Woodson County, KS

Stone structure in Kalida, Kansas--photo by Susan Howell

  Woodson County

          On July 14. 1869, Hale Chellis made a plat for the town site of Chellis.  The little town had a post office, general store, and hotel.  Chellis sold his newly formed town site to Thomas Davidson in 1870.  Mr. Davidson made a new plat of the town and named it 'Kalida', which is a Greek word meaning beautiful.

          The population of the newly formed Kalida grew to 500 residents.  The town had a hotel, livery stable, 2 grocery stores, a barber shop, post office, billiard hall, meat market, 3 doctors, 2 preachers, a lawyer, and a local newspaper.  Kalida school district #16 was organized and a school was built across the road from the town site.  In 1873 Kalida became the county seat winning over Defiance and Waldrip.  On Feb. 23, 1874 another election was held with Defiance winning 643 to Kalida's 491 votes.  The county seat was then moved to Defiance.  The beautiful little town of Kalida was also moved to Yates Center.

          Mr. James Davidson in keeping the spirit of the Kalida town site alive had the impressive "Castle Cave' structure built.  Mr. Davidson had attended the Worlds Fair in 1893.  After seeing many architecture combinations built of stone, he came home and decided to have the stone structure built.  Mr. Davidson hired Mr. Henry Ashley, a fine stone mason, to construct the cave and the fine stone gateways surrounding the town site of Kalida.
The stone structure was built as a farm utility cave.  In the summer, milk was stored and in the winter vegetables and fruits.  Built of native sandstone, the cave itself contains enough stone to build a large residence.  The east and west outside was 14 in. thick and 76 ft. long; front and rear columns are 22 ft. high.  The length of cave from front to back is 30 ft. the end wall of the cave is 4 ft. thick with an 18 inch vacuum: the inside room is arched, with a height of 9½ ft. in the clear, with solid walls 3 ft. thick, the floor is 6 in. thick, it rests level on top of the ground and is made of dressed and rubbed sandstone, the foundation is 2½ ft. deep.  The cave is cemented inside and out.  The center of the outside of the cave is grass.  Beautiful wildflowers adorn the cave structure.  The memory of Kalida lives on, thanks to Mr. Davidson and the John Weide family, who are the present owners.

Source: Woodson County Chamber of Commerce, Yates Center, KS

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May 23, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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