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Wheelspin Mike Berry’s Wheelspin: Car enthusiasts plan 100-year anniversary

  • Published Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at 12 a.m.

Officially only two weeks into winter, it would be nice to have a warm-weather road trip to look forward to. Why not join the folks who are going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the organizational caravan to form the Kansas White Way highway in northeast Kansas?

Back on May 15, 1914, more than 500 folks set out to drum up support for interconnecting Kansas roadways to serve as a part of the Great White Way linking Chicago to Colorado Springs.

“We take highways for granted now,’ said Tom Parker, one of the organizers of the centennial event planned for May 10. “Back then, when cars first came out, if it rained or snowed, (traveling by car) was kind of an iffy thing.”

In fact, one of two groups that set out to promote the highway got lost in the dark and had to spend the night sleeping in their cars because the rutted rural roads were unmarked.

“They banned headlights in the towns because people didn’t like lights shining in their eyes,” said Parker’s wife, Lori.

They are looking for car clubs, individual car hobbyists, vintage motorcyclists and camping trailer aficionados to take part in the event.

“Anybody who wants to be a part of history is welcome,” said Tom Parker.

As in the original trek, one group will leave Concordia at 8 a.m. and another will depart from Atchison at the same time, traveling through small towns along what is now K-9. Participants are encouraged to stop in those towns along the way, where they will be greeted by local folks.

There are a couple of classic car museums on the 85-mile-long route, which should make for interesting stops. The plan is for everyone to meet up at the city park in Frankfort about 2 p.m. for a final ceremony. The overall mission is to try to get the Kansas White Way officially designated as a state scenic byway.

For registration information, contact: Tom and Lori Parker, 811 Gypsum St., Blue Rapids, Kan., 66411 or email them at kswhiteway@gmail.com.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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