Community Builders: A man with a weather eye

“The Way We Worked” Kansas tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program.

The travelling exhibit The Way We Worked by the Smithsonian is about showcasing how Americans have worked through the years.  The exhibit shows what changes have occurred in the workforce in America from the mid-19th century and the late 20th century.  Just like America, Goodland’s workforce and community have changed as well.  The county was founded in 1886 and prospered because of individuals who believed in the town.  One individual was Frank J. Horton who helped establish the National Weather Bureau in Goodland and make it a first order station.

Frank J. Horton was instrumental in getting the Government Weather Bureau in town.  Horton and his family were settlers of Goodland who were interested in the weather and recording it.  Prior to Horton, other individuals of Goodland recorded the temperature and precipitation but it was Horton’s influence that brought the National Weather Service to town.

Horton was an attorney who ran the weather service from his house.  In October of 1919 S.D. Flora, the Kansas Federal Meteorologist, came from Topeka to Goodland to install the necessary equipment and instruct Horton and his family of the duties of

High Plains Museum |
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Man typing at National Weather Service Office in 1958.

reporting the weather and the importance in keeping accurate records.  Originally only two observations were recorded each day; one at 6:00 A.M. and the other at 6:00 P.M. and were wired to the Chicago Weather Bureau by telegraph.  In 1921 the Goodland Weather Bureau became recognized as a second order station and four reports were made daily.

By making several trips to the Chicago Weather Bureau and through much effort, Horton established the Weather Bureau in Goodland as a first order station.  A first order station means that measurements and monitoring are done hourly.  The Weather Station was originally set up at the Goodland Airport in December of 1943 and served the weather bureau until 1944.  Today the Weather Bureau has its own building located on Armory Road.  A plaque hangs on the wall at the entrance to the Weather Bureau honoring Frank Horton for his constant service of the development of the Weather Bureau in Goodland.  S.D. Flora said of the Goodland Weather Station that it “is one of our most important stations.  Mr. Horton’s weather observations have done more to advertise Goodland, Kansas, than anything else.”

Look for more articles in this series of Community Builders and tell us about an individual you knew that helped build our community on our Facebook page.

Tell us your own work story and mark December 15th on your calendar to see how Americans have worked over the decades at “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian exhibit.  “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program.  Support for “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour has been provided by the Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation, the Western Kansas Community Foundation, and Jostens.  Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.  To find out more information visit the High Plains Museum and find us online (highplainsmuseum.org).

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