Hays House (Restaurant)

A large two-story historic building with an upstairs veranda and
Visit Hay's House in Council Grove.


Quick Facts
112 W. Main Street (U.S. Highway 56) at Neosho Street, Council Grove
Known as the oldest continously operating landmark west of the Mississippi, the Hays House serves as a reminder of the different varieties of public life along the Santa Fe Trail.
Certified Site, National Historic Landmark

Food/Drink - Restaurant/Table Service

The Hays House lays claim to being the oldest, continuously-operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Seth Hays, great-grandson of Daniel Boone, was Council Grove’s first permanent settler. He came here in 1847 to trade with the Kaw (Kansa) Indians, who purchased guns, blankets, flour, and tinware from him. About 1857, he replaced his log store with this frame building, which served citizens and travelers as a trading post, courthouse, post office, printing office, and meeting and social hall.

Business was lively in Council Grove: in a four day period in 1860, the Kaw Indians spent $15,000 here and across the street at the Conn Store. The Santa Fe trade became increasingly lucrative. In 1863, Hay’s former partner, G. M. Simcock, estimated that $40 million in freight was hauled in ox- and mule-drawn wagons through the town.

In addition to supplies, the Hays House offered meals and rooms to weary traders on their eight-week trip between New Mexico and Missouri. The Kansas Press described the accommodations in 1859 this way:

“Those who have occasion to stop at Council Grove, on the Santa Fe Road, will do well to ‘put up’ with Charles A. Gilkey [Hay’s hotel clerk]…mine host of the Hayes House. [They]…cannot but help feeling quite at home.”

Site Information

Location (112 W. Main Street (U.S. Highway 56) at Neosho Street, Council Grove)


Available Facilities 
The Hays House, a longtime restaurant, is known as the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi.

Today, the Hays House contains many historical artifacts, including artwork, arrowheads, other American Indian relics, and a notable crystal collection. There is an outdoor exhibit in front of the building.

Safety Considerations

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Last updated: January 14, 2023