October 28, 2012 – Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Shawnee, Olathe and Lenexa, Kansas
I’ve been watching the coverage of Hurricane Sandy. It sounds like it is going to be quite a storm. I’m just glad that I don’t live on the east coast.
I spent most of today on the Kansas side of the line in Kansas City. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall was erected in 1924 to commemorate the sacrifice of the men of Wyandotte County during WWI.
There are murals scattered along Minnesota Avenue which celebrate the diversity of KC, Kansas. This side of the river has always been the place where immigrants settled. The stockyards and most of the heavy industry were located in Kansas and these were the jobs that immigrants worked at.
In the middle of downtown is the Huron Indian Cemetery Mound. There are more than 400 burials there. Only about 120 graves have been identified. There are several markers which simply say “Many unmarked graves in this area”. In 1907, the cemetery was going to be sold for commercial purposes. 2 sisters – Eliza and Helena Conley – erected a small shack over their parents’ graves and slept there in the cold of winter and hot of summer for 3 years. They were armed with their father’s shotgun. In 1910 Eliza Burton Conley became the 1st woman of Native American descent to argue a case before the US Supreme Court. Although the court was sympathetic, she lost the case. But, public opinion and support from community groups prevented the sale. In 1913 Senator Charles Curtis from Topeka, Kansas, himself part Kanza Indian, persuaded Congress to repeal the sale authorization.
It was a beautiful fall day, and there were several artists who were there painting. Because it is a mound, there are good views of the surrounding area, and they were taking advantage of the view and the weather.
The former Scottish Rite Temple is located next to the Huron Cemetery. It was constructed in 1909 and served as a base for Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns during WWI. During the flood of 1951, it became the center of relief activities. It is now owned by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma and is a casino.
One block of Minnesota was under construction. The Seth Thomas clock which had stood on that block since 1914 wasn’t there. I don’t know if it had been removed until completion of the construction, or if it is just gone. Another thing which was gone was the Matthias Splitlog (member of the Wyandotte tribe) Home. He built the 1st sawmill and gristmill in KC in 1852. He also operated a ferry across the Kansas River. He was known as the “millionaire Indian”. It was a 2 story, brick home, but it was recently torn down or moved, I’m not sure which.
Kaw Point Park commemorates the Lewis and Clark Expedition that stopped here in 1804. It was a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography. The Expedition arrived at Kaw’s Point (the Kansas River is also called the Kaw River) on June 26, 1804. It is where the Kansas River runs into the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark halted at the mouth of the Kansas for 3 days while repairs were made to the boats and exploration of the surrounding area was done. A hunting expedition was mounted and resulted in the killing of several deer. A court martial was held and 2 men were given lashes – one was a sentry (100 lashes) and one a man who appropriated whiskey (50 lashes).
There is a statue of Lewis and Clark looking up the Missouri River. There is also a great view of downtown KC Missouri.
KC, Kansas is a town of neighborhoods. The Strawberry Hills section is a pretty residential area. The Argentine section is across the Kansas River and is home to the Argentine Steps. 13th Street between Ruby and another street (sorry I didn’t write down the name of it) is a series of 169 steps. It is the only street in KC made up entirely of steps and when it was built was the only access to homes located along it.
There is a large flat iron sculpture located in the Strawberry Hill area. I’m not sure what the significance of it is, but it is kind of neat.
In the Rosedale area, there is the Rosedale Memorial Arch. It was originally erected to honor Rosedale area residents who served and sacrificed during WWI. It was designed by a local resident who based the design on the Arc de Triomphe. It was dedicated in 1923. It stands at the crest of a hill and overlooks the KC skyline. In 1993, a monument was placed under the arch to honor soldiers of WWII, Korea and the Viet Nam Wars.
From there, it was a short drive to Thomas Hart Benton’s home which is on the Missouri side of the line. It is a lovely home in an exclusive area. It is a museum now, and I’ll just bet that the people who own those large, beautiful, expensive homes love having cars clutter up their very narrow streets.
The Scout is a sculpture located on a bluff overlooking the rivers and both Kansas City’s. It was sculpted by Cyrus Dallin of KC. It is over 10’ tall and depicts a Sioux Indian on horseback surveying the landscape. It was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915. It was erected temporarily in KC but was so popular that it became a permanent fixture. The ”Kids of Kansas City” campaign raised $15,000 in nickels and dimes to keep the sculpture in KC.
In Westport there is a statue of 3 men who were connected to the 3 trails (Santa Fe, California and Oregon) which left from there headed west. They are Majors (a freighter), McCoy (realtor and builder) and Bridger (mountain man, trapper, trader and Indian fighter). The map located there is one of the best I’ve seen showing the various trails.
The Vietnam Memorial Fountain located in Westport is one of the nicest fountains in KC in my opinion. It creates a quiet, restful atmosphere in the middle of a busy city. There is a mini-Viet Nam Wall which lists the names of soldiers from the area who died in Viet Nam.
Pioneer Crossing Park is located in Shawnee. It evidently was quite controversial when it was built as residents questioned spending nearly a million dollars on the stone & bronze sculptures and a narrow wedge of 2.2 acres of park land. It was dedicated as a Sesquicentennial Project when Shawnee celebrated its 150th birthday in 2006.
The sculptures were designed by local artist Charles Goslin. One is a wagon train which has been re-created in a life size, 3-D brick monument. The sculpture of Dick Williams, Wagon Master is created in native limestone and bronze. The California Road, Fort Leavenworth Military Road, Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail all crossed here.
I was sorry that the 1950’s all-electric house was not open for tours on the day I was there. It features futuristic items such as hidden televisions, electric curtain openers, trendy appliances, remote control for the coffeemaker, germicidal lights in the bathroom, speakers located outside the picture window so you could watch TV outside through the window and moon glow lighting located near the floor. It has built-in electrical outlets every 3’ which are mounted waist high so you didn’t have to bend over to plug in anything.
Talking time is a memorial to Chief Charles Bluejacket located in a small park in Shawnee. It is a Charles Goslin sculpture. Reverend Bluejacket was a Shawnee chief, minister and farmer. He is reading to 2 children.
The Hands of Freedom sculpture represent “the hands of all American Veterans striving to hold the world aloft in freedom”. It is located in another small park in Shawnee.
Another Charles Goslin sculpture is located along a walking trail on Blackfish Parkway. It is entitled Shawnee Indian Prayer Wheel. There is also a marker honoring Chief Blackfish in the same place.
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm is located in Olathe. It is the last remaining stagecoach stop open to the public on the Santa Fe Trail. It focuses on 1860s farming, stagecoach operations and westward expansion. Stagecoach passengers and other travelers stopped here for meals in the 1860s. They served as many as 50 meals a day. Besides serving as a stagecoach shop, it was a profitable farm.
The Legler Barn is located in Lenexa. It was built in 1864. It is a stone barn and is one of the few such left in Kansas. It was moved to the current site in 1983. Also located at this site is the relocated Lenexa 1912-1913 Frisco Train Depot, a reproduction sod house and a renovated prairie schooner.
Grinter Place was built in 1857 by Moses Grinter who was one of the earliest permanent white settlers. He set up the Grinter Ferry on the Kansas River which was used by individuals such as traders, freighters and soldiers traveling between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott on the military road. It was home to the 1st non-military post office in Kansas. He married a half-Lenape (Delaware) woman named Windagamen which meant Sweetness. She was one of a couple dozen Delaware women who became US citizens when the territory became a state.
The last stop of the day was at the Legends Shopping Center. There is a restaurant there named T-Rex Café. The exterior sports a giant T-Rex and a 125’ long skeleton of an Argentinosaurus which frames the entrance to the restaurant. Other legends represented by markers or sculpture include Amelia Earhart, Dorothy Gale (Wizard of Oz Dorothy), Edward Dwight Jr. (sculptor and aeronautical engineer) and Corporal Lucas Frantz representing the American soldier. He was killed by an Iraqi sniper on his 22d birthday in 2005.
I stopped to have supper in Overland Park and then headed home. I should have come on to Emporia to eat because I got caught in the traffic from the KC Chiefs game. Normally, there is not much traffic once you get south of Gardner, but not that wasn’t so tonight. It was heavy all the way to Emporia.
Patsy called tonight and said that she would be coming through Emporia tomorrow and if I was still going to be here she would stop by. She will call me tomorrow when she leaves KC, and we will get together for supper.