Kansas Trivia

Name That Town! - August 8, 2014

Q: In 1908, this western Kansas town moved three miles down the road to a new location. The town moved in an attempt to avoid paying back city bonds that had become due. Today, the city’s motto is “A Town on the Move.” Can you name it?

Ulysses hotel-move khsMen prepare to move a hotel to the new Ulysses, Kan. On February 6, 1909, the town was moved from its original location to escape payment of $35,000 in bonds plus $10,000 interest for waterworks and other improvements. The indebtedness was greater than the assessed valuation of the property. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org)


 

A: Ulysses (in Grant County)

 

Ulysses-before-khsA street scene in Ulysses, Kan., before it was moved to a new site on Feb. 6, 1909. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org)

According to cited sources in Wikipedia, the early town of Ulysses, in Grant County, had been bonded heavily for improvements that were never made. The bonds were issued and sold and the money pocketed by early grafters. "Old" Ulysses dwindled from a flourishing town of approximately 1,500 in the late 1880s to a hamlet of 100 residents in 1908. Facing a staggering debt of $84,000 (US $2.2 million in 2014), for which there was absolutely nothing to show, the situation was desperate.

 

Some of the bond holders brought suit and took judgments for several thousand dollars against the city for delinquent interest. The citizens of Ulysses were forced to pay a high levy to meet payment on the judgment. This levy included a 600 percent increase in the realty taxes, and a 362 percent increase on personal property taxes. After paying a year of exorbitant taxes, came the decision which few towns make, the citizens decided to take their belongings and move off the old town site, and out of the school district.

 

Ulysses-new-khsNew Ulysses, Kan. (Photo Courtesy of KHS / kansasmemory.org)The city fathers moved the town a few miles west. The move began the first of February 1909, and continued for roughly three months. Skids were used to move the larger buildings, and the smaller ones were loaded onto wagons. Horse power was used to move the loads. The larger buildings were cut into sections and moved a section at a time. The move was completed in June 1909, when every resident with their homes, business houses and belongings moved from the old town site. The inhabitants moved to the new location and built a new town called New Ulysses. Later in 1909, with the move complete, the former citizens left the old town site just as they had found it, a rolling tract of prairie.

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