Main Street Kansas: Gas stations turned tiny inns bring nostalgia to Cawker City

Main Street Kansas

The town known for the world’s largest ball of twine is hoping visitors will extend their stay and see what else Cawker City has to offer.

“It’s a very nice little town on the banks of the lake out here, Waconda Lake,” said local businessman, Bill Brummer. “Beautiful for fishing, hunting, recreation of all kinds.”

Now, it’s also a unique place to spend the night!

“The Old Station Inn is right across the street from the ball of twine so people stop to see the ball of twine, take pictures of that,” said Pam Brummer. “Then they turn around and take pictures this way.” 

The Old Station Inn is a re-creation of the gas station that did business in Cawker City in the 1930’s. 

The Brummers found gas pumps and signs, even windows, like the original station, but inside, it’s a mini-motel with two beds.

“It isn’t very big,” said Pam. “That’s why we have a loft for a bed.”

The Brummers bought the building a few years ago, when it was empty and rundown. 

They transformed it, then worked their magic on another old gas station in town– what used to be the Red Crown Standard Oil Company in the 1950’s. It too was about to fall down, when they got it.

“The roof had leaked and run down, and the walls were all rotten,” said Bill.

But now, it’s fresh and inviting again, for up to three guests.

Kathy Blau, who grew up in Cawker City, loves the nostalgic feel.

“I think it’s wonderful because we went on a Route 66 trip last year, and some of the communities, things are in dishevel, and some of them keep it up pretty nice,” said Blau. “I just think this shows some pride, keeping ’em on the map.”

Bill Brummer takes pride in his projects. “It was a real joy to do because it was like we were saving part of the history of this town.”

Especially since he says city leaders once talked of tearing down all the vacant buildings.

“Kind of like a smile with no teeth!” said Bill. “What have you got if all your buildings are gone? Doesn’t say much for your town.”

The Brummers’ next project is an old Valentine diner made decades ago in Wichita. They want to re-open it as a breakfast place in Cawker City.

“Because we don’t have a place to eat here in town really other than our bar and grills,” said Pam.

“Just something neat to get people to stop here more than to run up, look at the ball of twine, and go on,” said Bill. “Maybe they’ll stay the night and spend some money.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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