State Tuberculosis Sanatorium

State Tuberculosis Sanatorium

Pictures of the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Norton Kansas

Taken from the Seventy Years in Norton County Kansas 1872-1942 
by D. N. Bowers 
Transcribed by Joann Wolf 


The Kansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium is situated in a beautiful spot on the Prairie Dog Creek four miles east of Norton. The location is ideal for an institution of this character. The air is invigorating, there is an abundance of pure water with a near perfect drainage system. The climate is good, with an abundance of sunshine throughout the year.

The State of Kansas owns an L-shaped tract of land on the northwest corner of the intersection of US 36 and 383 with K-67. This tract comprises 240 acres of good bottom land on which the Sanatorium buildings are situated. The grounds situated in the bend of the creek are appropriately landscaped, with the buildings arranged around the Administration Building, which stands near the center. Pleasing drives and walks leading to the different parts of the grounds with evergreens and flowers at intervals make it very beautiful. The trees skirting the creek to the north make a fitting background for the landscape. The buildings and grounds are brilliantly lighted by night and can be seen for miles. 

To the north of the creek are the barns and dairy herd which supply the institution with milk. Chickens are kept to supply the patients with fresh eggs throughout the year. The farm produces feed which is fed from several large silos built for the purpose and belonging to the institution.

The history of the sanatorium dates back to the year 1913. The corner stone was laid and the dedicatory service held on June 14, 1914. The corner stone bears the inscription: "In the health of the people lies the strength of the nation."

As an inducement to have the institution located in Norton county, the citizens of Norton subscribed $7,200 to purchase the site. As the institution continued to grow, more land was needed. In the year 1934 the State of Kansas purchased a square tract of land consisting of 160 acres, less the railroad right-of-ways, just north of US 36 and 383 on the northeast corner of the intersection with K-67. This with an additional tract of 3.94 acres east of the buildings, make a total of approximately 400 acres owned by the State of Kansas.

Taken from the Norton County News 1870-1916 Historical Number.  
Transcribed by Joann Wolf


The State Tuberculosis Sanitarium was located in 1913.  Norton people subscribed $7,200 and purchased the site.  Several towns tried hard to secure the institution, but Norton won because of the ideal location, climate, and abundance of exceptionally pure drinking water.  The altitude is 2260 feet and there are on an average 300 sunshiny days in the year.  The drainage is perfect.  The Burlington railroad has built a spur track leading to it and it is now a station stop on this road.

The corner stone was laid and the dedication services held under the auspices of the Masonic Lodge on June 14, 1914.  Governor Hodges and the State architect, C. H. Chandler, who is also Grand Master, were at the dedication.  The corner stone bears this inscription:  “In the health of the people lies the strength of the nation.”

Ten percent of all the people from two to sixteen years of age have tuberculosis and not ten per cent of all the people over this age have escaped it. This doesn’t mean that this large percent are in any danger for if the powers of resistance are strong enough the disease is thrown off, but when the power of resistance become lowered and weakened, then the disease affects the person and he should be treated. 

The first patient’s ward built would only accommodate 16 persons while over 150 applications for admittance were in before the building was completed.  However, the last legislature made an appropriation sufficient to build two buildings, a hospital, and  a [pavilion, and with this insufficient equipment the institution has been doing good work in the proper care of the hopeless and in the treatment of these who have not reached the incurable stage.  Weight is the most important indication of headway that the patient is making and so each patient is weighed morning and night and the weight is noted on a chart which is kept for each one.  A farmer from Coffee County was admitted in March 1915 and by December the same year he had gained 46 lbs.  A patient from Hiawatha County was taken in January 1916 and in July left, entirely cured.  Sixty-four cases have been treated and only four have died, and every incipient case has been arrested.

On account of the insufficient buildings and no appropriation to build more, 82 per cent of the people that have tuberculosis are left to fight it out alone and to infect others.  If every man and woman in the State of Kansas could see the letters received by the superintendent, asking for admittance, we would be more careful of men we elect to make our laws and distribute our money.

When our cattle become infected the state steps in and takes means to stop the disease.  Although the death rate in Kansas is lower than in any other state in the Union, 1,000 people died every year from tuberculosis, and to think that 2-3 of these could be saved;  666 lives needlessly lost every year because our Sanatorium is not equipped with enough wards for the patients, and because more had been expended on hospital and other less vital things than on wards in which suffering humanity affected with tuberculosis could be treated, and, as the state board of control has the placing of this money and naming of the use to which it shall be put, on them must lay the blame. 

This is a State Institution, and it should be ready to care for anyone in the state needing its care.

Last year the institution made $3,400 from the farm, this did not include the milk from the cows that was used, for milk in an essential part of the diet. 

It has its own water and lighting systems, and the site besides being ideal from the viewpoint of health and convenience, is also one of the prettiest in the beautiful Prairie Dog Valley.

Doctor Kenny has made a great study of tuberculosis and is wrapped up in the institution.  He is a hard worker and it is not an uncommon thing to see him dressed in an old pair of overalls making hay or cutting down bushes when and extra hand is needed and hands are scarce at the Sanitarium. 

The institution is already putting on the appearance of a little city and we are sure it will grow continually

©2005 by Sharleen Wurm
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Last updated Sunday, September 10, 2006