Entering the Mountain Time Warp
Interstate 70 westbound and Highway 27 southbound bend as they enter Sherman County. Why? Because those roads cross an invisible boundary, an entrance into another time dimension, the Mountain Time Zone. Yes, Kansas does span two time zones. Four counties in Kansas are on Mountain Time, which makes sense. Goodland is the highest Kansas county seat.
This is the western edge of Kansas, highest in elevation, far from Topeka, the state capital. Goodland is 144 miles closer to Colorado’s state capital, Denver. Kansas City is 206 miles further from Goodland than Denver is. The local radio station broadcasts Denver football and baseball games. Maps of National Football League and Major League Baseball fandoms show Goodland’s orientation toward Denver.
Whose time is it, anyway?
Is life in The Zone always easy? No. The boundary can lead to time confusion. When attending events in neighboring Central Time counties, we must clarify whether we’re using “fast time” (Central) or “slow time” (Mountain). When we come home from Colby, we arrive Goodland before we left Colby. But the same trip eastbound requires nearly two hours. Now that is a time warp.
Kansas used to have more Mountain Time counties. As originally envisioned, Central Time was to reach from 80th to 100th meridians with Mountain Time from the 100th to 120th. Time line zig-zagged across the western part of the state at railroad division points. But time zones tend to shift westward over time, a cheap way to get an extra hour of light in the evening.
Keeping Goodland in The Zone
Sherman County has not been immune from efforts to leave The Zone. The most recent came in April 2003. The Goodland Daily News conducted a straw poll, asking Sherman County voters whether they would like to switch to Central Time. Over 70 percent of voters said no. Before that, voters went to the polls about the time zone issue in 1989 (PDF). Sherman County remained in Mountain Time with a vote of 1,059 to 579. Mountain Time is part of Goodland’s uniqueness.