(Ron Writing) This morning we left Tipton heading south on Hwy 181. After a few miles we took a gravel road south expecting to find the geodetic center of North America that was marked on our road map. We never did manage to find it.
After a short jog west on Hwy 18 we came to the town of Lucas, KS where we spent the rest of the morning. Lucas is a very small town that is very interesting. Many folk artists live there and it’s also the home of the “Garden of Eden” created by Samuel Perry Dinsmoor, a retired schoolteacher, Civil War veteran, farmer, and politician. Starting at the age of 64, he spent the next 22 years creating this tourist attraction out of 113 tons of cement and many tons of limestone cut from local quarries. He was an extremely eclectic individual to say the least. He prearranged for his body to embalmed using charcoal, placed in a casket he made himself, and in a mausoleum he built himself on the property. His idea was that tourists would pay to view his body through the glass cover on the casket! You can read more about this character and his creation at this web site
Lucas is a very well kept and attractive town. We walked around town viewing various eclectic art displays and also went through Eric Abraham’s Flying Pig Studio & Gallery. We enjoyed talking to Eric and learning a little about how he creates his artworks. You can see some of his very unusual ceramic and porcelain art on his web site
We also stopped by the Brant’s Meat Market and purchased some smoked pepper sausage, cheese, and ground beef. Brant’s has been in business right here since 1922 and the current owner, Doug Brant, is the third generation of the Brants to operate it. His grandfather started the business, then his father operated it for many years and how he has taken it over. We enjoyed talking to Doug about the business and how it’s changed over the years. At one time they did all their own butchering and processing but now there are too many government regulations. They purchase meat and make their own sausage etc. We sampled some for lunch and it was delicious.
The Lucas civic center has an open WiFi which I took advantage of to get the past couple daily blogs posted. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting a cell signal that is good enough to get photos uploaded to the blog. I usually manage to get email but the connection is very slow and won’t handle the large photo files.
This afternoon we headed south from Lucas on Hwy 232. This is the heart of the “post rock” country. There are hundreds of miles of barbed wire fences strung on posts made of the locally quarried limestone rock. This rock was readily available when the early pioneers arrived. At that time there were very few trees or other materials to use for fencing. This is the same limestone used to construct many buildings in this area. Many of these buildings are still in use. Each fence post is about 8 feet long and weighs about 800 pounds. It was a lot of hard working getting these fence posts cut, hauled, and set in place using horses and wagons.
We stopped by Wilson Lake and drove over Wilson dam as we continued south to the small town of Wilson, KS. Wilson’s main attraction is the restored historic Midland Hotel. This hotel was built in 1901 and was considered one the best hotels in the west at that time. In 1973 the movie “Paper Moon” was filmed in Wilson and many scenes were filmed in the Midland Hotel. Wilson has a Czech heritage which they celebrate with a couple festivals each year.
We left Wilson heading southeast on Hwy. 140 and stopped to look around the town of Ellsworth. Ellsworth is another KS town that began as a very wild “cow town” when this area was first settled. We looked around the original “main street” along the railroad tracks. There were many displays about the history of the town.
We drove southwest from Ellsworth to the small town of Holyrood, KS. There’s not much to see or do here but it was getting late so we found a nice place to park on a wide side-street by the Lutheran church.
While driving today we saw a raccoon running beside the road – first time we’ve ever seen one in the wild. We also saw and heard western meadowlarks, a large hawk flying with a snake dangling from its beak, a robin feeding its newly hatched chicks, and another collared lizard. Just another fun-filled day of memorable experiences!