McPherson, Kansas


After traveling for an entire day, and never once coming within sight of an interstate highway, McPherson finally gives you the chance to abandon the two-lane roads, and hop on a freeway.  Interstate 135 will take you quickly to Wichita, or up to I-70.  If you’re tired of level land and small towns, and just want to reach your destination in the quickest and most boring way possible, hop on the highway.  (It would be a shame if you did, since some of the most interesting Kansas towns are still ahead–and they’re a long way from the interstate.)

Since I-135 is on the east side of town, you’ll still need to drive through downtown McPherson, giving you the chance to admire yet another impressive courthouse.  This one looks entirely different than the previous one in Lyons.  The McPherson County Courthouse stands along Kansas Avenue (US 56), just a block west of Main Street.  It was built in 1894 out of Kansas limestone.

Down the street from the courthouse, there are a couple of nicely restored ghost signs on the side of the McPherson Opera House.  The Opera House and the courthouse are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The McPherson Opera House was destined to be demolished (to make room for a bank parking lot, of all things) in 1983.  Over the next three years, local preservationists came together and saved it.  Restoration is scheduled to be complete in 2009.

From McPherson, continue on US 56, to the intersection with US 77.  US 56 turns north here.  Instead, go straight through the intersection, and follow KS Rte. 150 for the next 17 miles, until you reach US 50.  Directions continue on the next page…

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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