Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm offers a unique hands on experience for visitors of all ages focusing on 1860s farming, frontier life and stagecoach travel while preserving the nationally significant Mahaffie Story. Mahaffie is the last remaining stagecoach stop open to the public on the Santa Fe Trail.
The Heritage Center exhibit, I knew it was a Fine Country, tells the stories of the Mahaffie family, early Olathe and Johnson County, the western trails and stagecoach travel. The exhibit includes a 12 minute film offering more of the site's history. The video "Border War Voices" allows visitors to learn about what settlers went through during the Border War era. The video was co-produced by Wide Awake Films and generously funded through the Kansas Humanities Council. Please park in the Heritage Center parking lot to begin your visit to Mahaffie. GPS users, please enter 1200 Kansas City Road Olathe, KS as your address instead of 1100 Kansas City Road.
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site
The stone farmhouse built by James B. and Lucinda Mahaffie in 1865 is one of the few stagecoach stops left on the Santa Fe Trail, and the only one preserved as a public historic site. Along with the farmhouse, the stone ice house (also built in 1865) and the original timber-frame barn (probably the oldest building on the site and built around 1860) are all listed on the on the National and Kansas Registers of Historic Places. The site is also designated as an official component of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail by the National Park Service.
About twenty acres remain of the original 360 acre farm once owned by James Beatty and Lucinda. The farm is located on the "Westport Route," which actually carried traffic of all the trails leading out of Westport, Missouri: the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails. Arriving in Olathe in 1857 from Indiana, the Mahaffies purchased this farm site in 1858 and used oxen to move a portion of the wood frame home from their downtown lot to their new holdings - at that time, about a mile outside of town. The family lived in that home until the new, stone house was finished in 1865. The family owned another 200 acres in land around the community.
The Barlow and Sanderson Stagecoach Line contracted with the Mahaffie family to provide one of the stops needed for their coaches, running between Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth, and carrying passengers and the U.S. Mail from Independence, Missouri all the way to Santa Fe. By 1865 and until 1869, hungry passengers took their meals in the basement of the stone farmhouse, built to serve as a kitchen and dining hall. In 1867, Lucinda, her daughters, and hired helpers might have served as many as 50 to100 meals a day. While the passengers ate, the incoming teams of horses were switched for fresh animals.
James and Lucinda Mahaffie 1870
The scope of the Mahaffies' inn-keeping business for other travelers (in the first, smaller home and then out of the 1865 stone house) is not entirely clear, and is the subject of ongoing research. James Beatty Mahaffie was first, and foremost, a farmer and is listed in census records as such. The family did not suffer when the railroad arrived in Olathe in 1869 and ended local stagecoach operations. J.B. helped to incorporate, and then served on the board of directors, of one of the early railroad companies.
The Mahaffie home and adjoining property was purchased by the City of Olathe in 1979 to insure its preservation and to operate as a historic site. In 1997, the city purchased the properties to the east and south to further protect the site from encroaching development, and to provide park facilities and a location for a support facility in the future.
Today, the site is administered by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Olathe. The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Foundation supports fundraising efforts for the preservation of the site and public programming.