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Nice touches in Russell County

Russell, Kansas -Dorrance, Kansas
Nice touches come in all forms.

An angel found in Russell's Lincoln Park.

Step inside Russell's post office to see Section Art painted by Martyl Schweig in 1940. 

If someone cared enough to put up a commemorative memorial to the Carrie
Oswald No. 1 discovery well of the Fairport Oil Field, then, by golly, we were
willing to go out of the way to see it.  The view from this memorial offers a
grand vista of the Smoky Hills dotted with oil wells.  From Gorham, go one
mile east to the black top, 177th Road.  Go north 9 miles to Beatty Road,
turn west for a mile.  It's on the north side of the road.

Limestone rock arts honors three influential men in the oil field business.

Dorrance, good job in remembering your fire department brothers.

A happy sign welcoming people to the Dorrance city park.

These are some nice touches we see as we explore and ERV around Kansas. 

See you down the road, KE #2 Marci Penner


Halfway to Paradise

Luray, Kansas -Paradise, Kansas

From a nice rest break at Luray's city park,  you are ten miles west of the Garden of Eden and thirteen miles east of Paradise. 

In 1859, a hunting party explored the area finding abundant in water, timber, and bison. One of the hunters, James R. Mead, described the site as paradise.  Today's population is under 50.

The welcome sign is positioned in front of the landmark 1938 WPA stone water tower.

The Garden of Eden is located in another Russell County town, Lucas.

From 1907 to 1929, S.P. Dinsmoor built a concrete log cabin and Garden of Eden sculptures that interpreted his version of life, the Bible and politics.  This town of under 400 is located at one end of the Post Rock Scenic Byway.

Hope to meet you on the road somewhere between Paradise and the Garden of Eden!  Kansas Explorer #2, Marci Penner


Tripping my trigger in Russell County

Bunker Hill, Kansas -Russell, Kansas -Waldo, Kansas -Luray, Kansas
Sometime people ask why they should "dare to do dirt" and visit small towns.

The answer:  If you have the Explorer spirit in you, you will find a little something that will tickle your fancy every time.

Here are some of those ticklers that we found in Russell County when ERVing July 10-12, 2013.

We were on our way to the Bunker Hill cemetery and drove by this tastefully done tower of Russell County rock!

It's not often that you see bleachers and a stage in a cemetery!

But you'll find them in the Bunker Hill cemetery, one mile north and one mile east of town.

Live bait, cold beer.  The essentials.  Gotta love it.  It's one mile north of Bunker Hill, the corner to the cemetery which is also the corner to Wilson Lake.

In Waldo, it's a real leaner...

...and nearby is a house with three pointers!

This one didn't really tickle my fancy.  In fact, it made me cringe!  Still, you have to see it to believe it -- and this was only one jar of the collection!  Dr. Herrick was the local dentist from 1910 into the 1950s.  For $2 he'd pull your tooth -- and keep it.  It's on display at the Fossil Museum in Russell.

At the Cattl-Ac Cafe on K-18 at Luray they'll spin some good food to you on this counter top made from a bowling alley lane!

Be truthful.  Have you ever seen a stop sign on a limestone post?  You will in Luray!

I know.  I lost you after the jar of teeth.  I'll stop.

See you down the road as we go to every incorporated city in Kansas!  Kansas Explorer #2, Marci Penner


Hutchinfun is made for kids!

Hutchinson, Kansas

Kids under twelve, Hutchinson is made for you!

Start at Strataca.  Adventure from start to finish, underground!

Get instructions, your helmet, and then step into the elevator to take a two-minute trip down 650 feet into what was once a real salt mine.

Hop on the tram for a guided tour.  Part of the ride is called a "dark ride" because you'll be in the dark!

A mini-train also takes you around the mine on tracks used by the miners.

Between rides are interesting exhibits, displays, videos, and samples of what is stored in the Underground Vaults.

Come on, let's get outside!

At the south end of Main is the grand entrance to Carey Park.  The park is home to walking or bicycle trails, picnic tables, fishing areas, lots of ducks, the aquatic center, and a zoo.

Landscaped areas and water features fill the areas between the animal spaces at the Hutchinson Zoo.  Not too big, it's easy to get around.

Pelicans are on the pond.  It's also fun to see otter, beaver, fox, hawks, prairie dogs, turkeys, goats, deer and more.  Kids can uncover "fossils" in the sand at the Dino Dig.  A miniature train ride is available, too.

Dillon Nature Center is located just east of the K-61 and 30th Street intersection.  What a maximum kid place.  As if the indoor wildlife exhibits and outdoor trails aren't enough, a Playscape area is now available!

Look closely.  Kids can pump water (picture on the right) into a sandy area then make all the ditches, hills, and valleys they want.  A chance to get your hands in the sand!

Put some sound into the air.  Outdoor drums and a big xylophone are at your disposal!

Whether you're hot or it's time to clean up before you leave, there are streams of water to cool and clean your feet.

If you're still hot, head to Avenue A Park where greenery, flowers, water, and art make it a pleasing place.

All the equipment at the spray park provide a fun, fun way to get refreshed.

Give your day a sweet ending with a soda fountain treat from Fraese Drug, 25 N. Main.

ERV had a great time in Hutchinfun.  You will, too!

KE #2 Marci Penner


Tribune - named after a newspaper

Tribune, Kansas

Tribune, the county seat of Greeley County, is named after the leading newspaper of its time, the New York Tribune.  The county and a town both carry the name of the publisher, Horace Greeley.   Though Greeley never came out to western Kansas, fans of his named many towns, streets, and counties for him.  (Amy Bickel tells more of the story).

Mired in a drought, there is still much that is vibrant in this county that has the smallest population in Kansas (1,247 in 2010).  On the other hand, they can brag that they are one of only four counties to grow more than 3% in the last year. 

Volunteerism is one thing that drives the vibrancy.  Another is the dedication of the professionals in the community.

The Gooch family has kept the doors open to the local grocery store despite tough conditions for rural markets.  The store is a community anchor.

Dixon Drug is another mainstay.  From pharmaceuticals to shovels, this business is more like an old-time general store -- and the service is great!

Dan and Jan Epp run a successful, informative, fun-to-read independently-owned newspaper, the Greeley County Republican.  Dan's dad, Otto, ran the paper from 1933-1994.  Another anchor.

The Trench, the Burger Bar, and Elliott's Gastro Pub are three places to eat in town.  Elliott's has a commitment to serve farm-to-table made-from-scratch foods, including the very popular chocolate chip cookie lathered with homemade ice cream.

At the county fairgrounds you'll find the skeleton of a home-owned carnival.  Come fair time (first week of August), the seats come out of the shed and the gears all get oiled as volunteers make it all come to life.

It's a lucky small town that has a movie theater and thanks to volunteers who run the ticket window, the concession stand, and are the clean-up crew, Tribune is one of those towns.  The Star Theater runs digital movies and the sound system is outstanding.

They have a bowling alley, too!  A non-profit group runs the six-lane Tribune Fun Bowl.

The Prairie Ridge Golf Course is a 9-hole bent grass ($15 greens fee) course run by volunteers.  A barbed wire fence separates the park area and the golf course. 

A county since 1873, there is plenty of history to be told.  From the historic jail to a big marble collection to empty cereal boxes and old band uniforms, volunteers have arranged diverse artifacts along with lining the main hallway with photos in this old 1890 limestone courthouse.

Tribune also has lots of explorer-type attractions from the array of elevators, including a GANO, to the following:

These are the remains of the Greeley County Poor Farm.  Unlike most poor farms, these were smaller units made of adobe brick and stucco.  The poor farm remnants are located one mile east of town on K-96, then  south on 17 Road one mile.  Look on the west side of the road and watch out for snakes!

A black disc marks the remote and rugged GAR Cemetery.  A few Civil War graves,  "unknown" graves, and the feature stone that tells the story of the Rodgers brothers are found scattered throughout the cemetery amidst the brush and badger holes.

The Rodger brothers were lost and perished in the blizzard of 1886.  Their father John buried them here alongside their faithful collie.  John Rodgers then deeded the burial ground to the local army G.A.R. post in 1891.

The cemetery is located 11 miles west of Tribune on K-96, then 2.5 miles north on Road 5 and 1/2 mile west on Road O.

For a spot of color stop at what was first-named the Greeley County Community High School.  It's located at Lawrence and Peters.

Built in 1931, the art deco colors of lavender, orange, green, and blue added a beautiful touch to the brick building.

What a great place to experience small town life in western Kansas.  You've got lodging, movies, golf, bowling, dare-to-do-dirt attractions, a museum, shopping, and eating.  It's all good in Greeley County!

See you down the road, Kansas Explorer #2, Marci Penner