— World's Champion Lays 46,664 Bricks in Under Eight Hours —
- Main Marker: -
Founded in 1857, Olathe was strategically located on the Santa Fe Trail. In the era of horsepower, the new town was a day's journey from Independence, Missouri. As time passed, Olathe's population and commerce grew, and a faster connection with Kansas City was needed. By 1925, automobiles had reduced travel time, but would often get stuck on muddy roads. The paving of Kansas City Road - lying on top of the Westport route of the old Santa Fe Trail - was received with great fanfare.
Much of the excitement centered upon a bricklaying competition between James Garfield "Indian Jim" Brown and Frank Hoffman of El Dorado. On the morning of September 12, 1925, Brown laid 218 tons of brick - 46,664 bricks in seven hours and forty-eight minutes in a drizzling rain and won the contest. He received a $200 prize along with his regular wages of $2 per hour.
Many prominent Olathe Citizens laid ceremonial bricks that day. alongside Senator Charles Curtis and Governor Ben Paulen. In the afternoon, more than 10,000 people enjoyed a parade of sixty floats celebrating the progress of transportation. J. C. Nichols, native son and developer of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, spoke to the crowd about the importance of paved roads for economic development of the region; the trip to Kansas City was now possible in forty minutes.- Photo Captions -
Upper Right - Photo is of James Brown laying bricks."Turned Drudgery to Art"
James Garfield Brown was born in upstate New York in 1880. As a member of the Oneida Indian Nation, he attended the infamous Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a boarding school where Native American children were uprooted from their families and forced to assimilate and abandon their cultural traditions. As an avid football player, Brown's strength proved useful in setting the eight-pound bricks used at the time.Photo Courtesy of Johnson County Museums
Lower Left - Photo is of an approaching steam roller
A steam roller leveling the bricks on Kansas City Road in 1926. The Cook and Stucker Brick Company of Ottawa, Kansas built the new road.Photo Courtesy of Johnson County Museums
Lower Center - Photo is of men working next to piles of bricks
"Tong Men" using metal clamps to stack bricks for "Indian Jim" work on a street in Pampa, Texas. Brown went on to lay brick for roads in Baldwin, Liberal, and Goodland, Kansas as well as Pampa.Photo courtesy of White Deer Land Museum, Pampa, Texas
Lower Right - Photo is of a stagecoach in front of a station
Discover more of Olathe's local history at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. Located on the old Santa Fe Trail, you will find this unique historic site a little more than half a mile to the northeast at 1200 Kansas City Road.
- Stone Adoption Marker - See Photo #2 Indian Jim Monument adopted by Olathe North 21st Century Program Landscape Science 2007