Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
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Feed Store Cafe - Troy, Kansas
Saturday - May 1, 2021: I visited the Overland Park Farmers Market in old downtown Overland Park, Kansas. For over 35 years the market was based at the Farmers Market pavilion next to the clock tower in the heart of the downtown, but to provide more space and allow social distancing, it has moved to the parking lots at the Matt Ross Community Center, about 1,000' south of the old pavilion.

The market is a fun place to purchase produce, live plants, homemade preserves and fine baked goods. Many of the vendors come from Missouri and some come from farther away.

The "Taco Trail," group of over 50 Mexican restaurants in Kansas City, Kansas has been getting a lot of hype and we are going to visit some of the more popular ones over the next few months. Today we started with Tacos El Güero.

The small restaurant has 5 tables and a short counter along the wall. You order at the cash register, making selections from a menu board without prices, mounted on the wall. Linda had a pollo (chicken) quesadillas and I tried several tacos - asada (steak), lengua (beef tongue), chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage) and birria de res (beef stew). All were good. My favorite was the chorizo, though I like the chorizo tacos at Anita's Cuisine in nearby Merriam, Kansas.

The quesadillas was $5.99, tacos were $1.85 each and bottled water was $1.

 

Overland Park Farmers Market - Overland Park, Kansas Overland Park Farmers Market
 
 

Tacos El Guero - Kansas City, Kansas Tacos El Güero

 
Thursday - May 6, 2021: Today is the first day of the Big Kansas Road Trip which is being held in Brown, Doniphan and Nemaha counties. Driving north from Johnson County, the shortest route is actually in Missouri, driving east of the Missouri River, through Weston and crossing back into Kansas at Atchison. 

After taking a few quick photos of of the Amelia Earhart Bridge and adjacent Atchison Swing Bridge, we headed north along the river and were surprised to spot a tug headed down river pushing two barges. I spend time around the river several times a year and rarely see this type of river traffic in Kansas.

Crossing into Doniphan County, our first stop was at St. John the Baptist Oratory, in the small unincorporated community of Doniphan, Kansas. The former Catholic Church was built in 1867. It is called an oratory because it is a small chapel and is no longer used for regular mass. Friends of St. John's Oratory were formed a few years ago to preserve the church, which was in significant disrepair. So far they have replaced the roof and ceiling and performed other extensive repairs.

We continued north to Troy, Kansas to have an early lunch at Feed Store Cafe. The rustic restaurant is across from the Doniphan County Courthouse on the courthouse square. Wishing to review the restaurant, we ordered much more than we could eat, starting with fried chicken gizzards. The batter had little seasoning and they were greasy. 

We also had a cheeseburger and pork tenderloin sandwich. The tenderloin was hand breaded and more than twice the size of the bun. The hand cut French fries were the best part of the meal to that point, but the highlight was house made peach pie. I'm not even a particular peach pie fan, but it was outstanding with a particularly yummy crust. The service was friendly.

We then photographed the art and memorials on the the courthouse grounds. The best known piece is "Tall Oak," a 27' hand carved sculpture of a Native American by artist Peter Toth.

The 1856 Nelson Rodgers House is across the street, north of the courthouse and is the oldest surviving building in town. There is a small museum in a building behind the house, but the exhibits had been pushed and piled up in front of the walls, opening a larger meeting space and little of the exhibits could be seen. The Nelson Rodgers House is unfurnished and more restoration is needed.

On the way out of town, we photographed and walked across the Waddell "A" Truss Bridge, a 120 year old bridge which was moved to town in 2015 and reduced in width to a 6' wide foot bridge from its original 20' width.

We made a couple of brief stops in Everest, Kansas, touring the beautiful 1910 Everest Christian Church and striking United Methodist Church of Everest.

Our day was planned to get us to Horton, Kansas in time for a 2PM Horton Power Plant tour and we arrived as it was beginning. Originally the plant provided the power for Horton and a couple of nearby communities, but as other power became available, it was cheaper to buy electricity and the plant was only operated during peak summer usage when there were surcharges and electricity became more expensive.

Today the plant is only operated when other electricity is unavailable, coming online in about 15 minutes. One of the claims to fame is that some of the generators were originally somehow used for the Apollo Missions.

After visiting a few more attractions in Horton, we drove north to Hiawatha, Kansas where we walked the grounds of the Brown County Historical Society AG Museum, toured the downtown, photographed the Civil War Cannon & Veterans Memorial at Hiawatha Cemetery, and revisited the Davis Memorial & photographed other graves at Mount Hope Cemetery.

We had heard that seating was limited at The Bread Bowl in Hiawatha, so we were waiting when they opened at 5 PM. Although there were several takeout orders, the only other people dinning in were two other couples who were also doing the Big Kansas Road Trip. In addition to baked goods and prepared meals to go, there is a cooler with take and bake dishes.

Linda had fried catfish, baked potato and fruit, while I had the a Smoky Blackberry Chicken sandwich (chicken on birdseed bread with smoked gouda, bacon, onion and blackberry cream cheese sauce) and hash brown casserole. The servings were very generous and quite good. Once again, the pie was the star of the meal, this time it was peanut butter. 

We spent the night at Best Western Plus Hiawatha Hotel, which was our base for the weekend.

 

Missouri River tug and barges - Atchison, Kansas tug & barges
 

St. John the Baptist Oratory - Doniphan, Kansas St. John the Baptist

Feed Store Cafe - Troy, Kansas Feed Store Cafe
 
 
 
 

Nelson Rodgers House - Troy, Kansas Nelson Rodgers House

Everest Christian Church - Everest, Kansas Everest Christian Church

Horton Power Plant - Horton, Kansas Horton Power Plant
 
 

Davis Memorial - Hiawatha, Kansas Davis Memorial
 

The Bread Bowl - Hiawatha, Kansas The Bread Bowl

Friday - May 7, 2021: We continue the Big Kansas Road Trip with a day in Nemaha County, starting in Baileyville, Kansas. As we pulled up to Koch's Service Station Museum, we first noticed the old Philips 66 station across the street, where there is a 1930s gasoline pump and where a vehicle was being fueled from a 1960s gasoline pump. A we pulled up by what looked like a 100 year old Conoco Station, the man who had been fueling the vehicle came across the street to greet us.

Greg Koch explained that he had built the building, which looks like a classic old service station, in the past year, to display his collection of antique gas station materials. He can of a tour and also showed us his 3 space RV park up the street.

The rest of the morning was spent in Seneca, Kansas. Our first stop was at the Pony Express Museum, which occupies a handsome building which is kitty corner from the former hotel which had been the actual Pony Express Stop. The docent was showing another couple around the museum, so we toured it on our own.  We found the information about the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay, which went through Seneca, to be particularly interesting. During this portion of the relay, the torch wa carried on horseback.

We walked up and down the street, photographing other historic buildings and went in the Seneca Free Library, portion of which are in a 1867 Old Stone Universalist Church.

Next stop was the Nemaha County Museum, where a docent showed us the portion of the museum which occupies the 1879 two story brick building which was the jail and Sheriff's home. The museum occupies several buildings and we interrupted our tour to go to lunch at the Willows Restaurant & Bar before their noon lunch.

The Willows occupies the clubhouse at Spring Creek Golf Course. The menu is relatively short, but there is a very nice $11.99 lunch buffet. I enjoyed the French onion soup and meat loaf, but we both loved the fried chicken. Even served from the buffet, it is some of the best fried chicken we have had. The manager was very friendly and stopped by our table for a long chat.

Back at the Nemaha County Museum we looked at the exhibits in two additional buildings and then asked about scheduling a tour of the hand dug well on the west side of Seneca. A couple of minutes later, we were told that there would be someone at the well in about 15 minutes, so we interrupted the tour again, to drive to the well.

The large 1895 well is no longer in use, but was rather interesting. It is one of two Kansas wells which vie for billing as the 2nd largest hand dug well in Kansas. The Seneca well is 34' wide & 65' deep, and the one in Westmoreland is 29' wide & 38' deep. Both wells also claim to be the 2nd largest hand dug well in the World (after the one in Greensburg, Kansas), but there is no governing body to certify something like that.

We returned again to the Nemaha County Museum and walked a block to the Military Museum/Temple of Honor in the former Masonic Temple. The Temple has museum type exhibits, but is more a series of individual tributes to the military service of various Nemaha County veterans.

Our final stop in Seneca was the Historic Fire Truck and Museum, but it was not open.

It wa a short drive out of town to St. Mary's Catholic Church in St. Benedict, Kansas. the church is 162' by 60' and was dedicated November 14, 1894. We joined a brief tour, which had just started and learned much of the history of the very ornate church. The highlight of the tour was the playing of a portion of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" on the large pipe organ. 

We also visited the grotto on the grounds at the rear of the church. A lady was planting flowers at the church, but graciously jumped up and pulled her things out of the way when she saw that we were photographing the grotto.

Or next stop was Bern Meat Plant in Bern, Kansas, a community we had never visited before. The meat market has been in operation since 1961. We purchased brats, beef sticks and jerky. This was the first place we visited this trip when they did not display Big Kansas Road Trip signs. The woman who sold the meat asked what the Road Trip was after seeing our T-shirts. (May 18 update - one of the packages of beef sticks developed mold before we opened the package.)

We continued to Sabetha. Kansas where we photographed art in the post office, a paved bridge which wa turned into a covered bridge and the classic retro Sabetha sign. With more time on our hands, we drove south to Fairview, Kansas to see an antique truck deploy at Long Haul Truck Wash. There are some display of transportation memorabilia inside.

Back in Sabetha, we still had some time on our hands and purchased some spices at Hearthside Country Store on the north side of town.

We had supper at Brick Street Furniture Co. + Wine Lounge. The front of the building sells furniture and decor, while that back is a very nice restaurant. We were seated at the end of a long table which mostly filled up by the end of our meal. 

We had a $16.95 half surf & turf of a petite grilled beef tender topped with black garlic steak butter & 3 sautéed shrimp on a bed of spinach, and the $29,95 16 ounce ribeye with black garlic steak butter served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes & asparagus. Though I felt that the steak had a little too much char taste, Linda was very happy with her surf & turf. The asparagus was particularly good, even the thickest end of the stalks.

We are have had several great desserts during this trip and the $6 bombolini did not let us down. I had never had the Italian filled doughnuts before and selected one with salted caramel filling. I need to have a bombolini again, maybe the strawberry or Key lime next time.

Our evening ended with the Peterson Farm Brothers appearance at Sgt. Major Wilbur Bestwick Softball Field in Sabetha. We arrived early and saved a good spot for ourselves and friends who couldn't get there until just before the concert. The Peterson Brothers from Asaria, Kansas are famous for their Youtube videos which parody popular songs with a farm themes. There were actually just the two oldest Peterson brothers, Greg and Nathan, since their younger brother had to stay at the farm and work.

Greg made much of the presentation, explaining how their world famous videos cam to happen and he & Nathan sang along with recordings of their videos. The presentation was very interesting, though the songs lose some of their impact without the clever videos.

 

Koch's Service Station - Baileyville, Kansas
Greg Koch
 
 
 
 
 

Pony Express Museum - Seneca, Kansas Pony Express Museum

Nemaha County Museum - Seneca, Kansas Nemaha County Museum

Willows Restaurant and Bar - Seneca, Kansas Willows
 
 

Seneca Hand Dug Well Seneca Hand Dug Well
 
 
 
 

St. Mary's Catholic Church - St. Benedict, Kansas St. Mary's Catholic Church
 

Bern Meat Plant - Bern, Kansas Bern Meat Plant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brick Street Furniture Co. + Wine Lounge - Sabatha, Kansas Brick Street Furniture Co. + Wine Lounge
 
 
 
 
 
 

Peterson Farm Brothers - Sabetha, Kansas Peterson Farm Brothers

Saturday - May 8, 2021: Our first stop of the day was the Brown County Historical Museum in Hiawatha, Kansas. The museum occupies the front and basement of the 1920 Memorial Auditorium, which is quite an impressive old building. The bulk of the exhibits are in the large basement, where three aisles are lined with recreations of many shops, businesses and a church and rooms in homes.

On our way driving through Seneca, Kansas we noticed the Veterans Memorial Park of Nemaha County while passing on US36 near K63. The memorial plaza is lined on the north side by a 340' wall with places for plaques for 3,000 veterans and the wall is almost completely full. There is a separate "We Gave All Wall" with 52 plaques for those who were missing or killed in action.

In Corning, Kansas, our first stop was the City Hall, which was originally a gymnasium built by the WPA in 1938. We continued to the Corning Museum in Corning City Park. The museum's exhibits lines the single room in a stone building which appears to have once been a park museum. The nice lady who greeted us was surprised to have visitors who were not from Corning or related to someone in Corning.  The displays consisted of photos, trophies, and a few old newspapers and it took only a few minutes to see everything of interest to someone without ties to the community.

We continued to the east side of Wetmore, Kansas to visit Rock and Critter Garden a grassroots arts environment created by retired farmer and welder Paul Fritz. Normally it is limited to viewing from the road, but we were permitted to walk around the metal critters, which are along about 100 yards of Y Road. The critters include several huge ants on a ant hill, a crocodile, spiders and grasshoppers. There are also skeletal moose, elephant, rhinoceros, dinosaurs, and a giraffe. The critters are set in a garden with many large decorative rocks. There are a couple of metal human figures by the driveway.

The Shoe Tree is several miles away on the northwest side of Wetmore. There were several handmade BKRT signs leading to the large old tree at the corner of 80th Road and V Road. The trunk of the tree is covered with shoes up to about 15 feet. More shoes have been thrown up in the branches. There is a mailbox with a guest registry, hammer and nails. John Kissel, who started the tree had left an ice chest full of bottled water for visitors along with directions to the closest public restroom, with different directions depending on the roads being wet or dry.

While we were photographing the tree, a family with two children pulled up in a truck and brought several shoes to add to the tree.

We planned to have lunch at the Blue Ribbon Diner in Horton, Kansas which the Big Kansas Road Trip website said would be open today, but it was closed. Deciding on another place on the fly and not having much time, we had lunch at OK Corral. We had a pork tenderloin, chili dog, fried shrimp, French fries and Pappy fries. Our favorite items was the Pappy fries, which are house made potato chips.

We arrived at Werner Wagon Works in Horton in time for the 2PM tour. Don & Connie Werner took us the shops where Don restores, repairs and builds wagons, telling us how he got into horse drawn wagon making and detailing the extensive restoration they have done, as well as showing wagons which are in the process of construction and the particularly detailed and interesting wagon wheel manufacturing. We were met for the tour by a couple from our church and also ran into Joe Hirsch of Sunflower State Tours.

The balance of the afternoon was spent in and around Everest, Kansas. We started with Everest Christian Church (where we were treated to nice homemade cookies) and them toured the nearby Everest Historical Museum, which fills the two stories of a handsome old school building. The basement has an interesting display from a 1964 time capsule.

We went on to photograph St. Mary's Catholic Church, several miles east of Everest, but the building was locked up. On the way back to town, we also stopped by Miller Cemetery.

Our friends joined us for supper at Country Cabin, a few miles north west of Hiawatha, Kansas. The restaurant was crowded, but we had a nice view overlooking the small lake. We enjoyed rib eye, chicken fried steak, chef salad, bourbon glazed salad and smoked chicken, wild rice & mushroom soup. My favorite items were their onion rings and the American fried potatoes.

 

Brown County Historical Museum - Hiawatha, Kansas Brown County Historical Museum
 
 
 

Corning Museum - Corning, Kansas Corning Museum

Rock and Critter Garden Rock & Critter Garden
 

Shoe Tree - Wetmore, Kansas Adding shoes to the Shoe Tree

Ok Corral - Horton, Kansas Ok Corral

Werner Wagon Works - Horton, Kansas Don & Connie Werner

Everest Historical Museum - Everest, Kansas Everest Historical Museum

Country Cabin - Hiawatha, Kansas Country Cabin

 
Sunday - May 9, 2021: Today began with the Kansas Explorers Club annual meeting, which wa scheduled for 10AM at the city park in Powhattan, Kansas, but it wa a wet morning and the meeting was moved into the Legion Hall across the street. The highlight of the meeting was the announcement of the three counties which will host the 2021 Big Kansas Road Trip. As predicted, it will be in the southeast corner of Kansas. It will be Mother's Day weekend in Bourbon, Cherokee and Crawford Counties.

We had to leave a soon as the meeting ended, to be in Goff, Kansas at 11:30AM for a tour of Skeezix's Toy Museum. Gerald Swart showed us around the over 2,000 toy tractors, trucks and cars which his brother, Melvin Swart collected. After Melvin's death in 2004, his brother Gerald built a 960 square foot building to display the collection and keep it together.

The metal cage that was the Old Goff Jail is displayed outside and we were told that there is also an original bridge from "Great White Way," out of sight on the farm. The Great White Way was a 1914 highway route which went 1,161 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We returned to Wetmore to have lunch at Dinner Bell Cafe. Kansas Explorer and photographer Larry Hornbaker pulled up a we were finding a table and we got to catch up with him during the meal. I don't know what people thought as we were both photographing our meal. I had a classic cheese burger with crinkle cut fries and Linda had fried chicken with mashed potatoes and green bean. We split a slice of peach pie. The food wa fine, but I wouldn't make a point of driving to Wetmore just to eat there again.

 

Kansas Explorer Club annual meeting - Powhattan Legion Hall Kansas Explorers Meeting
 

Skeezix's Toy Museum - Goff, Kansas Skeezix's Toy Museum
 

Larry Hornbaker at the Dinner Bell Cafe Larry Hornbaker

Monday - May 10, 2021: I drove to downtown Overland Park Kansas to photograph the iconic UMB stagecoach sculpture. UMB has applied for permission from Overland Park to remake their bank location at 80th and Metcalf and remove this sculpture. We poted the photo to our Facebook page with a comment about the growing number of people saying that it should be preserved somewhere like Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead. The post generated many comments that it either should not be removed or that it should remain in Overland Park. UMB stagecoach sculpture - Overland Park, Kansas UMB stagecoach sculpture
Wednesday - May 12, 2021: I had lunch at Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, Kansas. The small walk up restaurant was catipulted to national attention in 2019 after the TV show Queer Eye gave them a makeover. The lines were extremely long for over a year and meat would start running out about noon, but busines has dropped back some this year. I had the $6.50 Wednesday 3 wings & side special and a sausage. I like the flavor of the smoked chicken a lot, though the meat is a little tough.

 

Jones Bar-B-Q - Kansas City, Kansas Jones Bar-B-Q
Thursday - May 13, 2021: I got carry out from Zarda Bar-B-Q in Lenexa, Kansas for lunch today, a half chicken and one of their specialty sandwiches, the hog Wild with ham, pulled pork, melted provolone cheese and two strips of bacon on a toasted Roma bun. The bacon really made the sandwich! The Hog Wild comes ala cart for $8.99 or  for $13.49 ot includes a side and drink.

We had Kansas City BBQ again at supper, hosting a small group at Jack Stack in Overland Park, Kansas. We started with their popular onion rings. The large rings come stacked on a rod, 3 rings for $8.50, 6 rings for $11.50 or 9 for $13.50. The texture is good and some of our part can't imagine eating at Jack Stack without having them, but some spice in the batter leaves them so-so to me. Several of us had ribs and/or sausage, while two of us went the $31 single Crown Prime Beef Rib. THe marbled short rib is a lovely piece of meat.

 

Zarda Bar-B-Q - Lenexa, Kansas Zarda Bar-B-Q

Jack Stack - Overland Park, Kansas Crown Beef Rib

Friday - May 14, 2021: I stayed with the Kansas City BBQ theme and had lunch at Joe's Kansas City Restaurant in Olathe. I used to work in Olathe and dined there regularly, but it has been most of a year since I last dined here. Although I recommend their Z-Man Sandwich (smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, topped with two crispy onion rings, on a toasted Kaiser roll) as one of the best specialty BBQ sandwiches in the city, it had been many years since I had one and I decided to go with it today. It comes in jumbo for $11.49 or regular (shown at right with seasoned fries) for $9.39. I should have remembered to order the fries without seasoning, which I think are much better.

It really is an excellent sandwich, but my favorite sandwich from Joe's is the Corned Beef Burnt Ends Reuben which they serve only on a few days in March each year.

 

Joe's Kansas City Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Z-Man Sandwich plus seasoned fries.
Wednesday - May 19, 2021: We got carry out from Pizza Man in Lenexa, Kansas, Although I enjoy their pizza several times a year, I decided it was time to try some of their sandwiches again. It had many years since I had their Polish sausage with sauerkraut and 12 years since I had their Chicago Dog. Both were much as I remembered, good, but not stand out like pizza or Italian steak sandwich which Pizza Man makes.

 

Pizza Man - Lenexa, Kansas Chicago dog & Polish sausage
Friday - May 28, 2021: I added a new page devoted to Skeezix's Toy Museum in Goff, Kansas.

 

 
Saturday - May 29, 2021: We had lunch at Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements in Kansas City, Missouri. We have reviewed it for our Kansas City BBQ Restaurant Guide, but it has been nearly 2 years since the last time we ate at Char Bar. 

We had the $19 3 wings & 3 ribs with beans, and the $10 Triple Crown (Pulled pork, smoked ham. smoked bacon, fontina, caramelized onion. pickles and mayo on sourdough bread) plus a $4 small order of fries. KC has a growing number of specialty BBQ sandwiches and this one is a definite contender on taste. I would like there to be a little more meat on the sandwich. I would have it again.

 

Char Bar - Kansas City, Missouri Triple Crown
Sunday - May 30, 2021: I added a new page devoted to St. John the Baptist Oratory in Doniphan, Kansas.

 

 
 
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