The oldest building in Ellsworth, the limestone jail is a shell of its former self, but it still stands to tell the story of some of the wickedest lawbreakers in the Wild West. A small interpretive sign and iron cutout tells the history of the jail.
The oldest building in Ellsworth, the limestone jail is a shell of its former self, but it still stands to tell the story of some of the wickedest lawbreakers in the Wild West. A small interpretive sign and iron cutout tells the history of the jail.
It just might be the fanciest historic jailhouse in Kansas. Constructed in 1910, it held prisoners in the back area until 1981. The front section served as living quarters for the sheriff and his family. Six Ionic columns span the entrance of this three-story Classic Revival structure, which today is privately owned.
Mosaics of colorful tiles and glass, toy cars, dominoes, badges, wine corks, and more adorn the walls for your viewing pleasure while you’re “resting” at this artistic public restroom. If you arrive after hours you can still sit on the outdoor toilet seat bench and admire the mosaic toilet lid that arches over the bathroom entrances. A large concrete roll of toilet paper unravels into a sidewalk. Mri-Pilar and Eric Abraham led a local effort to create this plaza. In 2014, Bowl Plaza was voted the 2nd Best Public Restroom in the U.S. in a contest by the Cintas Company. In 2018, it received an international award for being the Quirkiest Restroom in the World. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 1-5pm
Carneiro: #10 on the Kanopolis Lake Legacy Trail tour. From Ellsworth, 11 miles east on K-140. Carneiro (Portuguese for "sheepfold") became a town in 1882 when Harvard graduate Edward Wellington established a vast sheep ranch at the point where the Smoky Hill Trail crossed Alum Creek. On this site the town emerged as Wellington built homes and buildings for his employees and for friends he had lured from Boston to help with his ranch. The Union Pacific Railroad stopped here as a shipping point for the sheep. Now, with crumbling facades, broken windows, trees, and bushes, this little unincorporated town is a veil of its former self.
Built as a water tower in 1907, this structure is the only native limestone circular jail in the state. The lower level was a jail until 1963 and held prisoners until they could be transported to the county jail. (NRHP)
From Beverly, 2 miles east on K-18, then 1/4 mile north on N 310. All alone beside a dirt road, this school stands out in lustrous red brick, a contrast to the typical limestone structures in this post rock countryside. Next to the stairs is a water pump where decades of children quenched their thirst.
Immigrants from Czechoslovakia began settling here in 1874, and 100 years later Wilson rightfully dubbed itself the Czech Capital of Kansas. The Czech Festival celebrates this heritage the last weekend of every July. Signs in Czech welcome you (Vitame Vas na Wilson) to this unique town where even downtown?s narrow red-brick street presents a European feel (Kansas style).
In a 2011 (restored in 2021) mural covering the entire wall south of Brant's, artist Erika Nelson has cleverly illustrated the early uses of native greenhorn limestone by Czech immigrants to this area.
If you're lucky enough to find Alan Vopat's gallery open you'll see alphabet letters used as you've never seen them before. Clusters of them form faces, bodies, objects, and much more. Not limited to 'letter art', Vopat?s creativity knows no bounds. Hours irregular. Call ahead. Find Alan's artwork at Switchgrass Studio.
From Lincoln, 7 miles west on K-18, then 3 miles north on 120 via a winding, hilly road. The first indicator that you?re near Denmark is the steeple of this 1878 native limestone church. At the church (originally named Dansk Evangelical Lutheran Kirke) you have a great 360-degree view of the Spillman Creek Valley. (NRHP)
The museum complex is on the two-block site of the original commercial district. It features the 1878 Victorian Hodgden House and the 1886 livery stable—both constructed with Dakota sandstone. Admission fee includes Fort Harker and all buildings at Ellsworth. Tue-Sat 10am-4pm (NRHP)
Built in Prairie School style, this 1913 school served many of the area's German Lutheran immigrants. It was closed during WWI due to anti-German hysteria. The school later re-opened but closed permanently in 1981. (NRHP)
A sharp eye will spot four limestone fence posts carved with faces. As a tribute to the area artists, Fred Whitman chose local folks for his subjects. Three 'face posts' can be found in Lucas along highway K-232 south of Lucas. A fourth one is found on K-18 highway just east of Lucas. For a list, stop by the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas. Detailed directions to each can be found by clicking on the link below.
#16 on the Kanopolis Lake Legacy Trail tour. From Kanopolis, 3 miles east on L, 1 mile south on 22, 1/4 mile left on M, 1 mile south (again) on 22, then west on N to the road's end. Look right toward the bottom of the bluffs and you'll see three distinct openings of the caves. Originally dug by Charles Griffee in the 1880s for a dwelling, they later were used by the Faris family for a spring house, generator room, and school. Annette Thille White uncovered the caves again in the 1980s. If the terrain is dry, you can go inside the caves.
In front of the converted grade school, now a fire department, stands a little shelter with a blond-brick base, a red bell, and a bright red sign. As a reminder of the fire department's past, the sign reads, "1901 Holyrood F.D. Chemical No. 1."
From 1942 to 1995 this schoolteacher used colored concrete and rocks to design postcards in her backyard of her favorite vacation sites. Florence Deeble's Rock Garden was intended to be viewed approaching from the alleyway behind the home. You'll see her title area, the Limestone Addition postcard scenes, and later Tribute to Lucas History section as you move from the back of the property to the front along the side yard. Deeble's house has become an interior art gallery for artist Mri-Pilar. The walls and ceilings are wrapped in silver insulation, and every inch is filled with Pilar's sculptures of recycled products that were inspired by the Goddess Isis. You've never seen anything like it! Free to wanter the rock garden. Admission charge for Deeble House. For tours, ask at the Grassroots Art Center. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 1-5pm
The American Fork Art Park was the inspiration and creation of self-taught artist, Mri-Pilar. For over 15 years these artistic (some over 7' tall) outdoor fork sculptures have been a photo opt moment for visitors. The sculptures reside on Main Street of Lucas next to Bowl Plaza, the mosaic public restroom. A local resident, Dwight Windle, volunteered to cut the smaller artistic metal forks designed by Pilar which are placed strategically so that visitors can enjoy a game of croquet. Come play and enjoy the game! Residing just south of Fork Art Park are the large metal sculptures of self-taught, recycled artist, Jim Dickerman of Beverly, Kansas. Check out more of Dickerman's outdoor metal art at the north end of Lucas Main Street (NE corner), the Grassroots Art Center and courtyard, and a small metal bird located at the concrete "LUCAS" sign at the intersection of HWY 232 and K-18.
#19 on the Kanopolis Lake Legacy Trail tour. From downtown Kanopolis, 1/2 mile west on Ohio (becomes L), then 1 mile south on 18th. At M, signage tells us that from 1864 to 1867 Fort Ellsworth, consisting of dugouts in the river bank, guarded supply wagons, stagecoaches, and early settlers.
Fort Ellsworth was established in 1864 to protect travelers enroute to Santa Fe or to Denver City. Renamed Fort Harker in 1866, it was moved months later to the present site of Kanopolis and became a major supply post for military campaigns against the Plains Indians. The fort closed in 1872, but four original buildings, all constructed with Dakota sandstone, still stand. A depot has been moved next to the guardhouse and presents the history of Kanopolis and area salt mines. Tue-Sat 10am-4pm. Admission charge. (NRHP)
Raymond Fox Still's outdoor styrofoam sculpture are being restored and placed throughout town. Fox, who passed away in 2017, lived in Sharon Springs in western Kansas. He was known for his unique archery targets made from wood, styrofoam and pipes. Some of his characters include the Abominable Snowman, Saber-Toothed Tiger, Energizer Bunny and a 15-foot tall T-Rex! Lacie Austin of Lucas has restored these fabulous animals that are located along the downtown Main Street of Lucas. Additional Still animal sculptures can be viewed at the Grassroots Art Center gallery and courtyard.
A sight full of character, the Garden of Eden is the epitome of grassroots art. S.P. Dinsmoor built his 11-room limestone and concrete log cabin home and Garden of Eden sculptures from 1907 to 1929 using 113 tons of cement and goodness knows how many tons of limestone! The sculptures are Dinsmoor's interpretation of the Bible, Populist politics, and modern civilization. He built the 40-foot-tall limestone mausoleum for himself and his first wife, and he is laid to rest in a handmade, glass-topped concrete coffin. Folks in Lucas tried to run Dinsmoor out of town, but in time his work became the area's main attraction, and still is today. Exterior sculptures are available after hours for self-tours. Admission charge. (NRHP)
Even the bright mosaic entrance sign on E. K-18 is grassroots art. This art style is fashioned by people who haven't formally studied art, and it has no inhibiting rules. The sculpture on top is an M. T. Liggett metal totem. On the new “2nd Best Small Town Arts Scene” billboard nearby look for the colorful tin man on top fashioned by self-taught recycled artist Gary Pendergrass. He is well known as the creator of the Steampunk yard environment at Wichita. Stop in Lucas to see the world from a grassroots artist perspective.
Permanent grassroot art exhibits include Inez Marshall's colorful limestone sculptures and Ed Root's concrete and glass-embedded creations. You'll see Herman Divers life-sized motorcycle made so sturdily from pop-can tabs that you could sit on it! This art center also has an endless flow of tickle-your-fancy temporary exhibits. The outdoor Post Rock Courtyard displays elements of distinctive native limestone architecture and its artistry. Admission charge. $9 Adults, $5 Children, Members Free, and $1 coupons available for groups (20+) and special events (BKRT). Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 1-5pm.
Originally the Ford Building, in 1985 it became the office of this locally owned telecommunications company. Small glass tiles from the original transoms are now in the chandeliers and front desk, and early telephones are on display. Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
From Lincoln, go 8 miles south on K-14, curve west and continue 3 miles west on Elk. You'll pass wind farms and rolling hills and arrive at a pony truss bridge (NRHP) on the Spring Creek tributary. From the bridge, go 3 miles north on 150 past an abandoned but beautiful stone home and barn, then 2 miles west on Hawk to the stone single-arch Bullfoot Creek Bridge (NRHP). Four miles north on 130 and 1 mile west on Lark brings you to Vesper.
From the Denmark church, 1/2 mile west on Denmark. Just before reaching the grain elevator, look for a stone single-arch bridge. West of the tracks you'll find the abandoned stone buildings that once housed the bank and other businesses. A sign indicates that the Denmark Hotel formerly occupied a two-story wooden building, now a residence. Tour Denmark's historic post rock limestone church, community hall, and commercial district buildings on Saturday, May 4 from 9am-1pm. Volunteers on site to talk about the history of this Scandinavian-settled community as it was settled in 1869 to present day. Refreshments will be served at the Community Hall on Saturday May 4, 2024 from 9am-1pm.
The unusual two-story wooden structure on the grounds of Simple Haven Bed and Breakfast is a late-1920s water tower (no longer in use).
Seventeen interpretive signs around town, marked by silhouettes, feature the history of Ellsworth and help you visualize the Wild West and Ellsworth's cowtown days.
Constructed in 1887, this structure is an example of the earlier style Santa Fe depots in Kansas. On the exterior you'll see decorative eave brackets, a gabled bay window, and a large overhang that once protected passengers from the weather. The passenger wing has been converted into a small museum that documents Holyrood’s railroad and community history. Explore the freight dock and find the scribblings of passengers of the past. ADA accessible & restroom available. (NRHP) Thu-Fri 2-4pm; Sat 1-4pm.
Between the I-70 exits for Vesper (216) and Sylvan Grove (209), on the south side of the highway, interstate travelers have seen a "guiding light" every night since 1976. In that year Gerald Klema and friends erected a 60-foot steel cross lit with 44 bulbs. It stands near the Excelsior Lutheran Church. Photo by Katye Wray.
KANcycle is a rural bike share program. You can find bikes to rent in Ellsworth and Lincoln. Bikes can easily be checked out with Movatic app. Ride for as long as you want and then return the bike to a KANcycle rack. Available 24/7 and FREE RIDES for this event! In Ellsworth, find bikes in Krizek Park and downtown at Douglas & Main.
KANcycle is a rural bike share program. You can find bikes to rent in Ellsworth and Lincoln. Bikes can easily be checked out with Movatic app. Ride for as long as you want and then return the bike to a KANcycle rack. Available 24/7 and FREE RIDES for this event! In Lincoln, find bikes at the Courthouse Square.
Kanopolis preserves one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in Kansas, and folks have been coming here since 1952 to watch movies under the stars. It generally operates from the first weekend of April to mid-September.
From K-4, 3 miles north on K-141. Completed in 1948, Kanopolis is the oldest recreation state park in Kansas. Among its 35 miles of trails, the five-and-a-half-mile Horsethief Canyon Trail is a statewide favorite for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. A beautiful trail, it features canyons, sandstone bluffs, prairie, and low-water crossings. State park entrance charge. Cabins available, reservations required.
Drive through the Smoky Hills on this 80-mile trail featuring 27 historic sites—from forts and caves to cemeteries and ghost towns. Pick up a brochure at Kanopolis State Park office or the Corps information office. https://legendsofkansas.com/kanopolis-lake-legacy-trail/. For a pdf download click on Read More.
You can't miss the wagon wheels that accent the exterior of the Kyne House. This native limestone museum helps tell the county story and showcases F.A. Cooper's work including an unfinished county map depicting historical events.Admittance by donation. Wed-Fri 1-5pm; Sat 10am-2pm (NRHP)
When you have lots of limestone to use for building structures, why not built a jail? That's what the community did in 1902 and it's still standing today. Another quirky place in Lucas for a selfie!
Look for the big awning that announces this art center, housed in yet another golden limestone building. Rotating exhibits of unique work from Kansas and other states are displayed in an appealing open space. A gift gallery features products by Kansas artists. Tue-Fri 12-4pm; Sat 9am-12pm
Take the main cemetery entrance to the second crossroad. Just in front of the limestone mausoleum stands the gravestone for a Civil War drummer boy. Continue to the end of that driveway, turn west on South, then north at the next crossroad. The first gravestone on the west side is shaped like a suitcase and marks the 1891 grave of a traveling salesman. A fitting epitaph reads, "Here Is Where He Stopped Last."
Go ahead and give the big cottonwood tree a hug! The park has a number of limestone structures made by the National Youth Administration in the 1930s including picnic tables, a shelter, and an amphitheater.
This Romanesque Revival courthouse was built in 1900 using native limestone to achieve a striking result. A 1913 Civil War statue of a soldier at parade rest stands to the southeast of the courthouse. (NRHP)
M. T. (Myron Thomas) Liggett was a self-taught, Kansas grassroots metal artist from Mullinville. Over thirty years later he has created some 500+ metal totems that are displayed on a section of farm ground on the west edge of Mullinville. He donated several metal totems to the Grassroots Art Center at Lucas. These outdoor sculptures installed along Harvest Road depict mythology, political and social happenings in society. The metal discs that are painted with sayings are the artwork of Tess Dunkel McKnight, Luray, Kansas.
The Grassroots Art Center sponsored an art contest asking for ideas to embellish Main Street light poles. Entries came in from across the US with youth to professional artists participating. The selected artists created and installed their pole art along the two blocks of Main Street. Visitors will experience flying fish, a red dragon head, wheat, mosaic diver, steam punk tractor, metal cow heads, sticks, serpents and more.
Roy and Clara Miller collected rocks and shells during their 1930s-1960s travels and transformed them into miniature Lucas buildings. The stand-alone towers they made from slag glass and barite roses. Visitors stopped often to see this roadside attraction, but after Roy's and Clara's deaths the miniatures were moved to Hays in 1969. Thanks to passionate efforts, these works of art came home to Lucas in 2013. In a park-like setting, the miniatures can be admired from behind the fence. Located just east of the Garden of Eden.
From K-156, just north on K-14, 1/2 mile west on L, then 1 mile north on 14th. Follow the sandy road past the TV towers to a hilltop cemetery where you'll enjoy a great view of Ellsworth. Mother Bickerdyke isn't buried in this cemetery, but you'll find a memorial to her among the graves of 32 of her Civil War nurses and the wives of Civil War veterans.
#11 on the Kanopolis Lake Legacy Trail tour. From K-140, 2 miles south on K-141, then 2 miles west on K. These mushroom-shaped rocks are a geologic phenomenon of sandstone spheres. Two are balanced on a stone "mushroom stem!" They likely served as meeting places and landmarks for American Indians and early pioneers. Cross the footbridge and to the east find the rock bearing an etching of the U.S. flag.
The ornate, historic Insurance Building will one day be home to the hall of fame dedicated to preserving the heritage of the cattle trailing industry. (NRHP)
Kids will love finding Jim Dickerman's creatures along K-18 between Beverly and Lincoln, around Lincoln, and at the south end of Lincoln on K-14. The creatures, made from scrap farm equipment, car parts, bones, and feathers, come in all sizes.
A large 800+ sq ft outdoor mural entitled "In the Wind" is a tribute to renewable wind energy which has been powering Lincoln County since the 19th century and is now providing power and economic benefits from a nearby modern wind farm. The mural also includes the old limestone Vesper school, which disappeared (figuratively) in the wind with the rest of the City of Vesper. Other objects in the mural include the Kansas official bird, the meadowlark, limestone post rock and other local scenery and the Kansas flag which was originally designed by a Lincoln County native, Hazel Avery. Meet the artist, Mathew Miller, at the Lincoln Art Center from 6pm-7pm. You can also see his art collection on display there during the BKRT.
Post rock is the "friendly" name for the Greenhorn Limestone rock layer when it is used to make fence posts. When that layer is used for structures, it is referred to as native limestone. Lincoln County is known as the Post Rock Capital of Kansas.
This 18-mile drive from Wilson to Lucas, passing Wilson Lake, delivers sweeping vistas of grasslands, rock outcroppings, and long rows of the post rock fences. Wildflowers dot the roadway during their growing seasons.
The 20 mile long Post Rock Scenic Byway runs along K-232, across the Wilson Lake Dam, from Lucas to Wilson in central Kansas. The byway showcases the native limestone fence posts and farm steads built by the early settlers. The stone was used for building material because of the lack of trees.
Two museums are housed inside the 1881 two-story limestone bank building. One tells the story of scouting in the United States. The second museum resembles an actual old-time drugstore. Product containers, shelving, druggist tools, and a ?shock box? are a few exhibits that make this an exceptional stop.(NRHP)
Because it's off the main drag, finding this old-time park is a nice surprise. It includes a 1940 National Youth Administration band shell, a rock-lined creek, and a series of bridge—a nostalgic and lovely place!
North and south side of the railroad tracks nearest E. Although no longer in use, the complex of historic grain elevators is a favorite subject for photographers. Built prior to 1900, Soukup Elevators (south side of the tracks) also sold coal and implements, thus the Sunflower Coal mural on the smaller building. Kyner Elevators are on the north side of the tracks.
From K-18, 8 miles north on K-181. Pull into the driveway just north of the new bridge to view the 1908 greenhorn limestone double-arch bridge and to read its story on the historical marker. A small roadside turn-off and gazebo marks the location to view the limestone bridge. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From here, backtrack 3/4 mile south on K-181, then 1/8 mile east on Sage to find a stone single-arch bridge.
The old Ford dealership on Main Street is now Standing Dog Studio, a local artist's gallery. LeAnne Doljac's gallery is filled with weird and wonderful art you never knew you needed: torch cut metals, ceramics, mosaics, paintings, hand dyed fabrics and more. A great place to purchase some quirky art to remind you of your wild adventure, or just stop by to view some local art and get some free snacks.
Inside this 100-year-old limestone building is an interior filled with creativity. Over 1,200 pieces of original artwork made by 21 area artists are sold here along with art supplies and thrift store finds. Wed 11am-4pm; Thu-Fri 11am-5pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 12-4pm
In years past, locals brought their cream, eggs, and grain to this elevator company, and the limestone building was the hub of ag commerce for the town. Today, though those trades are no longer a part of the town, the building is once again becoming a vital hub on Main Street. During your visit you will see how a committed group of senior citizens is repurposing a historic building to enhance Main Street and its economy, provide a new home for their Senior Center members, and create a unique meeting space in The Warehouse and the new connected courtyard. Sit on the patio, and enjoy some coffee, lemonade, and cookies. Visit with the members about their joy in helping the community, the challenges they faced during the revitalization, and their excitement about the future planned intergenerational events.
"Erected by the taxpayers of Holyrood" is etched into the bottom right corner of the 1926 red-brick city building.
Barb Rathbun's passion for collecting cookbooks over a period of many years resulted in the transformation of a small home into a museum of almost 9,000 cookbooks. They range from church and humorous cookbooks to ones centering around Southern funeral or cannibis recipes! The oldest dates to the 1890s; the biggest is 12 x 5". Stop by! She'd love to share them with you.
The Sylvan Grove Historical Society maintains this 1887 depot featuring a passenger waiting room, agent's office, and freight room. You'll find lots of historical artifacts and memorabilia inside. Antique farm equipment will also be on display. Open Thu 5-7pm; Fri 12-7pm; Sat 9am-5pm.
When the railroad built through to Ellsworth in 1872, the Texas cattle drovers followed. It was during these trail driving days that Ellsworth gained its reputation as the "wickedest" cowtown in Kansas.
Why is Main wide enough to double park in the middle? Before the automobile age, posts and stone water troughs for tying up and watering horses stood midway from either side of the street. As the story goes, with their horses and buggies parked in the center, folks could sit along the sidewalks and visit and not be in danger of being kicked!
Not to be missed is the impressive granite Civil War monument featuring a Union soldier statue at its apex. Further adorning the memorial is a metal lion's head out of which water once poured to fill the watering trough for horses. The Czechoslovakian influence is apparent in this cemetery in the names of the interred.
The buttery yellow Lustron home is one of only 91 of the approximately 100 prefabricated steel homes built in Kansas. After WWII, housing needs expedited the building of these low maintenance, highly durable homes.
Out of the ashes of the 2009 fire will come an open-air pavilion with both outdoor and indoor stages. The salvageable stone from the 1901 limestone opera house will be incorporated into the pavilion.
Thousands of volunteer hours and countless gallons of paint resulted in a giant colorful egg painted in the traditional kraslice style. Designed by local art teacher Christine Slechta, the fiberglass egg weighs 7,000 pounds and measures 20x15 feet. The egg rests under a stylish gazebo shelter.
Honoring the multiple Outsider Art environments that have flourished in Lucas since the early 1900s, the World’s Largest Souvenir Travel Plates depict those environments alongside a visual history of the town. The dish itself is 14’ in diameter, formed from a large fiberglass satellite dish with another, smaller dish mounted inside as the center medallion. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the large travel plate was originally painted by Erika Nelson in 2006 and refurbished with updated imagery in 2018.
World's Largest Thing's Roadside Sideshow Expo features exhibits about roadside attractions billed as Worlds Largest Things, and houses the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things. The colorful mural above the awning hints at the wonders inside the downtown exhibition space. Souvenir vending located inside!
An American doughboy statue stands atop this monument dedicated in 1919 "In Honor of our Soldiers Sailors and Marines of the World War."
The Yesterday House Museum is located in the historic B. F. Foster building. Displays highlight events, commerce, artifacts, and people related to the 148-year history of Sylvan Grove. A new annex features a display of antique farm machinery and related items. Fri 12-7pm; Sat 9am-5pm.