In Rural Sabetha, Kansas, The World Came For Totality

Aug 22, 2017
Originally published on August 21, 2017 1:56 pm

People from all over the world gathered in the small northeast Kansas town of Sabetha during Monday's solar eclipse to experience two-and-a-half minutes of totality.

The parking lot of the Koch Motel just off US 75 was filled with cars from Arizona, Texas and Ohio.

There were families from Japan and Britain.

“I figured there wouldn’t be a ton of people in this little corner of Kansas,” said Dave Heim from Rock Island, Illinois.

Turns out, there were more than he thought. But Sabetha, about an hour north of Topeka and 30 minutes from the Nebraska state line, wasn’t overcrowded and the traffic was very manageable.

Robert Miller from Syracuse, New York, says he would come to Sabetha often early in his career and then noticed it in the path of totality. “I’ve traveled out here on business quite a few times in the past and I figured, the perfect place to go.”

The day was rainy in Sabetha and totality was obscured by clouds when it rolled in at 1:04 p.m.

Rooms at the motel that usually go for $50 a night were going for three times that much.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

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