The main motivating factor that pushed me to southeast Kansas was learning about a UH-1 Huey helicopter at the Memorial to Kansas Vietnam Veterans. I do not know what the draw is but ever since I was a little boy I have been fascinated with the Huey helicopters.
It was always mesmerizing every time it was on the television, total concentration at the air shows when one would come in to land or take off and fly away. There was nothing this helicopter could not do.
I am posting pictures of the Huey and if anyone has any information about the history of this particular helicopter, please contact me. I like to learn the history of the Hueys I come across when I am wandering about our area.
A small jewel that I came across in Southeast Kansas was the Carona Depot and Railroad Museum. I had read on a few other blogs about a train depot somewhere around Scammon, Kansas but could not find a webpage for it. Luckily there were a few signs directing us where to go.
Though technically the place was not open for the season yet, the gentleman was extremely kind to unlock the various buildings and give us a guided tour. He took the time to explain the equipment and history and even invited Kim and Connor to try out certain displays, such as the phone that was a distant relative to our cell phones.
Through two 1880s depot buildings and amongst the train engine and cars that was present the gentleman explained how the museum came to possess every display and the history behind most everything we were shown.
The museum building holds the Downes Collection, which consist of hand-made wooden models of locomotives. The detail exhibited in these trains is inspiring. I can only imagine the dedication and time that was required to administer such detail.
All in all there is a ton of railroad history to learn at the Carona Depot and Railroad Museum. The gentleman we talked to and who lead us through the property was full of information and made special effort to include the kids in everything he was talking about.
6769 Northwest 20th
Scammon, KS 66773
As we turned onto NW 60th Street from Highway 102, the monstrous electric shovel towered above the trees like a dinosaur prowling along the tree line. My son made the comment that it was “like Godzilla.”
I cannot even begin to describe the massive “Big Brutus”. I tried taking a photograph of the 11 million pound electric shovel with Kim & Connor standing at the base of it only to have them nearly disappear next to the immense size of the machine. Anything of that size really puts a person in their humbled place. We were allowed to climb up into the belly of “Big Brutus” to see the mechanics of what it took to operate such a mammoth machine.
Sitting in the operator’s seat we watched 3 men walking out of the bucket, I had seen them earlier in the museum and they were pretty big guys. They looked minuscule in comparison. I stood there studying all the cables, pulleys, winches and everything was just like what I had seen before, only of a much larger size, except the doors and stairways which were barely large enough for me to get through with my backpack on
The museum houses many photographs that depict not only “Big Brutus” but other electric shovels while they were in use. According to the brochure, “Brutus” ceased working in April 1974 due to the increasing costs of operating such a colossal machine. The final month of electric usage cost the Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company (P&M) $27,000.
Even if you have no desire to learn about the mining in Kansas, “Big Brutus” is well worth the time to visit and tour. It is not often that I am awestruck but I could barely fathom this titanic machine.
By the time I arrived at Lauritzen Gardens the clouds had mostly cleared and the sun was beginning to warm everything up. Lauritzen Gardens is, as their website says, an “urban oasis.”
Your senses are flooded with the vivid colors and architectural arrangements throughout the park. From the Peony Garden to the Sunpu Castle Gate and Mt. Fuji replica, the gardens are an absolute Eden to walk through.
The Victorian Garden, bordered by red brick walls and ornamental iron, are lined by perennial flowers, vines, and accents that give each section its own appeal. The aroma drifting through the air is sweet; the aura of the garden is such that it is impossible not to relax as you are walking through. The reflecting pool in the center serves to enhance the atmosphere.
The Peony Garden and Rose Garden are a visual treat where vivid colors abound. The sunshine made the colors pop even more. I probably spent more time in these two gardens taking photos than any other part. It appeared that some new rose bushes were in the process of being planted. When everything blooms out I can only imagine the splendor.
An interesting addition was the Sunpu Castle Gate and Mt. Fuji replica. The replica stands at 377.6 inches tall. The real Mt. Fuji stands at 3,776 meters tall making it 400 times larger than replica. The walk to the replica is lined with carved stone lanterns adding to the authenticity.
Though I am far from being an expert on flowers and landscaping, you do not have to be to enjoy the different styles of gardens and the multitudes of flowers. The landscaping makes it impossible to not relax as you walk from the Festival Garden to the Founder’s Garden.
A bonus, especially if you have children, is the Model Railroad Garden, which has several trains running through miniature replicas of famous architectural designs. Bridges span overhead as the kids were running back and forth, every train that approached brought more excitement in their steps and voices.
Across the parking lot are the steps that lead to Kenefick Park, at the top of which you can explore around two of the biggest Union Pacific locomotives. Standing at the rail you can look out over Nebraska and Iowa and scout the Missouri River Valley. Take the time to read the plaques that line the walk to the locomotives, there is a lot of history to learn.
A-7 Corsair II
It was nice being able to leave the house at 6:20am and not need a jacket. The driveway showed signs of a rain sometime during the night but the forecast was not calling for rain. The cooler was filled with cheese, mayo, onion, 12-grain whole wheat bread, mustard, and a couple of jugs of Nestle iced tea.
The sun was already up when I left the house and drove to the highway and headed north to Omaha. For personal reasons I had cancelled my appointment with the Henry Doorly Zoo but the issues had been resolved late Friday night and I decided to continue with the trip.
About an hour south of Council Bluffs, IA, I realized that in my haste of getting everything ready to go, I had neglected to pack the deli cuts in the cooler. My plan for not having to stop and eat was not working out quite like I wanted.
The low dark gray clouds allowed some relief from the usual blinding sun rays that usually make the morning drives a hassle. Traffic was light for a Saturday morning and I managed to drive through Council Bluffs and Omaha without much difficulty.
Freedom Park sits right on the Missouri River, which was beginning to flood the small marina next door. The river had not yet begun to overtake the park. Some of the displays were in serious need of repair as most vehicles had flat tires and were in dire need of paint. Others appeared to have begun being restored with new paint and minor repairs. The main displays are the USS Hazard minesweeper ship and the USS Marlin training submarine. Both are an impressive display; however no one was there so I could not tour the ships. The A-4 Skyhawk sat atop the display pole, aimed into the wild blue yonder. The A-7 Corsair II and HH-52 Coast Guard helo sat quietly, a solemn reminder of the lives lost and lives saved.
One ship propeller had a diameter of 11 feet and 10 inches and weighs 13,890 pounds was used on Cleveland-class cruisers and Independence class carriers. It is a good image showing the power it took to move naval vessels around the world. Anchors from 3,000 to 16,000 pounds are on display, their colossal size further demonstrating the power that is required for naval vessels.
It seems they are on a good track restoring the displays and returning the aircraft, ships, and vehicles to their former glory. I will look forward to returning to Freedom Park in a couple of years and see the progress being made.
Few memories stand out from my childhood as much as the campouts my friends and I used to take. Grabbing the old canvas A.L.I.C.E. pack and filling it with a change of clothes, enough food to last a couple of days, water, and anything else we deemed necessary to make it through the weekend. Of course there was always something we would forget, such as the small camp cook set to fry the bacon and eggs or the fork and spoon set so we would have to end up eating with our fingers only to discover afterwards that we did not pack napkins either.
We were always obsessed with the military at that age and planned to enlist right out of high school, though only one person I know of did. We all begged our parents to buy the camouflage pants and jackets, the military style canteens and anything else we felt we needed. The compasses, even though we were within sight of houses at most places, or the waterproof matches that we never took out of the boxes.
One campout we happened to have a bag of fireworks and after lighting off a few bottle rockets we realized that it was rather mundane and set about brainstorming something to entertain us more. The bright idea we came up with was to set the bag directly in the fire and whatever happened would be what happened. It also happened to be the night that my friend’s father finally let us borrow his new tent that he had spent a small fortune on. We had been lectured for more than twenty minutes about taking care of the tent and not putting any holes in it, a warning stemming from the many tents that did not come through unscathed.
The red embers crept along the edges of the bag as the orange flame began to consume the brown fibrous paper. The thick and orange tinted smoke poured from the open mouth of the bag like a smooth brew. The first ignition blew the bottom of the bag open, pouring the contents directly into the glowing orange and red embers below. The first hiss came as a bottle rocket took flight and shot across the campsite popping in the underbrush. A few more hisses and pops as smoke trails began tracing through the air. A few small explosions as some homemade fireworks spread hot coals a few feet out from the fire. Then it happened. One of the largest rockets in the bag took flight and all of us stared in utter horror as it flew straight into one side of the tent and sparks left small melt pocks down the side of the tent.
When it landed inside the tent it sputtered and hissed as orange and yellow sparks melted their way through the side and bottom of the tent. Finally the final POP announced the end of the rockets life but its destruction was already done and we knew that the next day would bring us a world of trouble. There was not one hole, there were hundreds melted through and soon we would have to face the wrath of my friend’s father. Needless to say that set a somber mood for the rest of the night.
Although we had all tried to take our part of the blame, we were all taken home and punishment was administered which wasn’t too severe. Grounded from camping for awhile and we never were allowed to use the expensive tents again.
Lakeside Nature Center
4701 East Gregory Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64132-1693
It was the perfect day for a relaxing stroll through Powell Gardens
. The day started warm and everything was green and blooming out. The majority of the flowers were blooming in the most brilliant colors and shades throughout the gardens making for a tranquil walk through several very different areas.
The Perennial Gardens
offered a plethora of vividly colored perennials that made for a stimulating walk through the concrete and brick path that wound lazily around the Japanese Pagoda Tree
and the resting Parasaurolophus
and the Tyrannosaurus Rex
lurking behind the bushes.
As the heat of the day begins to settle in, the Rock and Waterfall Garden
provides a welcome relief from the sun. Speckled sunlight falls on the path as it makes the shades of emerald glow through the canopy of freshly unfurled leaves. Two streams spill over a few humble waterfalls adding an audible aesthetic to the air. Stealing through the foliage are Bambiraptors
stalking their next meal. An Allosaurus
with three young ones ambles along the wood line of the garden.
The Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel,
a design by Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings Architects,
emits an energy that can seem almost magical. There is a perception that emanates from the Chapel
that seems to alleviate any tension a person may be experiencing.
Guarding the walk into the Island Garden
are a Placerias
and a Postosuchus
waiting for a stray visitor to leave the path.
The six hundred foot “living” wall, the longest in the country, lines the path through the Island Garden
. It houses plants from nearly every continent. Here you will find more than two hundred types of water plants that lend a brilliance of color among the stone and water displays. An arbor looks over the lake and allows for a rest while watching the wind lapping the waves.
Crossing the wooden bridge, trimmed in turquoise, to the area where kids can truly interact with the Jurassic Gardens
exhibit. Digging in the I Dig Dinos Sandbox
or having their own Fossil Dig
is sure to make the walk worth it.
More than 2,000 food plant varieties can be found in the newest addition to Powell Gardens. The Heartland Harvest Garden
uses several destinations for its inspiration, including Tuscany vineyards. The observation silo provides a vast view of the garden.
You do not have to be an expert in flowers to enjoy a leisurely walk through the wildflowers and carefully planned gardens that make it nearly impossible not to slow down and enjoy being in the outdoors. The Jurassic Gardens
is a complimentary exhibit that adds to the overall experience of Powell Gardens.
1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50
Kingsville, MO 64061 firstname.lastname@example.org
Just north of Cottonwood Falls I came across the Tallgrass Prairie Natural Preserve. The first thing I noticed was the sizable barn that was built from locally quarried limestone. This was the first place that had not been recently burned off so the prairie grass was still pristine. The gusts of wind turned the fields of golden prairie grass into an ocean of waves climbing and descending the rolling hills of the historic site.
The main house and nearly all of the outbuildings were constructed from limestone and included an oddly designed chicken coop, ice house, carriage house, curing room, and an outhouse. I noticed that there were similarities with the architecture of the Courthouse in Cottonwood with the design and construction of the ranch house. Even by today’s standards this house would be an impressive dwelling to live in.
The smell of old wood, common in all old houses, filled the air inside the house. The staircase and newel post were ornate heavy wood, much like I have seen in other houses of the time period and class. The upper levels were closed off but you could see into the North & South Parlors, which is furnished with furniture from the 1880s.
The day was starting to get away from me at this point so I passed on walking the trail and focused on getting some photos of the house and barn. With that finished I was back on the north bound highway towards Council Grove and then the lengthy drive home.
Cottonwood Falls is a small town that finds its home in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I had not planned on stopping in Cottonwood; however, upon entering the town, there was a man made waterfall on the Cottonwood River that caught my eye. Next to the waterfall was a bridge that had been restored into a footbridge. A large tree was hanging from the concrete wall that creates the falls and another lay next to the bridge, signs of flooding that had possibly recently taken place. The American flag waved and snapped in the wind. It was hard to tell the difference between the roar of the waterfall and the thundering of the gusty wind.
For lunch I stopped at Swope Park and ate the p, b, & j sandwich and chips I had made that morning. While checking my photography equipment in the back of the Jeep, I looked further down the park road. I swear I saw a tank sitting down there but could not be sure. As mentioned in the previous article, there was a treasure at the end of this road. Mounted high on metal poles, silhouetted in the sunlight, was a UH-1 Huey. The tank sat on the other end of the veteran’s memorial, shaded by trees that stood in respect around the memories of this place.
It was hard to miss the prominent Chase County Courthouse standing tall at the end of Broadway Street. Built in 1873, it is the oldest courthouse in Kansas that is still in use. The design, French Renaissance, used locally quarried limestone. The red roof of the courthouse is well complimented as it reaches into the deep blue morning sky.
Finding my way back to the highway that heads north onto the Flint Hills Scenic Byway continues the Flint Hills day trip.