Kansas 105

1951-1960 Timeline


McConnell Air Force Base is activated to train crewmen assigned to fly the B-47 Stratojet.

July 13 — Large sections of Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan and Salina are under water. More than 100,000 Kansans are evacuated.

Late May — Father Emil Kapaun, a priest and U.S. Army chaplain from Pilsen, dies in a North Korean prison camp. He is credited with saving hundreds of soldiers' lives and rallying others to survive torture and starvation in the Korean prison camps.


March 26 — University of Kansas defeats St. John's to win the men's national basketball title in Seattle.

April 26 — CBS Radio series "Gunsmoke" begins airing. The plot revolves around Dodge City and its days as a cowtown.

June 5 — Dwight D. Eisenhower returns to Abilene to launch his presidential campaign with a live television speech.

July 1 — Kansas' oldest surviving TV station, KTVH — now KWCH — signs on in Hutchinson.


May 17 — The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the Brown family in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, saying separate but equal is inherently unequal and that children cannot be separated in public schools based on race. It is a landmark ruling in the civil rights movement.

Oct. 19 — KAKE-TV begins broadcasting.


May 25 — A tornado three-quarters of a mile wide blindsides the sleeping town of Udall, killing 77 people, injuring 250 and destroying virtually every building in the Cowley County town.

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is established to provide habitat for migratory birds along the Central Flyway of North America.

Movie stars William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Kim Novak and Cliff Robertson arrive in Halstead to begin filming the first major motion picture made in Kansas. Scenes for "Picnic" are filmed throughout Halstead, including at the town's swinging bridge, and in Hutchinson and Nickerson. Local residents work as extras.


F.C. "Phog" Allen concludes a 39-year basketball coaching career at the University of Kansas. His career record at KU was 590-219. His 1952 team won the national title.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, creating the Interstate Highway System.


National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (forerunner of the March of Dimes) vaccinates everyone under the age of 40 in the Comanche County town of Protection, launching a nationwide campaign encouraging Americans to be protected against polio.


"The Tuesday Night Fights" refer to Wichita's City Commission meetings; the highlight coming on April 1, when City Commissioner A.E. Howse is knocked off his chair by Commissioner John Stevens.

Frank and Dan Carney open a new restaurant, calling it "Pizza Hut" because the letters fit perfectly on the sign used by the building's former occupant, the B&B Lounge.

July 19 — Ten members of the youth chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stage a sit-in at the lunch counter at Dockum Drug Store in downtown Wichita, the first youth-led lunch counter sit-in in the nation. Three weeks later, the chain agreed to desegregate its lunch counters.


May 28 — Able, a monkey born at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence is successfully launched into outer space on board the Jupiter AM-18.

Nov. 15 — Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children Nancy, 16, and Kenyon, 15, are murdered in their rural Holcomb home.

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