The first settlers arrived in the area in the early 1870's before the buffalo were killed, and the Indians had to leave. By the time (around 1887) the Salina, Lincoln Western Railway decided to run a line through the area, several people had either homesteaded the land, or purchased some land given to the Kansas Pacific for the building of the rail line about 16 miles to the south. The Union Pacific acquired both of these rail lines. The rail line that went through Waldo was abandoned around 1993 which left the town without any rail transportation.
The Union Town Company acquired 2 80 acre pieces of land for the town site. It was declared the Town of Waldo on October 1, 1888. By around 1915, Waldo had a population of around 300 people.
Around that time there was electric lights, public school. They also had several businesses, including, Waldo State Bank organized in 1902, Waldo Hardware and Implement Co. began business in 1907 and was incorporated in 1910, the Waldo Lumber Co. a large general grocery and dry goods store, a well stocked drug store owned by Dr. J. C. Mitchell, physician and surgeon. There was also C. M. Horner, Jeweler, and Engraver, general insurance business. For horses, and cars there was a garage, machine and blacksmith shop. Since this is farming country, there were three elevators with a combined capacity of 28,000 bushels. There was a dray service, ice cream and confectionery store, four cream and produce houses and a shoe repair and harness chop.
The Waldo Advocate kept people up on the news, and if you wanted to communicate outside the world of Waldo, you could use either the telephone exchange, or send messages by telegraph from the Union Pacific depot.
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City of Waldo, Kansas