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Katy Days in Parsons rich in history and tragedy - KOAM TV 7

Katy Days in Parsons rich in history and tragedy

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Katy Days in Parsons, Kansas celebrates the history of the Katy Railroad, which goes back to the 1800's and is rich with pride and tragedy.

It's been celebrated for 12 years but this year is the 100th anniversary of a tragic event from Parsons train company's history.

"Parsons, Kansas was established where it is now because of the Katy Railroad," says museum board member Dave Mattox.  "If there wasn't a Katy Railroad, there would be no Parsons, Kansas."

"Everything went through the depot," Mattox says.  "If you wanted to go someplace you traveled from the depot.  If you brought freight in, it came into the depot."

But that changed at 4 p.m. on March 18, 1912 when a fire started on the second floor.

"There was huge crowds of people watching and several photographers," Mattox says.  "The fire started in the middle of the afternoon so several photographers set up and just took pictures all night long, which is what we have record of here.  There's pictures of when the fire broke out to the next morning, when all that's left are the few bricks."

Visitors will be able to get a closer look at those photographs on this, the centennial anniversary of the fire.

"It's extremely important for everybody in the community to at least be a little knowledgeable of your history and where we came from," says Dee Dee Swanson, the organizer of Katy Days.  "If you don't, you don't appreciate it.  You don't appreciate why you're here."

Swanson says it's the history of the town and rail line that has her excited for the event.

"It is a community based festival," Swanson says.  "It is not a money maker.  It is put on for the community, by the community.  To be a part of that, I'm extremely proud."

Mattox agrees that the history is important and is the reason he and Mike Brotherton continue to hold the History Zone during Katy Days.

Katy Days activities are planned for Memorial Day weekend starting Friday evening.  For more information visit http://www.katydays.com/

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