Thursday: Liberal

Summer Road Trip

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) — Our first stop on Day Four of the KSN Summer Road Trip was at the Baker Arts Center, 623 E. Pershing Ave., Liberal. We appreciate the warm welcome!

According to the town’s website, the name Liberal is thanks to a very generous homesteader from the 1880s. S.S. Rogers would share his well water with travelers. When he refused to let them pay for the water, they would often say, “That’s mighty liberal of you.” So, the area became known as the “Liberal Well.”

Rogers added a store and a post office, setting the scene for the town of Liberal. It was incorporated in 1888. The town also got a railroad depot, and more people came.

Part of the area’s rail history includes the Mighty Samson of the Cimarron. It’s a railroad bridge that spans 1,269 feet. It was built in 1939 and is ranked as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Architecture. Three previous bridges at the same location across the Cimarron River collapsed.

Another important piece of the town’s history happened during WWII. It was the site of a B-24 Liberator pilot training base. The base eventually became the town’s airport. Also, military planes would refuel there between the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns.

The largest helium plant in the world is in Liberal. National Helium opened in 1963.

Present-day Liberal is the county seat of Seward County. The town has a population of more than 19,000, while the county has more than 21,000. The average household income is $61,231.

Some of the biggest employers in the area are National Beef, the school district, Seward County Community College, and Southwest Medical Center.

City leaders say they want Liberal to continue to be a community that is liberal with hospitality.

Things to do in Liberal:

Community & Government:

Sponsor: Liberal Convention and Visitors Bureau/Visit Liberal

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