This commentary originally aired on June 30, 2015.
Those shopping and eating at Bradley Fair in northeast Wichita probably don’t realize that they are visiting what could have been the community of Manchester.
The story begins with the construction of the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad in the area in 1880. By 1882, maps showed a “Manchester Station” located in Minneha Township, where it intersected with what is today Rock Road. It is likely that this was named after George O. Manchester, General Manager of the Santa Fe, which had partnered with the “Frisco” at the time to develop a line along the 35th parallel.
By 1885, the city’s real estate boom was underway and there was talk about developing the land around the station. An article from the Wichita Eagle from May 29, 1885, noted that on visit to the nearby farm of C.B. “Con” Ludlum:
People in that vicinity are anxious to have some one open a general store at that station and buy produce, also keep coal, etc., for sale. "Con" says he would like to have a college located there, for they would furnish a half dozen pupils and his neighbor can do equally well. A post office is one of their pressings needs and should some enterprising dealer locate there they would favor him to assist in getting daily mails, etc. They expect to build a church there soon.
In 1887, a charter was filed for a town to be called “Manchester.” Such hopes did not materialize and the bust of the 1890s erased any prospect of developing Manchester or Manchester Station into a community.
When a new plat book came out in 1905, Manchester Station was not even listed. Meanwhile, another “Manchester,” this time in Dickinson County, was founded in 1887, and now a search for Manchester, Kan. will totally miss the once promising venture on Wichita’s northeastern edge.