restricted access Salina: Crossing the Center of the State
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54 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s salina: crossing the center of the state 257 Salina Ahead, you see the buildings of Salina. This city was founded by William Phillips, a lawyer and writer for the New York Tribune who wrote articles about the slavery issue in Kansas. He was a colonel in the Civil War and later became a Kansas congressman. In 1858, Phillips and several other men established the town site of Salina near the confluence of the Saline and Smoky Hill Rivers. One of the men, A. C. Spillman, is given credit for picking the name. The name was first pronounced “Salēna,” but because the group feared that would suggest salty stock water, they changed the pronunciation to “Salı̄na.” The Union Pacific Railroad tracks extended to Salina in 1867. J. G. McCoy, a livestock dealer from Illinois, visited Salina and proposed that it be the end of the Chisholm Trail. Fearing the violence and vices of a cow town, the people rejected McCoy’s offer. Instead, Abilene gained the distinction of being the end of the Chisholm Trail and became the cow town that Salina feared and rejected. Native Americans believed Salina was safe from tornadoes because it was at the confluence of two rivers; this belief is just one of many Indian legends about tornadoes. Maybe they were right, though. As Kansas towns go, Salina has been relatively fortunate in never being in the path of killer tornadoes. 255 Aviators Several prominent people in the world of aviation have come from Salina. These include Glen Martin, who in 1908 flew the first flight of an aircraft that took off under its own power. Martin also invented the first parachute and the first bomber and founded Martin Aircraft in California. Two other famous aviators from Salina were Tom Braniff, the founder of the now-defunct Braniff Airlines, and Steve Hawley, a NASA astronaut who flew on the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Discovery. In 2005, seventy years after Kansan Amelia Earhart attempted to fly solo around the world, adventurer Steve Fossett—the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in a balloon—took off on the first solo, nonstop flight around the world from Salina’s airport. In just over sixty-seven hours and without refueling, he landed back 55 w e s t b o u n d here in Salina. The city was chosen because the airport, the former Shilling Air Force Base, has a runway that is more than 2 miles long. The 25,000-mile flight was financed by Virgin Atlantic Airlines chief Richard Branson. The British billionaire said, “Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be launching this historic record attempt from Salina, Kansas, and I hope that we can add Salina to the roll call of sites like Kitty Hawk which have been the setting for milestones in aviation history.” 253 Blue Beacon The very first Blue Beacon truck wash is at this exit on the right. The concept of a fast multibay truck wash was started here in 1973. There were other truck washes at that time, but drivers commonly had to wait in long lines, and the wash could take forty-five minutes . Blue Beacon introduced high-pressure sprays that made it possible to wash a truck in ten minutes; the company also emphasized attentive care of its customers. Blue Beacon now has a nationwide network of about 100 locations, many with three bays to maintain its short-line, fast-wash reputation. 252 The Wheat State The first railroad car full of wheat traveled from Saline County to New York City in 1870. Within a decade, Salina had three flour mills The Global Flyer piloted by Steve Fossett lands at the Salina airport. (Jim Turner, Turner Photography, courtesy of the Salina Airport Authority) 56 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s and six grain elevators. More than 120 years later, wheat still plays a major role in Salina’s economy, as evidenced by the enormous Cargill-Salina grain elevator seen on the left. This elevator has a 32-million-bushel capacity. The 140 bins are 150 feet tall and from 25 to 35 feet in diameter. Not as visible are six flat storage buildings, each one big enough to house two football fields. An elevator is a cluster of bins...