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McAdams Park

19 Oct

I’ve been hunting McAdams park for a little over a month now and I have found silver there almost every time I’ve gone. I wanted to know more about this park and I wanted to know why it hasn’t been hunted dry. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

McAdams park was opened in 1901 and was originally named McKinley park in honor of President McKinley.  In 1920, the African-American community that surrounded the park, petitioned the city council to designate the park as an official Colored park and they asked to manage it. I can’t find verification of this but I believe this was the first park and perhaps the only park designated as such in Wichita.

Improvements were made to the park throughout the 30’s and at one time, it held the only monument in the city to African-American soldiers. In particular, the monument was to honor the black soldiers returning from the Korean War. Eventually the neighborhood adjacent to the park fell into urban decay and when all the houses were demolished, the land was incorporated into the park. There is still a neighborhood surrounding the park but not adjacent to it.

In 1966, the park was renamed after its director of 27 years, Emerson McAdams.

The park is still a large (more than ten acres) and beautiful park with mature trees and contours and pathways. The pavilion that was built in the 30’s still stands but sits unused. There is a recreational center where I see many senior citizens and city employees although I haven’t had a chance to go in to see  its interior. In the 30’s, a swimming pool was constructed which saw upwards of 15,000 people per Summer in its heyday and it still operates today. Modern additions to the park are a huge baseball diamond with big fancy stands and a very nice football field named after the great Barry Sanders –a native of Wichita. An elementary school sits on the West side and the original baseball diamond from the 40’s still sees plenty of action on the North side of the park.

All in all, this park is sort of a secret garden for me. It appears that the park never became popular with metal detectorists due to its reputation. When I first began hunting, I assumed the park would be as trashy and empty of silver coins as the rest of the city parks. When I asked other hunters about it I got many negative stories about hunting at McAdams. I decided to give the park a try one weekend early in the morning and I was shocked to find it relatively clean. Even cooler was the fact that I have more than doubled my silver count since I began hunting it.

It is my park.

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4 Responses to “McAdams Park”

  1. Gibby April 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Hi that is so interesting! I am doing a project for a final project in my Archaeology of Ethnicity class and this is immensely helpful. I’m not looking for silver, but rather to learn more about the history of the park and surrounding area. Where did you learn the above mentioned history of the park? Any reply/ feedback would be GREATLY appreciated.

    • pulltabMiner April 19, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Gibby, I am stoked that someone may study this park and its role in the early history of the African-American community in Wichita.

      My main source for information about the park were the Tihen notes in the Wichita State University website. I’ve wondered often if the African-American museum would have more information about the park, particularly pictures.

      In my post, I was wrong about the swimming pool. The original swimming pool built in the 30’s was torn down and the one there was built later.
      Also, right across the Elementary school, to the North, there are the remnants of a sidewalk with a stamp of 1910 or 1901. It’s hard to tell now. I believe a house stood in that corner at that time, before that area was incorporated into the park. I suspect the original farmhouse, if there was one before 1901, sat at the corner of 13th and Wabash. Anyway, there were houses built around the park in the 40’s and 50’s and there were two churches built in land that now is part of the park. I don’t remember how I know about the churches but i would like to know more about them.

      As a side note, I find bullets at this park EVERYTIME I metal detect there, which lends some credence to the story that at one time, the park was a dangerous place. I don’t believe the park began that way nor is it that way today (during the day anyway, when i am there).

      I would LOVE to know when the African-American community developed near or around the park. I infer from the Tihen notes that whites used the park during the day and blacks used it during the night in the first 20 years of the park’s history.

      Also, a Mexican-American man i work with, tells me that the Hispanic community used the baseball diamond at the NorthEast corner of the park in the 40’s.

      Last, I occasionally find shotgun shells from the mid to late 1800’s in the park which leads me to believe, people hunted there before the land became a park. Shot shells, as we call them in the metal detecting hobby, can be dated by the stamp at the bottom of the metal head of the shotgun shell.

      Good luck with your research and please, I would really like to read your paper when it is done.

      David (aka pulltabMiner)

      • Gibby April 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

        I cannot thank you enough for getting back to me, especially with such useful information. The history of the park is really so interesting, but it has proved extremely challenging to find any information about the site. I will be sure to check out the Tihen notes. I am currently a student at Wichita State, so I will try to find out as much as I can about the articles.

        Are there any articles in particular you may be able to suggest? I understand that the park used to be named McKinley park so do you have any opinion on under which name a search would provide the most relevant data? Right now I am using a computer at the Wichita State Library, but on my laptop I saved a very interesting article that had a little information regarding the park. I will send you a link if you are interested.

        As I proceed further into this research I will give credit to you and your help. Thanks a bunch!

      • pulltabMiner April 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

        No problem Gibby.

        For your topic, I think you should start with the article about how the African American community petition the city council to make the park a colored park. The Tihen notes are summaries but it’s a good start. I would try to find the original article in the archives of the Eagle/Beacon.

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