In 1939, there were two concurrent World’s Fairs being held in the United States: the New York World’s Fair, and the Golden Gate International Exposition a continent away in San Francisco. That April, the cover of an issue of The Saturday Evening Post depicted two cars, each emblazoned with “World’s Fair or Bust,” passing each other in opposite directions under a fictional signpost marking the mid-point between the two cities. As it turns out, that imaginary signpost would have been located on U.S. Highway 50 just outside Kinsley, Kansas. The county seat of Edwards County has been promoting itself as “Midway, USA” ever since, but without managing to attract much national attention.
Fast forward three-quarters of a century. My close friend Rusty — an old co-worker and riding buddy of mine who relocated to Colorado years ago — suggested we get together for a motorcycle ride; the only problem is that he lives 620 miles west of me. I suggested that my wife and I should meet him halfway. A quick check of Google Maps indicated that the halfway point between his house in Pueblo and mine in Kansas City was within three miles of…Kinsley, Kansas. Even living less than 4-1/2 hours away, I had never heard of Kinsley. But once I learned of its long reputation as THE half-way point, kismet demanded we meet there. Not long after, under a cloudy June sky, we did.
What we found there was a quirky, threadworn small town whose acme had long passed without ever quite realizing its potential. But thanks to my equally quirky and optimistic traveling companions and the town’s genuinely sincere citizens, plus the great excuse for plenty of miles on sparsely populated rural roads, it was definitely worth the trip.