Kinsley, Kansas: Midway USA


After driving for miles over the flat landscape of Kansas, you might swear you’re in the middle of nowhere.  Then you arrive in Kinsley, and realize you’re actually in the middle of America. On the west side of Kinsley, where US 50 and US 56 split, there’s a roadside park…

… that includes the town’s most famous sign.  Standing here, you’re exactly 1,561 miles from either New York or San Francisco.

Don’t be confused, this isn’t the midpoint of US 50.  In fact, US 50 doesn’t even run all the way to New York City–it ends in Washington, D.C.  Nowadays, US 50 doesn’t run to San Francisco either.  It used to, but now it ends in Sacramento.

Along with the sign and the roadside park, there’s also the (free) Edwards County Sod House & Museum…

… and a locomotive.  A staircase allows you to climb up into the engine compartment.

If you’re intent on following the “Loneliest Road in America”, US 50, but you’d also like to continue to follow the Santa Fe Trail (which more closely parallels US 56), consider this: when first routed, US 50 originally had “north” and “south” routes.  US 50N became US 56, when the feds began phasing out split routes.  So, even if you choose to follow US 56 (as I did on this trip), you’re still traveling a historic route of US 50. 

From the US 50/56 split, US 56 travels northeast, cutting a diagonal path across the middle of downtown Kinsley.  The town’s businesses are lined up on 6th Street, across the railroad tracks.  Kinsley has a nice antiques store run by friendly people.  Much to my surprise, it was open on Sunday morning as I drove through.

Back on US 56, you’ll also spot this abandoned cottage-style gas station between the highway and the railroad tracks.

Follow US 56, headed east.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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