Salina is a Kansan city trying its best to become far, far more important than it is, despite it’s teeming population of approximately 5,000. But life is still big and grand here, located in one of the world’s largest wheat-producing areas, Salina is a regional trade center for north-central Kansas, combined with the Union Blue rail line connecting them to the rest of the USA the booming wheat town is attracting more people daily.
Any posse that makes it to Salina from the wide-open spaces of the West is sure to be struck by the city’s sheer size. It’s not the biggest in the West, but it’s certainly ahead of the curve, and far larger than most of the flyspeck burgs dotting the dusty trail.
Salina tries to do everything bigger than anywhere else. If a stunt is tried, Salina city officials convince someone to attempt the double the feat in their town. Sometimes these publicity stunts work, others times they end in spectacular failure – but either way, they draw people and attention.
Salina has a significant tourist economy, due in part to it’s proximity to several famous battle sites, both from the Bloody Kansas campaigns and the depredations of Americans and Indians alike. Travelling performers, freak shows, and circuses often stop here, finding the city hospitable to their events – for a short time, anyway. The nightlife bustles in Salina; the city books plays, musicians, and even operas to present itself as a cultured, refined place, despite it’s roots in agriculture and livestock.
Salina’s competitive nature extends to every aspect of life – a newspaper named the Salina Soothsayer is trying to rival the Epitaph in printing stories of the weird and unexplained. The Soothsayer has a very limited circulation as of yet, much of its content less spectacular than its Tombstone sibling. Filling the paper out with fluff stories and short fiction, reporter Charles Warren and the paper’s editors hope to soon grab a scoop to put it on the map.
Despite it’s history of violence and cashed-up farm and ranch hands, Salina is reputed to be hard on criminals these days. The local head Judge, Cliff Anderson, is ruthless, cruel and bloodthirsty. He often hands down punishments wildly out of proportion with the crime committed. He’s even happy to provide an illusion of escape, telling prisoners that if they complete some impossible task he’ll let them go free. The sad results is several of the local law have stopped arresting folk for minor crimes, feeling that, say, [i]losing an arm[/i] might be a little too severe a penalty for starting a bar fight.
The legacy of the various atrocities upon the local Indians and the raids by lawless Confederate Bushwhackers haunts Salina not just in the cruel overreactions of Anderson, but also in more sinister ways. The skullduggery and sneakery established in the days of visiting jayhawkers and bushwhackers exists to this day, in back streets and alleyway alcoves pocketed through the city, leading to hidden winesinks and meeting rooms where the culmination of so many travellers by land and rail means anything – and anyone – can be bought or sold here, if you know the right names or pay the right bribes.