Celebrating the 50-Year Anniversary of Interstate-70

For more than six decades, Interstate 70 has played an important role in the economy and tourism of Kansas. In Trego County, it takes us to work, leads people to our businesses, and even brings WaKeeney’s famous Christmas Tree to our Main Street.

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Photo courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society.

Trego County’s I-70 Dedication Ceremony, the First in NW Kansas

The 22+ mile portion of I-70 that crosses Trego County was dedicated on October 10, 1960 in a ceremony attended by representatives of the governor’s office, state highway department officials, and regional and local dignitaries. The stretch between Ogallah and Collyer was the first portion completed in Northwest Kansas, a full ten years prior to the official completion of the entire stretch of road through our state.

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Photo from the Western Kansas World, courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society. 

“Harold Hillman, president of Chamber of Commerce, waits for ribbon cutting with Vesta and Vera McCoy, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny McCoy and Duane Carlson. The girls held the blue ribbon that was stretched across the south double lane of Interstate 70 highway.” 

“Harold Hillman, president of Chamber of Commerce, waits for ribbon cutting with Vesta and Vera McCoy, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny McCoy and Duane Carlson. The girls held the blue ribbon that was stretched across the south double lane of Interstate 70 highway.” From the Western Kansas World Newspaper, October 1960. Photo courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society.

The ceremony began with the Trego Golden Eagles Band parading down WaKeeny’s Main Street, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony at the rest area between mile markers 130 & 131. Several speeches were given and a concert was performed by the TCHS band. A large group of Trego County residents were in attendance and the ceremony concluded with a buffet luncheon at the Staatz Hotel in Downtown WaKeeney.

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Linking the Country Together

Interstate 70 was an initiative of Kansas-born President Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a World War II general, he was inspired by the Autobahn, Germany’s highway system, and saw a need for a similar transportation network in the United States. Through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, he initiated the construction of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highway.

The 40k-mile highway stretches from Baltimore, Maryland to Cove Fort, Utah, with 424-miles crossing the state of Kansas and 22+ miles crossing Trego County. It was considered the “highway of the future” at the time, and over the last five decades it has become an important link that continues to benefit the people of our communities.

When Western Kansas drivers first took to the road in 1960 there were a few changes to the way they drove. The State Highway Patrol addressed these issues in an article in the Western Kansas World called “Some Do’s and Don’ts on I-70.” Among their directions were: Traffic must travel between 40 and 70-miles an hour, drivers cannot cross the center lane, instructions to enter the highway, and where stop signs were placed in WaKeeney as a result of the additional traffic to the interstate.

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Photo courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society

A Road to Northwest Kansas Attractions

I-70 takes travelers across many of Kansas’s unique events and attractions, including Cedar Bluff State Park in Trego County, Monument Rocks and Castle Rock in Gove County, and Little Jerusalem Badlands, Kansas’s newest state park in Logan County. Other places of note along the route are Sternberg Museum of Natural History (Hays), Fick Fossil and History Museum (Oakley), the Flint Hills Discovery Center (Manhattan), the Territorial Capitol Museum (Lecompton), and the newly renovated Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum (Abilene). Along the way you’ll also find a wide variety of restaurants, locally grown food, and unique shopping experiences.

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Celebrating 50 Years of Travel on I-70

The Kansas I-70 Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by twelve Kansas communities including WaKeeney, is proud to celebrate 50 years of Interstate 70.

The current 16-member association includes Goodland, Colby, Oakley, WaKeeney, Hays, Russell, Salina, Abilene, Junction City, Manhattan, Lecompton, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Bonner Springs, Shawnee and Kansas City. Their goal is to achieve an economic benefit from tourism to their communities. Today, I-70 contributes more than 96,000 jobs and $11 billion dollars in trade and tourism dollars to the towns and cities along its route.

This summer take a drive on Interstate 70 and celebrate “America’s Main Street!”


*Because of closures/schedule changes due to COVID-19 please check availability before traveling.

 

Sit Down to a Satisfying Meal in One of WaKeeney’s Many Restaurants

When the stomach starts to growl and you’re looking for a satisfying meal, take the shortest route to WaKeeney, Kansas, where you’ll enjoy a tasty dinner at any of our ten fine restaurants!

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The Brazen Bull

WaKeeney’s newest restaurant is the The Brazen Bull, a family owned restaurant with a bold take on America’s greatest plated meals. Everyone will find something to love on a menu filled with delicious steaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads choices. They’re open for lunch and dinner, so stop in and check out their new décor. (717 S 2nd St./ph. 785-743-2653)

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Dairy Queen

Looking for a cool and creamy afternoon snack? WaKeeney’s Dairy Queen can mix up your favorite soft serve treat in a jiffy. Along with their wide array of sweet treats, our DQ also offers an entrée menu with salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. Pair your meal with a shake, malt, or their world-famous Blizzard and you’ll leave with a satisfied smile on your face every time you visit. (521 Barclay Avenue/ph. 785-743-2160)

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Hometown Bakery

Head to Hometown Bakery for fresh baked goods and a friendly smile, too! Their bakers craft everything from a scrumptious pies, cookies, and even celebratory cakes! Get there early to enjoy a donut and fresh brewed coffee while you check your email on their free WiFi. (215 N Main St. /ph. 785-743-6496)

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Jake & Chet’s Cafe/Sundowner Lounge

Fresh ingredients, plus years of culinary experience equals a satisfied diner at Jake and Chet’s Cafe and the Sundowner Lounge. From breakfast to dinner, soup to nuts; chefs Jake and Chet cook the meals they love most. Enjoy a rib eye cooked to order, southern fried catfish, or an all-American burger, and then follow it up with a slice of pie a la mode. (233 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2211)

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McDonalds

As America’s most iconic roadside restaurant, everyone is familiar with the great menu offered at a McDonald’s. The WaKeeney McDonald’s drive thru window makes it a quick stop, or you can get out and stretch your legs while you order inside in their air-conditioned dining room. (745 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2911)

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Mike’s Place

Downtown WaKeeney’s hotspot is Mike’s Place, a fun pub where people like to kick back with friends and enjoy a cold beer. They feature regular daily specials of local favorites and always have ice-cold beer on tap and ready for their guests. Stop in at their summer “Cruise Night” events to see vintage cars and chat with their drivers. (111 N 6th St./ph. 785-743-2641)

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Pizza Hut

A local favorite and WaKeeney’s favorite go-to for fast delivery is our local Pizza Hut. Whether you like original, pan or, my personal favorite, thin crust pizza, you’ll get one piled with savory meat, fresh veggies, spicy sauce and gooey melted cheese. Check out their new Wing Street menu for an order of tasty wings and your choice of sauces. (324 S 1st/ph. 785-743-2383 – Call ahead to find out when their buffet is open!)

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Subway

Feel like a meal that’s filled with all your favorite fresh ingredients but you don’t want to do all the work? At WaKeeney’s Subway you can pick the ingredients and let someone else build the perfect sandwich for you in a matter of minutes. Sandwiched inside a loaf of freshly baked bread, your meal will be an easy-to-eat, on-the-go satisfying feast that will get fed and back on the road in no time at all. (718 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-5248)

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Tropical Mexican Restaurant

Take a trip south of the border at Tropical Mexican Restaurant! It doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo to enjoy the great taste of authentic Mexican food. You’ll find all your favorites on Tropical’s menu, like the chicken fajitas or burritos, and don’t miss out on a fruity cocktail or Corona. You’ll feel like you’re basking in the sun at a beachside resort when you sit down to a meal at Tropical Mexican Restaurant! (428 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2219)

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Western Kansas Saloon & Grill

Order up a slice of Trego County history with your meal when you dine at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill. Housed in one of our county’s oldest buildings, the “Saloon’s” menu offers something for everyone. From steak, pasta, and burgers, to salad and sandwiches; you’ll find a delicious selection of entrees, appetizers, and desserts served up with a drink from their fully stocked bar inside an authentic western saloon atmosphere. And, don’t forget to check out the pioneer themed original art by local artist Madeline Musick decorating the walls. (121 N Main St./785-743-2050)

Plan a trip to WaKeeney soon to enjoy all these delicious meals served in the restaurants of Trego County!

Eisenhower Park and the F-14 Fighter Jet of Trego County

Trego - Eisenhower3.jpgAs anyone who loves history knows, Kansas native Dwight D. Eisenhower was a celebrated World War II general prior to becoming the 34th president of the United States. His list of achievements is long, indeed. As Supreme Commander, he led American soldiers on D-Day and as president he sponsored and signed the Civil Rights Bill and connected the entire country via the interstate highway system.

Following the old Highway 40 on its parallel path with the Butterfield Overland Trail, highway planners developed a route that would bring travelers right past WaKeeney. Today, as travelers exit I-70 at WaKeeney’s west exit, Exit 127, they’ll find themselves at the entrance to our city’s beautiful memorial to the man behind the highway, Eisenhower Park.

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The park hugs the southern edge of WaKeeney and is easily accessed via a paved driveway that marks the borders of the park. There’s plenty of space for your pets to explore and kids will be able to stretch their legs after enjoying lunch at one of the many covered picnic tables.

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In 2006, a retired Navy F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jet was added to the park to represent the many military men and women who have fought for this country. The Tomcat, at 62-feet and 40,000 pounds, was dismantled in Ohio and packed onto two trucks (the wings, tailpiece, and flight controls in one, the fuselage on another), which took up nearly two full lanes of the highway.

When the jet arrived in town a team of four retired military men from Virginia rebuilt the jet right in the center of Downtown WaKeeney and many people stopped by to see their work in progress. After it was completed the Tomcat was towed to its’ permanent home in Eisenhower Park, where it can be seen by everyone.

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Today, when you pull off of Exit 127 in WaKeeney, you are able to visit this monument to the military in a park that memorializes one of our country’s greatest commanders.

Cruisin’ Down Wing Street at the WaKeeney Pizza Hut

Our local Pizza Hut has been the go-to place in WaKeeney for piping hot pizza, fresh salads, and a refreshing beer for several generations of families, and after decades of great service you’ll still find the great choices you’ve always loved, plus a few other surprises on their ever evolving menu.

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With the addition of the Wing Street menu, Pizza Hut can now offer several sandwich options, fries, and mouthwatering Buffalo wings with seven different sauces to choose from. Garlic Parmesan, Honey Bar-B-Q, and traditional Buffalo Wing Sauce with medium heat are favorites among the locals, but give the others a try to see which is your choice du jour. They are all winners!

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Come in Monday thru Friday between 11am to 1pm and Sundays from 11am to 1:30pm to enjoy pizza loaded with ingredients and pasta dripping with cheese at the noontime buffet. The kitchen keeps five pizzas, regular bread sticks, a pasta dish, one dessert pizza and cinnamon sticks ready at all times, so there’s no waiting during those quick lunch breaks. Come back Wednesday evening from 5pm to 7pm for our dinner buffet, when families join us for a convenient, delicious meal after their busy day.

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Make a trip down Wing Street to WaKeeney’s Pizza Hut and get a taste of the new menu, where they combine the classic Pizza Hut taste with the spicy, tangy, sweet taste of their new Wing Street menu. Then keep coming back to see what new items will be showing up in the coming months.

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