Pieces of military history have new location and look in Wellington

Wellington is home to two pieces of American military history – the two cannons that have sat in front of city hall for the past several years. Many have been asking what's happened to them lately. The answer is, they've been getting ready to move to a new home downtown.

The bronze cannons will soon be featured in Heritage Park, right next to Memorial Auditorium, 208 N. Washington. In reality they've traveled a much further distance than those couple of blocks from 317 S. Washington to get there.

"Every once in a while, we have to do some work to them to keep them in good shape," said Director of Public Works, Jeremy Jones. "Most of the time, that's getting the wheels refurbished, because they are wood." The cannons took a trip two hours and 45 minutes northeast of Wellington to Welda, Kan., which is just over 50 miles West of Ft. Scott.
There, the folks at Mont Ida Buggy Shop went to work on the cannons.

"While we had the wheels up there, we decided we probably get some work done on the wood frames also," Jones said. The decision was made to not paint the wood, just to treat it, and keep it sealed. Jones also said the bronze part of the cannons won't be touched up.

"We had several recommendations to not do anything to the body of those cannons, that making them a shiny, bronze color is not good for them," Jones explained. "They're better off left alone, other than keeping them clean."

The cannons were in service during the thick of the Civil War. Each was made in Massachusetts – one in 1847 by N.P. Ames and Co. in Cichopee, the other in 1857 by Cyrus Alger and Co. in Boston.

"We've got a number of documents that when you piece it all together, it kind of gives us the history of these," Jones said. "To the best of our knowledge they were both in service at that time." The City of Wellington has no record of the cannons actually being used in battle.

How Wellington came to possess these military artifacts is through a loan program set up by the U.S. government. The City doesn't actually own the cannons.

"They're still property of the U.S. government, they loan them out to municipalities and different agencies to be displayed," Jones added. The different recipients must meet and maintain certain criteria. "We have to make sure they're kept in good condition, that they cannot be used, and a condition that they cannot be fired. And they have to be on display in front of a government office, park, or cemetery."

In Heritage Park, the cannons will take the place of the water fountain, which hasn't worked for a number of years, that has already been taken out by the City over the course of last week. Their goal is to have the cannons in the park before the Kansas Wheat Festival (July 10-14).

"The dismantling of that fountain took a few more days than we had thought," Jones said. "...I think we'll still be good to meet that time schedule." The cannons will be right at home next to Memorial Auditorium, the focal point of historic, downtown Wellington that honors veterans of war.

"We're hoping that moving them up to Heritage Park in that location, they're going to get a bit more visibility," Jones said. "They look awesome right now."