The historic Franklin Sidewalk built in 1936, connects two communities in Crawford County, Franklin and Arma. After school consolidation, the communities wanted to provide safe pedestrian travel between the two towns. Its history reflects the trends due to changes in jobs, education, and transportation. It is believed to be the longest sidewalk connecting two towns in the United States at the time.
The sidewalk spans 9,361.5 feet long (1.7 miles), parallel along the east side of "Jefferson Highway" and the "Frontier Military Scenic Byway" now known as Business U.S. 69, with Arma to the north and Franklin to the south.
Included in the project were improvements to ditches and drainage, bridges, and extended culverts, grubbing hedges, grading, surfacing, seeding, and signage. The plans specified a 3-foot wide sidewalk that was 4 to 5 inches thick.
It was during the late 1920s, and early 1930s that two small Kansas towns were hit hard by the decline in mining. It was also during this time that the consolidation of the Franklin and Arma High schools took place in August of 1929 increasing the foot traffic in and out of Arma.
The Arma Record throughout its publication reported several accidents and deaths as many people would be walking along the edge of the now busy thoroughfare. Once such tragic accident was in March 1928, when a younger child by the name of Enid Gardner (age 6) was struck by a motor car on her way home from school.
By May 14th of 1936, the Arma Record reported that: “This road has always been dangerous because of the many pedestrians who are forced to walk on the pavement when coming to Arma.” The paper then verified that work would began soon.
Start Sidewalk Soon.(August 19th 1936) – Pittsburg Headlight-Sun
Construction of a sidewalk along federal highway No. 89 between Arma and Franklin will begin the latter part of this week, according to F.H. Freeto, contractor. The walk will be approximately two miles in length, extending from the south limits of Arma to Franklin. The walk will be on the east side of the highway.
Sidewalk Work Under Way.(August 21st 1936) – Pittsburg Headlight-Sun
Full time labor will begin next week, Franklin to Arma. Although full time work will not begin until next week, preliminary work on the sidewalk to be built along the east side of federal highway No 69 between Franklin and Arma started yesterday. The 3-foot walk will extend from the Franklin corner to the south city limits of Arma.
Plans have been developed to extend the walk inside the city limits of Arma, according to F.N. Freeto, who holds the contract for the other project, but contracts on that job have not been approved. They will not be approved until right of way difficulties in Arma are settled.
On September 28th 2004
Phyllis Bitner submitted a Preliminary Site Information Questionnaire to provide information to assist in evaluating the property eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places and/or Register of Historic Kansas Places.
On November 18th 2006
The Franklin – Arma Sidewalk was added to the Kansas Register of Historic Places.
On March 16th 2007,
The Franklin – Arma Sidewalk was added to the National Register of Historic Places