In the early 1960s, the town of Norton, Kansas was looking for a way to boost local tourism. Local businessman and president of the First State Bank, William Walter Rouse, came up with an idea to recreate a stage coach station along the route of the 1859 Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express Route that ran through town, know as Stage Coach Station 15.
After building the replica station, the town dedicated it to Horace Greeley, the owner and publisher of the New York Tribune and losing presidential candidate of the Liberal Republicans in 1872. Greeley happened to have stayed in Norton in May 1859 and was considered to be the most famous person to have passed through. To further honor Greeley’s visit, Rouse commissioned a mural of him approaching Station 15 to hang in the lobby of the bank.
Shortly thereafter, Rouse received a book as a gift: They Also Ran by Irving Stone, which detailed the lives of the men who had run for and lost the presidency. Fascinated by this, Rouse began collecting photographs. As the bank expanded and moved to a new location, so did Rouse’s collection which he displayed for customers to view. The collection features photos and biographies of the also-rans of American presidential history.
Since Rouse’s death in 1981, family members and former bank employees have taken it upon themselves to keep this unique gallery of American history going. For those unable to visit in person, an online gallery is available.
Know Before You Go
Open Monday through Friday 9AM to 3PM and on Saturdays by appointment only. The Station 15 Replica is located at the Water Tower Park on Hwy. 36 and Jones Ave.