about four miles northwest of Victoria, Kansas on U.S. Highway 40.

 

 

 

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.

 

 

 

Walker Airbase Ruins.

St. Ann's Catholic Church in Walker, Kansas

St. Ann's Catholic Church in Walker, Kansas,  March, 2009, Kathy Weiser.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

From Legends' General Store 

Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases - Autographed

Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases - By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, Owner/Editor of Legends of America - Autographed From the wild and woolly mining camps, to the rampages of the Civil War, to the many cowboys riding on the range, those frontier folks often used terms and phrases that are no longer used in everyday language today. Yet other words and sayings were often specific to certain regions and never used across the states. These terms, as in the past, are still sometimes heard in specific areas, but are “foreign” to the rest of us. From the pages of period newspapers, books, and century old dictionaries comes the slang, lingo, and phrases of the American Frontier. Even if you're not looking for a definition, you'll get a peek into the charm and character of a historic era. In addition to the hundreds of words and phrases, readers will also enjoy more than 150 vintage images.

Signed by the Author. 6x9", paperback -- 132 pages. Published by Legends of America, 1st edition, October, 2015.

 

Made in the USA.  $9.95!  See HERE!   Buy Product

 
  About Us      Contact Us       Article/Photo Use      Guestbook      Legends Of America      Links      Photo Blog      Site Map     Writing Credits  

Copyright © 2009-Present, www.Legends of Kansas.com is a web property of Legends Of America