City of Zenda, Kansas
Founded: 1887 Population: • 123 (2000) • 96 (1990) • 146 (1980) • 184 (1928) Elevation: 1663 Latitude: 37° 26' 32" N Longitude: 98° 16' 54" W School District: USD 332 ZIP code: 67159 Area Code: 620 Zenda is located in southern Kingman County [KM] on highway K-42. The town is mostly contained between the highway on the south and the AT&SF railway, marked with grain elevators, on the north side. The Zenda Community Center houses the small but award-winning library, a meeting room for 4-H and other groups, and the Friendship Meals program for senior citizens. The city park, offering tennis and basketball courts, is well maintained. The simplest and shortest route to Zenda from Wichita is to take K-42, Southwest Boulevard, through Suppesville and Norwich. Another way is to go west from Kingman on Highway 54 for 9 miles and take SW90th 14 miles south through Calista to Zenda; this trip takes about an hour and a quarter. The paved road south out of Zenda winds its way down into a surprisingly hilly part of Harper County, connecting with US 160 at Attica.
History Rochester, Kansas, named for Rochester, Minnesota, was first settled in the mid-1880s. When the A.T.&S.F. railway was built, the town moved to the present site of Zenda in 1887 and renamed New Rochester. The name created much confusion since there were 28 other places named Rochester in the country. The wife of a Santa Fe conductor read the novel THE PRISONER OF ZENDA and thought the name was pretty. The Post Office officially changed names on October 7, 1892. There are currently three other towns named Zenda. Zenda has had three newspapers over the years: • Zenda Citizen 1909 -1917 • Zenda Headlight 1923-1939 • Zenda Zephyr 1939-1941
Places to visit in Zenda One of the most interesting and unique presentations of the history of any Kansas town is in the Municipal Building on Main Street. Thirty six model buildings show Zenda's Main Street as it was around the turn of the century. Each building is "dollhouse" size with the largest about a yard high. The models are painstakingly crafted and are displayed with pictures of the originals. Be sure to look through the windows of the school. By standing at one end of the room between the rows of tables you can look down Main Street and be transported back in time. All that's missing is the smell of horses. This display is open only by arrangement; to schedule a visit, contact Bonnie Bailey, the model builder. She can be reached after business hours at (620) 243-5681. Ms. Bailey, an expert on local history, is also on the board of the local museum and can arrange for it to be opened as well. The Zenda Jail on the east side of Main Street, across from The Lumber Yard, is a tiny concrete box. The floor still has iron rings to shackle prisoners into place.
Dining in Zenda The Lumber Yard Steakhouse & Supper Club (620) 243-6000 311 N. Main / P. O. Box 58, Zenda, KS 67159 The Geo. W. Ultch Lumber Co was built in 1902. Beulah and Woodrow Graber and family opened a restaurant in the building in 1993. It is currently owned by Molitor Angus / Lumber Yard LLC. The old shelves now hold antiques and interesting objects, the racks built for bolts and plumbing items now hold wine bottles, and the old Mosler safe sits in its accustomed place. Reservations are suggested.
Shopping Blasi Service Station (620) 243-5571 212 N. Main / Zenda, KS 67159
St. John's Catholic Church Founded 1909
United Methodist Church Founded 1907
Library Zenda Library (620)243-5791 North end of Zenda Community Bldg, Main Street, Zenda, KS 67159
Museums Zenda Community Museum (620)243-5531 Main Street / Zenda, KS 67159 Open by appointment
Notes: • Genealogical Information for Kingman County is available on Blue Skyways. • Zenda was mentioned in Kansas, A Cyclopedia Of State History by Frank W. Blackmar (1912). • Zenda is on the old A.T. & S.F. branch line that ran down to Englewood.
References Zenda, Kansas Centennial 1887-1987 Privately published 1987; copy available in Zenda Library
For more information about Zenda Zenda Telephone Co. (620) 243-5531 208 N. Main Street, Zenda, KS 67159