What You Need To Know Before You Go

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by Penelope SanMateo

Many people think of Kansas tourism as this flat wasteland in the center of the United States. How wrong they are! Kansas is filled with interesting history, beautiful prairielands, museums, cultural events and attractions and the nicest people anywhere. You can travel in Kansas going from the large city of Kansas City to the little bitty town of Garnett where hospitality is shown in abundance.

When I tell you that you can visit the small towns it’s no joke. Kansas has a large number of towns under 1000 people. Take Selden for example. Here, according to the July 2007 report there is a population of 177. Even though there are small towns there is huge pride and friendliness so stop in and say hello. There is land enough to give you some space, views that go on for “ever” and history that will keep you interested for hours on end. Try your luck hunting the pheasants at one of the ranches or farms that take you out during the season.

Ghosts, goblins and scary homes, that’s what you can expect when you visit the “Most Haunted Town in Kansas.” Atchison not only takes pride in this title but they have the Haunted Atchison Trolley Tour in September and October to take visitors around to the different homes that are acclaimed to be haunted. You will ride on the 1880 AT&SF trolley while seeing houses such as the McIntreer Villa where lights in the tower go on and off and there is not electricity there, ghosts appear in the windows and in family photos. Hear the footsteps that are in rooms where there is no one and doors closing in rooms that are empty. Scary! The one hour tour will show you a number of homes in the community that are claimed to be haunted…come and find out all about them.

Near Augusta there is Henry’s Sculpture Hill with its wide array of unique outdoor sculptures, primarily made from steel and/or found objects. Now, this being a private hill the owner has stopped tours for now due to “maintenance, insurance, old age, and attitude, [but] serious buyers who are looking for original steel sculptures are welcome by appointment.” Now doesn’t that just sound like an artist? How neat and fun. If you are looking for something totally different you may want to visit the hill as a “buyer”.

Want to visit the Garden of Eden? Just think of your Kansas vacation as an opportunity to do just that in Lucas at the “log house” built by a retired school teacher following the Civil War. Dinsmoor took “logs” made of limestone, laid them in the same pattern as timber logs would be placed and created his home. None of the windows or doors are the same size, he wanted the house to have character and attract attention. The construction took 31 years before he was completely done with the house and the gardens where he used 113 lbs of concrete and limestone to create his vision. The 11 room house was shown in tours to those that wanted to see it in his time and still today. To visit the house has a fee of $6 for adults and $1 for kids.

Manhattan has more than college football. There is the great Fort Riley where you can really get to study military history. As part of your learning experience you can visit the last cavalry training stables with its original cobblestone flooring which used to house 76 horses. Today it still houses horses for the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard where 20 head are ready for parade all the time. This facility was built in 1889. This is just one of the many historical sites you can see and learn about while at the Fort. Although today the technology and advancements in military power are constantly being updated, history is still worth learning about.

Take the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway to see the true color of Kansas. Here the hills are filled with canyons, rolling hills, mesas and buttes in stunning color, right in central Kansas. The red cedar tress add a beautiful touch to the terrain. The land is red because it is full of iron oxide which is actually rust. Get off the paved roads to see the real beauty but keep in mind that this is open range so keep your eyes open for animals.

How many towns do you know that have two water towers? Probably a lot of them, but have you ever seen a town that has a Hot and Cold water tower? Canton has these two which must bring a chuckle to residents when visitors ask if it’s really true that one has hot and one has cold! It sure does show that those Kansas folks have a great sense of humor.

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