In Rural Sabetha, Kansas, The World Came For Totality

Aug 21, 2017

People from all over the world came to see totality in Sabetha, Kansas at 1:04 p.m. Monday
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

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.

Beverly and Robert Miller came from Syracuse, New York, to watch the eclipse in Sabetha, Kansas, Monday.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

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.