PRAIRIE TRIP PART 1
We flew to Kansas City on a very nice non stop Southwest Airline flight that arrived 15 minutes early. We rented a car at Alamo, and drove to TOPEKA, KS, which is the Capitol. We checked into our motel, had a good dinner at CRACKER BARREL restaurant, and got a much needed good night's sleep.
The next morning we finally found this delightful KANSAS MUSEUM OF HISTORY which also contains a historical library and research center. It is located in the far Northwest corner of the city, actually out in the prairie. Here Marie stands in some of the tall prairie grass.
This is the front entrance to the museum
There are extensive exhibits regarding the life and culture of the Prairie Indians . Here is a full size reproduction of one of the types of dwellings used by one of the tribes .
The next section of the museum focused on the pioneers, and here is a covered wagon typical of that era. All of the exhibits were extensive and comprehensive, and very well done.
This is a real locomotive that was used during the early years of railroading in Kansas. There were a number of railroad cars representing different configurations then in use. There were also automobiles, farm machinery, items from the CIVIL WAR era, furnished rooms, stores, etc. We enjoyed it very much and wished we had more time to do it justice.
Next we drove through Topeka from the northwest corner to the southeast corner, passing through the heart of the city and the Capitol buildings. It was a very nice city with beautiful residential areas and public buildings, and it was very easy to drive since the traffic was very light. Nothing like LA!!
Our next goal was this COMBAT AIR MUSEUM that is located on a large deactivated military air base called FORBES FIELD. I reminded Marie that we once went to a baseball game at a ball field in Pittsburgh, PA called FORBES FIELD. It is named after a British General who died in the French and Indian war. This airbase is named after an Air Force pilot from this area who died in a crash of the experimental flying wing at the Air Force's "Muroc Lake" test base in the late 1940's. Another pilot who died in that crash was Captain Edwards, and they changed the name of Muroc Lake to "Edwards Air Base", in his honor.
All of the planes,except a four engine reconnaissance plane, are housed in two very large hangars.
This is a Douglas A4d Skyhawk. It was a very successful Navy plane that was flown by some of my friends.
This is a Russian Mig 15 which fought against us in the Korean War. It was very good.
This is what most of the area looks like -- flat, with lots of sky. The western parts are flatter and have few trees. There are more trees in the Eastern portions.
We next headed to Emporia, KS., driving through some torrential rain cells, which had me scanning the horizon for funnel clouds! We checked into our hotel for another good nights sleep. Our Elderhostel will start in this hotel tomorrow afternoon.
The next morning, Sunday, we drove to the "National Tall Grass Prairie Preserve", Which was created when a group of conservationists raised the funds to buy the historic "Spring Hill Ranch", that was founded by a very wealthy Texan in the 1860's. He built this huge barn, currently the second largest in Kansas, from the local limestone. This is now operated by the Nation Park Service Rangers.
Here is the story of the Barn
Here is the spectacular house that he also had built from the local limestone. It was the most magnificent in the area and the subject of much attention in the local newspapers.
We signed up for the guided bus tour by the ranger, and he took this photo of us standing in some of the native tall grasses.
A view of the prairie.
Our ranger with some of our group.
I was really surprised by the number of beautiful "dry stone" walls. These are just made with carefully fitted local stones, and use no cement. Many date back to the late 1800's when the Kansas Legislature passed laws that ended the age of the "Open Range", requiring all of the ranches to build boundary fences.. Since wood was scarce and the stones plentiful, thats what was used. A skilled wall builder would build a wall that was 16 feet long and 5 feet high in one day for two dollars!
Next we went to this historic restaurant located in the town of Council Grove, Kansas, at the historic start of the Santa Fe Trail. This restaurant was built by the grandson of Daniel Boone and is on the Register of Historic Places. It claims to be the longest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi. And the buffet was great!