Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
Art Prints

Keiger Creekin the Gypsum Hills of Kansas
Monday - June 1, 2019: I photographed this new street mural in downtown Olathe, Kansas, which was drawn using Sharpie permanent markers over the past weekend. The bright linear design was created by Jay Shogo from Japan.

It is expected to wear away, and a new piece will be commissioned each year.

Also from Olathe, we learned that Sueko (Sam) & Hugh have officially sold the restaurant they have had since 1995! Sam's Tastee Treat in Olathe has new owners as of July 1, 2019! The old sign has been removed and the future of the restaurant has not been made public.

 

 
Thursday - July 4, 2019: We attended the annual Pancake Breakfast at Lenexa United Methodist Church, before the Community Days Parade in Lenexa, but the parade was canceled due to inclement weather, and we got out of town a little earlier then we expected for four days of exploration of southwest Kansas.

We stopped in Emporia, Kansas for lunch at Commercial Street Diner. They were very busy and we secured the last empty table. Although it doesn't look like a diner or keep the long hours I am used to them doing, it does have a huge, diner style menu.

The food came out a little slowly, but was quite good. I wanted to try a featured item and went with the $7.99 Barnyard Burger, which was topped with bacon, fried egg & choice of cheese. I'm not a big fan of egg on a hamburger, but it was still a good burger. Fresh cut fries were only 99 cents additional.

Linda had the $10.49 broiled ham steak, which came with the choice of two sides. The ham was very good as well. The grill marks almost looked like they were painted on.

We were pushing to get to the southwest corner of Kansas and, except for gas, didn't stop until we got to Mullinville, where we photographed some of the late M. T. Ligget's Kanza art. Our friend, Erica Nelson of World's Greatest Things is restoring some of the art, but was not working on Independence Day.

We photographed the sunflower themed city signs as we passed through Minneola, Kansas on our way to where Keiger Creek passes under US-160, 3 miles east of US-283. The red stone bluffs along the creek and along ravines a farther west are a striking contrast to the surrounding High Plains.

We drove back to Big Basin Prairie Preserve Wildlife Area, which the creek flows from, and took new photos to update its listing.

The next stop was the Mighty Samson of the Cimarron, near Liberal, Kansas, The large 1939 railroad bridge is very impressive. We tried to find some waterfalls a few miles away at Arkalon Lake Park, but there was apparently no water flowing through the area of the the falls. However, Linda took some good photos of a train crossing the Mighty Sampson a few miles away, which we used both on its page and for a Facebook post.

Although I had confirmed that The Hamburger Place (a popular food truck in Liberal, Kansas) would be open Independence Day evening, it was closed and we went with the fallback of Ruffino's Italian Restaurant, in the old railroad depot. The food was slightly above average and the service was slightly below. They were not very busy.

We spent the night at the Best Western Liberal Hotel & Suites in Liberal, which I highly recommend.

 


Commercial Street Diner - Emporia, Kansas Commercial Street Diner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

M. T. Ligget's Kanza art - Mullenville, Kansas Kanza art

Keiger Creek - Gypsum Hills, Kansas Keiger Creek

Mighty Samson of the Cimarron - Liberal, Kansas A train crossing the Mighty Samson of the Cimarron

Friday - July 5, 2019: Since I woke up early, I slipped out and drove back east to the Mighty Samson of the Cimarron for some morning photos. Its page had pretty limited photos in the past.

After I returned for breakfast at the hotel, we went to Baker Arts Center in Liberal, Kansas, which is in a former home in a quiet residential area. There are three galleries and they all contained a temporary Gathered Glass Exhibit of art glass created by local artists at Seward County Community College. This was the final day of the exhibit, which had run about 6 weeks. Many of the pieces were quite attractive and the prices were reasonable. I wished we were shopping for gifts!

Before leaving Liberal we stopped at the Mid-America Air Museum, to take new photos and see how the museum has changed since I last visited it in 2006. There are a many fascinating aircraft here. In my opinion, too many for the space they have. They are pressed very close to each other and I feel like the museum would be more effective with fewer aircraft more attractively displayed. 

One of the new features which looked intriguing at Mid-America Air Museum is "Curiosity" Robotics Academy, which has programs for grades K - 8.

We drove on to Elkhart, Kansas, the most southwest community in Kansas and the county seat for Morton County. We photographed the unusual (for Kansas) adobe city hall and several nearby features including the Olympic champions monument near city hall, which honors local olympians Thane Baker and Glenn Cunningham.

We had lunch at Big C's Cafe in Elkhart, where a a fun waitress served us fried catfish, a M&S burger and hand cut fries. The burger was 1/2 pound served on Texas toast with Swiss cheese & mushrooms. All was good and I would definitely eat here again, though nothing stood out.

We drove west on A Boulevard, which runs along the state line to Eight Mile Corner, to the Tripoint Marker which marks the junction of Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma. As we had heard, the 1903 windmill marker, which had stood next to the tripoint when we were last here in 2011, collapsed a few years ago in a storm. 

Back in Elkhart, we visited the Morton County Historical Society Museum. It is only open on weekdays so we had not had a chance to visit it before. My favorite part of the museum was the paintings of local scenes and history, that are around the top of the walls in the front room at the museum 

When we asked about plans to replace the marker at Eight Mile Corner, we were told there has been no discussion of doing that.

We were running a little ahead on our schedule, so we added a stop at the 1930s WPA arch bridge in rural Morton county, northwest of Richfield, Kansas. The impressive 5 arch bridge didn't look as impressive from the road itself, and we actually went a mile beyond it before seeing the we had driven too far. 

We drove back to Rolla, Kansas to photograph a mural and a cute sign that we had spotted on our way through town earlier in the day. The "Western Kansas Wind Gauge" can be found next to US-56

Continuing up US-56, we toured the Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton, Kansas and wandered around the rest of town as we killed time until 5PM when Jet Drive-In opened. Although it is called a drive-in, there is no outside service. You order at a counter and the food is brought out to your table. Cash only!

We tried the burgers, which were pretty good, along with onion rings and French fries, neither of which were fresh made.

As we drove north out of Hugoton it started raining and near the county line it became a downpour. We drove on to the Stanton County Museum in Johnson City, Kansas. Johnson City is the name that the first postmaster registered, but it appears that most people living here call it Johnson, Kansas and that is what we saw on some signs including county road signs.

It was now hours after the museum was scheduled to close, but the Director of the museum, Katie Herrick, had agreed to meet us. This museum was the smallest of the four we visited today, but I felt it had nicer displays and does a wonderful job of telling the history of the region. There are several buildings on the grounds which have been moved here, including a depot and a small grain elevator. Those other buildings aren't at their best right now, as they are full of items which had been stored or displayed in another 2 story building which was destroyed by a storm last year.

The main building is a handsome native stone structure which was built by the WPA in 1935. It adds to the character of the museum, while creating challenges for using the building as a museum.

After a pleasant 75 minute visit, we drove to Ulysses, Kansas to stay the night at Corporate East Hotel/

 


 

Baker Arts Center - Liberal, Kansas Baker Arts Center
 

Mid-America Air Museum - Liberal, Kansas Mid-America Air Museum
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eight Mile Corner - Elkhart, Kansas Eight Mile Corner

Morton County Historical Society Museum - Elkhart, Kansas Morton County Historical Museum

WPA Arch Bridge - Richfield, Kansas WPA Arch Bridge

Western Kansas Wind Gauge - Rolla, Kansas Western Kansas Wind Gauge
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stanton County Museum - Johnson City, Kansas Stanton County Museum

Saturday - July 6, 2019: Our first stop of the morning was at the Haskell County Historical Society & Museum on the county fairgrounds in Sublette, Kansas. It wasn't scheduled to open until this afternoon, but the curator, Darlene Groth, had agreed to meet us and let us photograph the museum for KansasTravel.org. The museum fills a large, two story building, plus three buildings which were moved to this site: The Johnson House, Santa Fe and Independent School, District #40.

One of the more unusual displays in the museum was a combined collection of framed arrowheads and art made from arrowheads.

After a pass through Sublette and a stop for photos in Copeland, we drove on to Dodger City, Kansas, to the Boot Hill Museum, a non-profit museum started in 1947, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the Old West, The museum is in the middle of a expansion construction project, but the work did not impact our experience.

While the museum is probably best known for gunfight recreations and evening can-can show, I enjoyed the exhibits in the 1947 Boot Hill Building and tucked into the building behind the old west "Front Street." We arrived a half hour before the gunfight and it was easy to fit in, but there are only 2 gunfights a day and visitors should time their visit to include this signature event.

Lunch was at Kate's in Dodge City. We arrived a little before 1PM. The small, windowless bar & grill had every table taken, but we had the stools at the bar to ourselves. Better yet, I had a chance to speak to the woman at the cash register and learn some of the history of Kate's, which I haven't found elsewhere online.

My favorite dish was the chili burger, which was recommended online by several people. I was a little surprised when it was served, not on a bun, but open faced, on two slices of white bread, one on top of the other.

It was great! In fact it is being added to our list of Best Kansas Burgers.

As busy as they were, it was 2PM when we left Kate's and too late to visit the Carnegie Center for the Art, so we drove about 9 miles southwest of Dodge to visit the 1904-1930 Amish Cemetery. Most of the burials were infants or children, often listed with the name of their father, but not their mother. A couple of graves are marked as "Unknown Infant  God's Child."

One grave is in a corner, far from the rest and oral history says that it is the grave of a woman who died while her party was passing through.

We returned to Dodge City to visit the Second Avenue Art Guild, which is a very nice art gallery. We had originally budgeted the rest of the day and evening to visit some other Dodge City attractions, but never heard back from our request to visit them, which had been filed earlier in the week with the Dodge City Convention & Visitors Bureau. With no other stops, we canceled our Dodge City hotel reservation and drove on to Wichita.

As we approached Wichita, Kansas, the rain came, first light and then torrential. It was so heavy that many  vehicles stopped at the side of the road. We pulled over a couple of times, but didn't feel safe parked at the side of the freeway with the poor visibility and moved on. We postponed visiting the attractions we were headed for and checked into a new motel, the Comfort Inn East, and chilled in the room for an hour.

It was still raining hard when we went out for supper at When Pigs Fly BBQ, but it let up before we got to the restaurant. Although it was just a few miles from where we were in the the tremendous downpour earlier, they had not had rain.

When Pigs Fly was on our radar because of the many votes they received in the USA Today vote for best BBQ in Kansas, which took place in May. When Linda asked the person at the counter what they recommended and the cashier learned we had never been there before, he had the kitchen prepare a small plate with bite size servings of brisket, turkey, two kinds of sausage, pulled pork, rib meat, baked beans and sauce. Really a nice thing for them to do!

We chose pork ribs, jalapeno cheddar sausage, baked beans and creamed corn. It was a very nice meal. I liked the beans, but really liked the creamed corn. Both meats were very good and I an glad we had sampled some in advance, because otherwise I would probably have ordered the hot links, which I didn't like as well.

Before returning to the hotel, we photographed several of the nice murals on or near Douglas Avenue. We also stopped by the world's largest mural, which was painted last year on a grain elevator on 20th Street. A train was stopped on the tracks, blocking access and obscuring the view of a third of the mural. We waited about a half hour, but the train never moved and we gave up.

 

Haskell County Historical Museum - Sublette, Kansas Haskell County Historical Museum

Boot Hill Museum - Dodge City, Kansas Boot Hill Museum gunfight
 
 
 

Kate's - Dodge City, Kansas chili burger & fresh cut fries at Kate's
 
 
 

Amish Cemetery - Dodge City, Kansas Amish Cemetery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

When Pigs Fly - Wichita, Kansas Samples at When Pigs Fly

 

 
Sunday - July 7, 2019: I slipped out early, to try again to photograph the world's largest mural on the Beachner grain elevator in Wichita, Kansas. The Horizontes Mural was painted last fall by the Colombian street artist GLeo. With the train gone, I was able to get closer to the elevator and take some photos which were just partially obscured by railroad cars and some low mounds. Getting good photos of the mural will require a drone or getting permission to go on the Beachner property.

Before leaving the area, I photographed a number of other murals and a pocket park, called "Rosa Park," which I have since found no information about.

Back at the Comfort Inn East it was time for breakfast and we took advantage of the hotel provided breakfast including an omelet station.

After checking out of the hotel, we went to Central Riverside Park to get additional photos of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit and the nearby art installation which has been dubbed Stonehenge Jr. There was a man with two small children at the Wildlife Exhibit and his little boy took Linda's hand and they went from cage to cage, looking at all of the birds and turtles together.

We had lunch at Stroud's Restaurant & Bar, which opened in 1993 in the Wichita Wine Barn. It has been listed on out Unique Kansas Restaurant Page for many years, but has not had a page of its own. That is something I will soon correct. This Stroud's was started by the same people who started the Stroud's in Kansas City, but ownership changed at all the locations, many years ago and there is no connection today. The ones in the Kansas City metropolitan area don't don't even acknowledge that this one exists.

We tried the family style pan fried chicken which all of the Stroud's restaurants are famous for, chicken gizzards and something unique to this Stroud's, KA-BOOM chicken wings. 

Well, I wanted to try the gizzards. Although I told her twice, the server brought livers by mistake and I didn't want to take the time for the preparation of another order. The chicken is prepared the same way as the KC restaurants and the mashed potatoes and gravy were similar. The chicken soup had only small bits of chicken, no bite size pieces. 

The wings were OK, spicy, but not something I would have again. However, that sauce was great for dipping the livers and I would be tempted to order chicken livers with KA-BOOM sauce sometime in the future.

We prefer the cinnamon rolls at this location to the ones in KC.

Sunday attractions were now open and we drove to the Wichita museum district. First to Exploration Place, a hands on science museum on the bank of the Arkansas River. I had not been here since 2008 and although the page we have devoted to Exploration Place has had the information updated several times, the photos were badly out of date. 

The temporary Ripley's Believe It or Not! exhibit was quite interesting, but my favorite part of the museum was largely unchanged, the 1500 square foot Kansas In Miniature, with more than 51 animations, 125 buildings and 200 period vehicles from Kansas in the 1950s.

Our return visit to Exploration Place was followed with a revisit of another museum, Old Cowtown Museum, which has about 40 buildings which have been relocated to create an 1870s frontier downtown. My last visit here had also been in 2008. That visit was in the fall and there were few events taking place, but this time was more interesting. We saw a Flamenco show, a can-can show put on by the Delano Dollies, and a much larger gunfight performance than we saw at the Boot Hill Museum yesterday.

Apparently the programs and their times are constantly changing, so it would be wise to call the museum in advance to find out what is happening the day you plan to visit, so you can schedule the time to coincide with what interests you.

We followed the museum visit with a quick stop at the Nu-Way Cafe to get a wonderful root beer frostie for the drive home. I love the house made root beer blended with ice cream at this this famous 89 years old. crumbly burger restaurant.

 

Horizontes Mural - Wichita, Kansas Horizontes Mural
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stroud's Restaurant - Wichita, Kansas KA-BOOM wings and chicken livers at Stroud's Restaurant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Exploration Place - Wichita, Kansas Kansas In Miniature
 
 
 

Old Cowtown Museum - Wichita, Kansas Old Cowtown gunfight

Wednesday - July 10 2019: We added new pages devoted to Keiger Creek.

 

 
Thursday - July 11, 2019: I had a second meal at Wild Frontier BBQ which opened in Olathe, Kansas four weeks ago. I had pulled pork, pulled chicken a coleslaw, repeating only the wonderful fresh cut French fries from the first visit. The smoked pulled pork and tangy slaw were both very good. The chicken was too dry.

Added a new review of Kate's in Dodge City, Kansas.

 

Wild Frontier BBQ - Olathe, Kansas
Wild Frontier BBQ
Saturday - July 13, 2019: We added new pages devoted to the 1873 Ellsworth County Jail in Ellsworth, Kansas and the Amish Cemetery near Dodge City.

 

 
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