The debut of the ferris wheel in 1893
Sam Moore’s column (Farm Collector, June 2020) on the 1893 Columbian Exposition was very interesting. I would add the fact that the original Ferris wheel debuted there. I won this photo post card (above) at a family reunion in the 1990s.
Rick Borland, Carrollton, Ohio
Exposition’s legacy lives on in Kansas
I read Sam Moore’s column on the Columbian Exposition (Farm Collector, June 2020) with considerable interest. There is a close connection to the exposition here in Wamego, Kansas.
J.C. Rogers, a Wamego banker, visited the exposition and was thoroughly impressed. He vowed to create something of significance to cause the exposition to be remembered in Wamego. He returned to Chicago as the exposition closed and purchased artifacts to be brought to Wamego. Among the artifacts were a huge spread-winged eagle, about 20 12- by 12-foot classical paintings and two tall pillars.
Rogers had built a nice theater called the Columbian. Today, the huge eagle is at the peak of the restored theater’s roof. Six of the murals hang in the theater’s seating area, and the huge pillars add to the beauty of the facility. Another of the huge paintings hangs on the wall of the Kaw Valley Bank in Wamego, and the rest are housed in an air-conditioned vault.
The theater closed in the 1920s. About 25 years ago, a community group raised almost $2 million to restore the building. Now it has a beautiful performing arts theater and a gallery. The foundation that operates the building also operates the nearby Oz Museum, which is home to a large collection of materials from the Wizard of Oz. Patrons can visit the building and gallery, or attend a theater presentation given by a local community theater group. The theater also presents the Wizard of Oz on stage annually during the Oz Fest.
Ronald J. Williams, Manhattan, Kansas