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Roadside Kansas

Thematic Nomination and Multiple Property Documentation
National Register of Historic Places

Statewide / Multi-County

The range of property types associated with Roadside Kansas is broad. It includes gas stations, automobile service stations, and car dealerships; restaurants, diners, and drive-in restaurants; tourist cabins and motels; drive-in movie theaters; roadside attractions; signage associated with these resources; and other businesses that served the motoring public. Field survey trips focused on numbered US highways and major state routes developed before 1963, including ?business? routes and old highway alignments. Most roadside resources were found on the outskirts of traditional downtown areas and at the intersections of major roads.

Roadside businesses first appeared in Kansas shortly after 1900 when automobiles became available in the United States. By the 1910s, small businesses sprang up offering motorists a place to fill up the car, grab a bite to eat, or spend the night. Most of these businesses were mom-and-pop enterprises, often hastily set up alongside the road to satisfy the needs of passing travelers. It was not uncommon for an industrious owner to open a campground or build a series of tourist cabins for lodging near an improved road. The owner might also erect a small filling or service station and maybe a cafe, to fuel both the vehicle and the passengers. While the appearance, size and location of these businesses has evolved over the past century, travelers? demands for gas, food and lodging has not diminished.


Associated Properties