Old Engine 99, a stained glass window, escapes the salvage yard to shine again in the library
Goodland Public Library’s stained-glass window, often called “The Railroad Window”, survived a trip to the salvage yard to shine in the library’s meeting room.
Engineer C.E. Biddison and Engine 99 pulled the first Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska Railway train into Goodland in 1888. The CK&N was part of the Rock Island System. The town erupted in joy. (Biddison would eventually shoot a train robber outside of Goodland.)
In 1911, 23-year-old brakeman Charles J. Winsell was killed by a falling girder. He was looking backward when his train approached an iron bridge. He struck his head on a girder and was killed instantly. The Methodist Church was under construction that year and railroad workers donated this window in his memory.
The window takes a round trip
Eventually, the Methodists tore down their old church in order to build a new one. The windows, including “Old Engine 99“, were hauled to Wichita for salvage. The contract specified that the salvage yard could take everything away. Mrs. John Cogswell, the Mayor’s wife, lamented their absence. The Cogswells bought the railroad window for $700, hoping to install it one day in a new library. With orders to “Bring back the train!”, Larry Eves of Goodland Glass went to Wichita to salvage the window. After a half-day search, Eves found it in a pile of rubble, including old bottles. He encased it in plywood and took it home, where it sat for four years.
Finally the new library came to fruition. Mrs. Harold Stickle and Mrs. Paul McBride, daughters of Sherman County homesteaders the Joseph F. Kimmels, furnished an estimated $1,250 for restoration in their parents’ honor. Wheat Ridge, Colo., artist J. Martin Eastwood was hired to restore the window. He said that the Goodland window was “the only one like it in the world” and that the “ceramic art paintwork” is “rare.” Unfortunately, the original artist’s name has been lost. Eastwood needed six days to restore it. It still shows the effects of its rough treatment.
Library patrons still cherish the treasure that was saved from the salvage yard.
One of Todd’s earlier works, They Came to Stay, is across the street on the Sherman County Courthouse grounds. Central School Bell and a benchmark are near the Broadway Avenue entrance. The beautiful District Courtroom is on the second floor.
Library is open September-May, Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; June-August, Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 785-899-5461.by