This ghost town was officially "Phil Sheridan", named for the Civil War general who reportedly dined at the site (and lent his name to the county to our east). It sprang into existence July 25, 1868 when it became the end of the Kansas Pacific Railroad line, and lasted much longer than the average such boomtown owing to the KPRR running out of funds for building further west. Thus it was a place of action for over two years, until funds and a plan to continue on to Denver made it just a historical footnote..
Located near the two buttes by McAllaster on US40 in Wallace County, Sheridan was home to every sort of seedy character and misdeed imaginable during its hectic lifespan. Its two streets, either side of the tracks, were home to over 2000 living in tents, and 40 sod shanties in the early days. With the passage of months, more permanent buildings housed railroad offices, hotels, bars and brothels. The Santa Fe stage and Butterfield Overland Dispatch provided transport and communication to the west, until the railroad was finally extended.
A number of newspaper accounts make the town sound unbelievably grizzly, and factual numbers lend at least a bit of credence to the stories of depravity -- 30 men hung and more than 100 shot dead or killed by Indians during its two years of existence.
In his book Ghost Towns of Kansas Vol. III p.79-90, Daniel Fitzgerald recalls in some well-documented detail the wild character and characters of Sheridan. The author sells his books at 2912 Eveningside Drive, Topeka KS 66614.
The most famous area story about the town is of the poker game where a man won more than $50,000 in gold. Upon winning this sum (REAL MONEY in those days.. and NOW, since it's gold) he rode out of town at a gallop, stashed the loot somewhere, and reappeared in Sheridan 45 minutes later. His former card buddies decided he'd cheated them and exacted the revenge of hanging. Thus, presumably, somewhere within 22 minutes' ride of Sheridan there exists a handsome stash of gold.........
Leslie Linville's 1979 book Visiting Historic Sites on the Central Hi-Plains is a great resource for Smoky Hill valley lore of 1850 and beyond.
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