I hope many of you can come by the library this coming Saturday, May 7, to see the exhibit of the twelve 1887 architectural drawings of the Kinsley A.T.S.F. depot. This is a one-afternoon event from 1-5 p.m. because right afterwards, we will be sending the drawings to the Kansas State Historical Society for archival preservation. Architect Ed Carlson will talk on the drawings and depot from 2-3 p.m.
Last week I explained that John Vician had called to offer these drawings to the library. In addition, there will be a surprise attraction to the exhibit. A rare, 8-foot blueprint of the “Profile of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Completed in the Office of the District Engineers in Topeka, Kansas, 1884” will also be displayed. This fragile artifact depicts all the location of all the depots of the Western Division, detailing the elevation and mileage from Atchison.
I have come to know a little about Mr. Vician in telephone conversations these last few weeks. I wish he could be here with us Saturday, but because he can’t, I would like to tell you a little about him and how he came to have these artifacts.
John grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, graduating from Schurz High School in 1955. He was an all-around athlete, and he said that he “always keeping Wrigley Field in mind.” After attending some junior college classes and doing a stint in the army, he went to work for the A.T.S.F. Railway Co. in 1966.
“I had made an appointment with the office engineer to seek employment in the chief engineer office,” he said. “Right after the interview, he asked me when could I start?”
One of his first jobs was to help clean out a warehouse full of old railroad documents. Gurneys were filled up with papers, drawings, and documents to be thrown out. Mr. Vician had an interest in the architectural drawings he found in them as he had taken drafting in high school. He had also served in the army at Fort Sam Houston as a MOS 810 Draftsman making graphic teaching aids for the army doctors and nurses. Mr. Vician chose to save these old drawing rather than throw them away. He took them home and has had them with him for the past fifty-four years.
Mr. Vician ended up working for the A.T.S.F. for thirty years in the Engineering Department. He was in the Railway Exchange Building in Chicago from 1966 to 1983. Then he worked in the Crane Building at the Corwith freight yard until 1988. When the A.T.S.F. consolidated and reorganized, he was transferred to Topeka. His work there was with the maps, showing the lines, deleting lines, and indicating the locations of railroad crossings, signals, etc. He was transferred to Kansas City in 1992 and remained there until his retirement in 1996.
“The Santa Fe was like a family,” he said. “They were good to work for.”
After we received the twelve architectural drawings, Mr. Vician also sent some more things he had found Including the large 8-foot blueprint that will be on display this Saturday.
All of these artifacts will be given to the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. We had agreed that $500 would be a fair price for them. Mr. Vician told me last Friday that he would like the community of Kinsley to donate that amount to the “Make-a-Wish Foundation. He wants it to be Kinsley’s gift to the charity, not his.
These artifacts are such a treasure for Kinsley and Kansas history. We are so appreciative that Mr. Vician thought about offering them to us. Their new home at the Kansas State Historical Society will insure their preservation into the future.
We will still “keep” them here in the four framed prints which go on permanent display in the library this week. They will also be accessible on the library website along with a companion exhibit depicting some of the depot’s history.