8 Wonders of Kansas people

An 8 Wonder of Kansas People

Walter Chrysler, Ellis, Wamego

Address: 102 W. 10th Ellis, KS 67637
Phone: 785.726.3636
Website: www.chryslerboyhoodhome.com/

Walter P. Chrysler, a working man who rose to the top as an industrialist, pioneered many improvements in the auto Industry and in 1925 he founded Chrysler Corporation which became the second largest automotive company in the world. 1875-1940.

Walter Percy Chrysler seated at a desk in his home in
1924. Photo courtesy Walter Chrysler Boyhood Home.
Walter was born in Wamego in 1875 and two years later his family moved to Ellis. His father was an engineer for the Kansas Pacific Railroad and after much pleading by Walter his dad relented to let him work at the railroad yard. He started as an engine wiper and worked his way into an apprenticeship. His interest and ability grew and he worked his way to a manager's position with the American Locomotive Co. In 1908 Walter attended the Chicago Auto Show and ended up buying his first car which he immediately took apart in order to see how it worked.

Chrysler's automotive career began in 1911 when Charles W. Nash, then president of the Buick Motor Co., hired Walter as production chief. Taking a 50% pay cut, Walter took the job with Buick in Flint, Michigan. He found many ways to reduce the costs of production, such as putting an end to finishing automobile under carriages with the same luxurious quality of finish that the body warranted. Walter also modernized the company, bringing production from 45 cars a day to 450.

In 1916, William C. Durant, who founded General Motors in 1908, had retaken GM from bankers who had taken over the company. Durant persuaded Chrysler to stay on with an unheard of salary offer and gave him complete control of managing Buick. Chrysler ran Buick successfully until 1919 when he resigned after a series of disagreements with Durant. Not wanting Walter's shares of GM to go on the open market, Durant bought them for 10 million dollars. Walter had started at Buick in 1911 for $6,000 a year and left one of the richest men in America.

After six months of retirement, Walter was hired to attempt a turnaround of the Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio and he successfully managed it for two years. He was also hired to run the Maxwell Company so he was running two car companies at the same time. In 1924 he brought out the Chrysler Six, which was the first car that bore his name and the Maxwell Company was incorporated into the Chrysler Corporation. He then brought out the Plymouth and DeSoto lines and in 1928 Chrysler purchased Dodge making Chrysler the second largest auto company in the world at the time.

The same year he financed the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City which was completed in 1930 and was the tallest building in the world at that time. It is still the tallest block and steel structure to this day.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Chrysler and www.kshs.org/portraits/chrysler_walter.htm and Chrysler - The life and times of an automotive genius by Vincent Curcio.

Walter Chrysler Boyhood Home. Photo courtesy Keith Stokes



  • Walter Chrysler Boyhood Home, 102 W. 10th.785.726.3636.Open after Labor Day-Memorial Weekend Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Memorial Weekend through Labor Day Weekend Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.The museum, located behind the home, is filled with many personal artifacts and a 1924 Chrysler owned by Chrysler's great grandson, Frank Rhodes.

1950 Chrysler. Photo courtesy Wamego Hist. Society


  • Wamego Historical Society Museum, E. 4th in City Park. 785.456.2040. Open daily Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m. See a 1950 Chrysler car and dealership signage.
  • Chrysler birth home, junction of K-99 and U.S. 24In 2004 Chrysler's birth home was moved from its original location at Pine and Valley to this location.  When the project is completed, the 1860 house will be used as the Pottawatomie County Visitor Center.