Salina historian telling story of city through photographs

SALINA, Kansas – Mary Douglass is infatuated with Salina history.

The local historian says she’s practically lived in the archive room in the Salina Public Library admiring the vast history of the city.

“The long answer is 40 years, the short answer is four months.”

Douglass was contacted by Arcadia Publishing to gather photographs and attach short essays for a book called “Salina’s Historic Downtown.”

She scanned nearly 450 photos before settling on just over 200 for the book.

She says the book is a compilation of several historical pictures from 1858 to around 2008.

“There’s the photograph of the prohibition agents busting up all the beer in town, lots of flood pictures. I tried to capture images of buildings that are no longer here.”

Even after sifting through many historical books and archives, Douglass says she does have one picture she felt couldn’t be left out of her book.

“One of my favorite photographs in the whole book is a blacksmith working at his forge.”

Douglass is hoping the book captures how the downtown area once served as the epicenter for the entire city.

“Salina downtown was the soul commercial area in town, except for a few neighborhood grocery stores. So if you wanted to shop, you came downtown, and I wanted to show that part of Salina.”

Douglass is also hopeful the book will serve as an educational tool to Salina residents showing them how the area has evolved over the past 150 years.

Douglass says she will be doing a series of book signings in the Salina area in the coming weeks.

The first will be Saturday at the Smoky Hill Museum Store in downtown.

The event kicks off at 2 p.m. and last until 4 p.m.

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