Many of the historic hotels in Kansas date to the same era—the days of rail expansion when a station on the railway system literally would put a town on the map. The Wolf Hotel is one such building, but today, it may be more notable for what takes place underground.
The town of Ellinwood, Kansas, was founded in 1871 in speculation that the railroad was coming to town. By 1881, a branch line opened, putting the town on the map. The Wolf Hotel soon followed, built across the street from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad station. This classical hotel was designed by Wichita architect S.S. Voigt and completed in 1894. Originally an addition to the Delmonico Hotel, today, the Wolf Hotel is all that stands.
Underneath the Wolf Hotel, a tunnel system once connected the businesses of Ellinwood. The lower passageways connected shops, and even had an underground economy of its own. During Prohibition, the tunnels were especially useful as a place to store and distribute bootleg alcohol.
The Wolf Hotel had many uses over many years but has been operating once again as a hotel and event space since 2013. In addition to hotel rooms, the Wolf Hotel also hosts comedy shows, an escape room, a prohibition-era-themed saloon, and of course, tours of the underground tunnel system.
Know Before You Go
The Historic Wolf Hotel is a working hotel. Reservations must be in made in advance for the underground tunnel tour. The hotel management is currently requesting donations to keep the tunnel system alive for tourism.