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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Crawford County Historical Museum - Cow Creek Cowboy Days
Sunday - May 1, 2022: We added a new page devoted to the free Wilcox Classical Museum at the University of Kansas. Although this museum is not as well known as the nearby Spencer Museum of Art and KU Natural History Museum, this is the oldest museum at KU and first opened in 1888.

 

Wilcox Classical Museum - Lawrence, Kansas Wilcox Classical Museum
 
Friday - May 6, 2022: We are off to southeast Kansas to participate in the Big Kansas Road Trip. This is the fourth year for the tourism event which celebrates rural culture. This year the three counties participating are Bourbon, Crawford and Cherokee.

Our first stop of the day was at Bronson Meat Locker in Bronson. The family owned butcher opened in 1966. We were warmly greeted and given a tour of the facility and a small baggy of samples of their meats. We learned that many of their customers come from about an hour and a half away.

We were the only customers when we arrived, but they quickly filled up. We purchased several kinds of brats and beef summer sausage. There were some good looking pies in a refrigerated case, but I didn't think they would hold up well in our travel.

It was time for lunch and I had decided to slip out of the BKRT counties, to have lunch at Chancy's Grill & Shake, 5 miles west in Moran. I haven been back to update their review since 2018.

We ordered a Classic BLT, Outback Cheeseburger and a loaf of house made curly fries topped in chili. Chancy's always does a good job on their fries and these were great, with or without the chili!

The Outback burger is a 1/3 pound cheeseburger with lettuce, A-1 Sauce, bacon and onion straws. I liked the generous amount of onion straws, which added nice flavor and texture to each bite. 

The BLT was rather ordinary.

Passing back through Bronson, we stopped to photograph one of the signs commemorating it being the site of the first known horseshoe tournament anywhere.

We stopped at the Ft. Scott Chamber Info Center to pick up a guide to the Big Kansas Road Trip. On the way into town, we happened across an old bridge which we hadn't see before. The concrete through arch bridge carries Crawford Street over Mill Creek. On Bridge Hunter I have since learned that it was built in 1927 and was closed to traffic in 2011. It is still open to pedestrians.

We drove on to Black Dogs Farm. The 1 PM tour was already in progress, but we joined that tour and enjoyed learning the story of Bryan and Barbara's adventure in farming in retirement. It made me think a little of book, "Under the Tuscan Sun." We enjoyed the sheep shearing demonstration and purchased a hand crafted Christmas gift.

While mapping Black Dogs Farm, I had spotted a listing of an "Old Iron Bridge" and we stopped to photograph it on our way to the next stop at Cato Schoolhouse. The one room schoolhouse was built in 1869. The school and the 1915 Cato Christian Church appear to be about all the remains of the ghost town which had only 112 residents at its height. 

There were many representatives of the Cato Historical Preservation Association. They were delighted to talk to visitors and also gave out cookies and bottled water. The chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies were both quite good!

We hurried to Pittsburg State University, because the campus greenhouse was open to the public, but only until 4 PM. The greenhouse is hard to find and harder to drive through and we were almost too late, but the employees in greenhouse were happy to talk to us and let us take as long as we wanted. The banana trees which are set out around the campus during the summer were still inside and one od them even had bananas. We learned that the Foxtail Ferns from South Africa are their most popular plants and are in high demand to be at campus events and receptions.

With time on our hands before supper, we stopped and shopped at ArtForms Co-op Art Gallery, Books & Burrow and Simon Market, all in Pittsburg. Books & Burrow and Simon Market were offering a 10% discount to participants in the Big Kansas Road Trip and we made purchases at both.

Simon Market is a meat market and we got some Pizza Bratwurst, bacon wrapped chicken and jalapeno pimento cheese spread. the cheese spread is the only one I have tried as of this writing and it is quite good.

We had an early supper at The Pitt, a college bar with pretty good food at reasonable prices. The $9.99 grilled chicken sandwich was just a chicken sandwich, but the house made onion straws which came with it were quite good. The $7.99 chili cheese dog (ordered without cheese) was better. It came with onions and jalapeno slices. A side came with it and I had some excellent hand cut fries.

We checked into our motel and took a break before going out to the Crawford County Historical Museum, which was hosting Cow Creek Cowboy Days. Most of the events were scheduled for Saturday, but we enjoyed this evening's Crawford County Historical Museum.

 


 
 

Bronson Meat Locker - Bronson, Kansas Bronson Meat Locker
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chancy's Grill & Shake - Moran, Kansas Outback Cheeseburger
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Old Iron Bridge - Burbon County, Kansas Old Iron Bridge
 
 

Pittsburg State University Greenhouse Foxtail Ferns
 
 
 

The Pitt - Pittsburg, Kansas Chili dog & chicken sandwich

Cow Creek Cowboy Days - Crawford County Historical Museum Cowboy Campfire

Saturday - May 7, 2022: We are off to Baxter Springs, Kansas to be there for the Cowtown Parade in Baxter Springs at 9:30 AM. We found a good spot for our lawn chairs near the end of the route. It was a nice parade, though there weren't very many people watching the parade along the stretch where we were. The parade took about 12 minutes to pass.

We headed back out of town on the way to Galena at the other end of Route 66, making an detour in an attempt to photograph the Brush Creek Bridge, better known as the Rainbow Bridge. We had heard that the bridge was inaccessible due to high water and wanted to get some photographs, but the creek was so high that we couldn't get close enough to even see the bridge.

Curious what the Spring River was like, when we got to Riverton, we turned south to the Empire Dam Falls. There was so much water going over the dam that it was almost invisible, with only a very short drop. The huge trees which were trapped at the dam last year had all floated away.

We had a brief stop at Cars on the Route. It was the first time is was open when we were in town in several years. We had a nice chat with Melba Rigg ("Melba the Mouth") who was one of the four women who first restored the old Kan-O-Te Station and whom I first met in 2007. Melba said that the owner was having a hard time hiring people to get the attraction open.

We went on to the Missouri line to photograph the new border installation of a Yellow Brick State Line and Route 66 markers on the road which was just installed in February. The bricks looked old already. The bricks on the south side of the road were dark and faded, as if most of the traffic crosses the line from Kansas and then turns off the road to take pictures and returns to Kansas without driving on the westbound part.

Coming back through Galena, we paid another visit to the 1939 Texaco Station at Gearhead Curios. Aaron and Kelly Perry have been restoring it for several years. Aaron has now retired and they live nearby in Columbus, Kansas. We met Kelly last year, but this was the first time that we got to meet Aaron. They still have much that they want to do, with one of the next projects being functioning rest rooms.

We had an early lunch at Sweet Creek Diner & Bakery in Galena. With over half of their menu being breakfasts, I thought I should try one and got the "Meat Lovin' Skillet (ham, bacon, and sausage over hash browns, topped with 2 eggs and cheddar cheese and with the choice of a pancake, toast or biscuit with gravy on the side). It was a lot of food for $8.99. It was a good pancake and I enjoyed the eggs and meat, but can't say that I was a fan of the hash browns. I think that I should have asked for some hot sauce.

The only pie remaining was chocolate and the slice we shared was just as good as we had last year. When we were leaving, we found out there were just two slices remaining and we also got one to take to our friend WenDee Rowe. who we would see later in the day.

We returned to Baxter Springs, to photograph the historic Johnston Public Library, but couldn't get very good photos because the various vendors for Cowtown Days were on the library grounds.

We went on to Columbus to visit Maple UnCommon Guest House & Gallery. Laura Lowry-Greene showed us around her combination art gallery and B&B. The rooms we looked at looked quite comfortable. There are seven guest rooms.

Next up was a stop at the Columbus Museum & Genealogy Library. It had been 12 years since my last visit to the library and its review will benefit from the fresh photographs.

We also made brief visits to the Columbus Made and Mercantile and the T.J. Losey Memorial at City Cemetery.

At 4 PM we attended "The Stump" at City Park. It was the first time we have seen Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe this year and it was fun getting quickly caught up and passing along the piece of pie to Wendee. When it was time to do the trivia contest. Marci instructed me to count to three before answering (since I have won prizes before). Linda decided it was fair for her to count to 1 and a half and answer. I only answered one of the questions. Linda answered 4 and won a prize package of Baxter Springs related gifts.

We head north, stopping briefly to photograph Soffietti-Boccia Grocery Store in West Mineral and St. Bridget Church and Scammon. There were several other people doing the BKRT at the church. The 1907 church has lovely stained glass windows.

After a taking a break and making a Facebook post from our motel, we met friends from Lenexa for supper at Jim's Steakhouse in Pittsburg, which we had just recently learned had reopened under new owners last year. The Steakhouse had previously been in operation for over 80 years and was one which we had enjoyed.

We had reservations and were quickly seated. Our server was a bit slow realizing we were there, but we had menus and were also enjoying getting caught up with friends who were also doing the Big Kansas Road Trip. The menu looked much like I remember from previous visits and I ordered a small order of onion rings as an appetizer for the table. As in the past, the $5.95 order of house made onion rings was good and more than enough for the four of us. They were quite salty, possibly too salty for some people.

Our entrees ended coming out about and hour after we were first seated, but we were enjoying the company and are more lenient to slow service in these days of employee shortages. The food was very good, though also rather salty. My $32 14 ounce ribeye was tender and had excellent flavor. It came with great fresh cut fries and a $2 side of grilled onions. After the salad and onion rings, half of the steak and fries made a good meal and I has a second meal to take along for another day.

Linda's $32.99 8 ounce filet with baked was properly cooked well done as ordered, something that can be difficult to get. 

We sat and talked after dinner. By that time they were not full and were patient with our taking our tume.

 

Cowtown Parade - Baxter Springs, Kansas Cowtown Parade
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yellow Brick State Line and Route 66 in Galena Yellow Brick State Line
 

Gearhead Curios - Galena, Kansas Aaron & Kelly Perry
 

Sweet Creek Diner and Bakery - Galena, Kansas Meat Lovin' Skillet
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Stump during the Big Kansas Road Trip Marci Penner asking southeast Kansas trivia questions on The Stump
 

Kim's Steakhouse Pittsburg, Kansas Ribeye & baked Potato
 
 

 

Sunday - May 8, 2022: We had a lazy start today, beginning with the annual Kansas Explorer's Meeting in Powhattan City Park in Franklin, Kansas. It was the first gathering of the Explorer's since "The Happening" in 2010. The highlight of the annual meeting is the announcement of the next year's Big Kansas Road Trip. BKRT 2023 will be May 4-7 in Jewell, Republic, and Smith Counties.

With today being Mother's Day, we hurried to get an early lunch while we could still get into a restaurant. We went to Nu Grille Cafe in Fort Scott, Kansas and snag one of the last vacant tables. I was quite tempted by broasted chicken, but finally decided on another chili dog, which was quite good. Linda's ham steak with scalloped potatoes was more average. 

As always, the food was a tremendous value. My chili dog with fresh cut fries was $6.08. The grilled ham with corn, potatoes, roll and a beverage was a daily special at $7.99.

Before leaving Fort Scott we toured Lavender Patch Farm and First Presbyterian Church. The sanctuary of the church could seat 1,000 people when the church was built in 1924. The most impressive part of the handsome building was the enormous pipe organ. The outside of the building has a small gargoyle, kind of hidden on the northwest corner.

 

Kansas Explorer's Meeting - Franklin, Kansas Kansas Explorer's Meeting
 
 
 

First Presbyterian Church - Fort Scott, Kansas First Presbyterian Church

 
Thursday - May 12, 2022: We first tried to dine at the new Scimeca's Ristorante in Shawnee, Kansas, last month, but due to staff shortages, they were not open for lunch. They are still closed for week day lunches, but we made it there this evening, having Cappellini With Shrimp ($17), Spicy Italian Wings ($15), and Cannoli ($7).

The Cappellini, which is described as angel hair pasta tossed with shrimp, garlic, spinach and tomato in olive oil, was our favorite dish, but not a standout. I had heard the Spucy Italian Wings mentioned in an online review and had pictured grilled or fried crispy wings with spices and a lot of flavor. They weren't described that way in the nenu, but I missed that and was let down when they turned out to be soft, apparently baked wings covered in a tomato sauce and in my opinion not spicy at all.

Our server was trying hard, but seemed inexperienced.
  
  


 
 

Scimeca's Ristorante - Shawnee, Kansas Spicy Italian Wings

Saturday - May 14, 2022: We visited a few southeast Kansas places which we did not have time to see during last week's Big Kansas Road Trip, starting with the 2009 Arma Centennial Mural in Arma, Kansas by Gary Lofts.

In Fulton, we photographed the High School & Grade School which are on the National Historic Registry and the Marsh Arch Bridge. north of town.
 
 

Arma Centennial Mural - Arma, Kansas Arma Centennial Mural
Thursday - May 19, 2022: We had supper at ABC Cafe in Overland Park, our favorite place for authentic Chinese food in Kansas. It had been over two years since we had been there. We tried 6 months ago, but it was closed for a few days at the time. Other than prices, the menu looks largely unchanged. 

We had Shrimp Stuffed Salt & Pepper Eggplant and two dim sum dishes: Shrimp Fried Wonton and Roast Pork. The eggplant looked great and tasted good, but the shrimp pieces were tiny and I really couldn't taste them. The tiny fried wontons were popular with one of us, but not the other.

 

ABC Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Shrimp Stuffed Salt & Pepper Eggplant
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