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Anchor away at Ada Church!

As the sign says, Ada Church is one mile north and 1/2 mile west of Kackley.  You know, near Norway---same county as Cuba---in Republic County, three counties north of Salina.
Located at 442 Valley Road, the closest incorporated town is Courtland, population 275.  The church was dedicated in 1884.

In 1901 the painting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Dr. Birger Sandzen was placed above the altar.  To the left and right you can see Sandzen's Swedish decorative touch.

The big surprise awaits you in the cemetery.  You'll notice a big metal object.  As you get closer you'll see that it is an anchor!  Someone left it after 1930 to recognize that Swan Anton Haggman had been in the Merchant Marines.

The GAR marker indicates that S.A., born in 1842, served in the Civil War.
You never know what you'll find in a Kansas cemetery.  Some stories are more evident than others!
Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant are going to every town in the state to research for the next Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  Which towns have they researched already?  See the list here.


Beauty in the buildings, in Dighton!

Dighton, Kansas
Dighton is the county seat of Lane County.

Located a block south of main street, the 1931 courthouse has a strong and elegant look.  Simple ornamentation and forest green panels between the windows accent the straight lines, blond brick and white stone.
We were stepping on art when we entered!
 Tools and other items found in the county jail are displayed in a case in the lobby.
We were told to ask the magistrate judge, Shelley, for a tour of the courtroom.  We felt like we were imposing but she had a few spare minutes and gave us a wonderful tour.  Can you see the textile sections on the ceiling?
Early settlers made homes out of the available resource -- sod.  One stands on the grounds of the historical complex and a painting in the courtroom by Mary Bosley features also features a sod house.


 One of the original remnants in the courtroom include this lamp on the judge's desk.
 The high school has some artistic features similar to the 1928 Wichita North High School.
Lane County, from your sod house to your grain bin house, you've got a good foundation to build!
See you down the road, Marci, KE #2

Marienthal, small but mighty

Located in Wichita County on K-96, the two most known things about this town are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

One of the two is Heartland Mill.  A strong advocate for organic farming, they buy from local farmers and sell hard-to-find products to the craft baker. They've been around for over 20 years with a stellar reputation and work ethnic.
A retail shop may be coming but for now, this stucco house is the office and the place for visitors to stop.  A few items are on sale here.  Busy, yet friendly, the two woman here are knowledgeable (one is co-owner)!
For a different experience in Marienthal, find the Bluebird.  As you can see, it's been around forever, which makes it even more intriguing.  More bar now than bar-and-grill, the guys at the Scott Co-op in Modoc recommended that we go here.
One evening, just before dark, we pulled back the vintage screen door and, within a few steps, found the bar.  (It's always good to sit near the locals).  It didn't take long to start a conversation since we didn't look like we were "from these parts."  It turned out a childhood friend of mine married the brother of the bartender.  We had a great visit and the two guys at the bar bought our cold drinks.
From organic wheat to Rainbo bread screen doors, Mariental has a nice balance of attractions!
See you down the road, KE #2 Marci Penner

Kingman County

Kingman, Kansas

As we were driving into Kingman on K-14 from the east, we thought we saw a llama standing with cattle or buffalo at the top of a hill.
We made a U-turn to look closer.  Wow!  Glenn Stark, you fooled us with your clever illusion.  How fun!
What a great beginning to our Kingman research.
We stopped at Jeri's Cafe for lunch and almost immediately got wrapped up in the big toilet paper controversy.  It's tradition to paint the town with toilet paper for homecoming but, it turns out, not everyone appreciates the artwork.
A sophomore even waved at us from their the Homecoming parade float!
See the building with an airplane mural on the side?  Stan Herd's mural of Kingman County native Clyde Cessna's early plane now graces the north side of the Kingman County Museum.  Built in 1882, this red-bricked structure first housed city hall, the jail and the fire department.  Attached to it is one of the most iconic landmarks in Kingman, the 80-foot tall cotton-hose drying tower, one of the only such towers remaining in the state.
We found the museum entrance on the southeast side and, since it was Friday, they were open.  It was time to do more research about this octagonal tower.
I had never actually seen the drying tower from the inside.  Luckily I knew one of the museum  volunteers and before we knew it, we were walking through the storage room to the tower.  On the way we even passed one of the old cotton water hoses, still on the cart that horses pulled to fires! 
One of the old 50-foot water hoses was hanging from the top of the tower.  This was how they dried the hoses, which was necessary to keep them from getting moldy. 
I was finally satisfied about that functional yet handsome tower.
While in the storage room we came across yet another Kansas ball of twine.  At another spot in the room we found the origin of this roll.  "This ball of twine was collected at the Spivey Cafe.  Fresh meat was delivered daily to the cafe wrapped in brown paper and tied with heavy twine.  The cafe owner, Alfred Manjoet, saved the twine and displayed it here."  Our Kansas ball of twine count has gone up to three now (Cawker City, Columbus, Kingman).
Kingman is fortunate to have one of fifteen George Washburn-designed courthouses in the state, this one built in 1907-08.  They are also fortunate to have Mark, an outstanding maintenance man.
Once inside we stooped to admire the floor tiles and before we could straighten up Mark was there to explain.  Each decorative one-by-one inch tile was laid by hand.  Talk about a detail that helps you appreciate.  Wow!  He took us to all sorts of nooks and crannies in the courthouse and finally up to the very top!  THIS is what we love about ERVing.
By the time we left the courthouse, this K-State Wildcat fan and I were fast friends.  THIS is the best part of ERVing.

It doesn't hurt to have a car wrapped in wild colors and words to draw attention and have people ask what you're doing.  But even in my first journey around the state with an unmarked car these kind of interactions happened.  If you look curious, I suppose, and especially if you have a camera, people will stop to visit with you. 
We were at the Mill Race Gardens bridge in Riverside Parkk when Gregg from the city parks and rec department stopped to say hi.  Within minutes he let us know that the park had once been home to a half-mile oval racetrack where thousands of people came to watch sulky and quarter-horse races.
Before we knew it, Gregg had invited us to the city building to see some old pictures.  THIS is what we love about ERVing.

As we were to leave town, we came across this scene.  The bucking bull, it looked familiar...  And then the "aha" went off in my head.  It looked akin to those cattle on the east side of Kingman, the ones standing with their llama friend.  It was Glenn Stark at work again.  Smiles at beginning and end of our journey.  Thanks for a great time, Kingman!

January 04, 2014
John & Kathy Slaymaker, Wichita

Surprises everywhere in Kingman County

Zenda, Kansas

The "want" to know leads you to all sorts of unexpected places. We asked where Clyde Cessna was buried and then took off to see if we could follow vague directions. 
Why would a county name one road SE 70 Street and another SE 70 Avenue?  We still managed to find the turn to Greenwood Cemetery.
A worthy veteran's memorial was located on one side of this remote cemetery.  On the right side were the words "over the top."  Did that mean that Harry Dickinson was killed in action?
Clyde Cessna would have likely approved of the cattle guard entrance and sun dial.  We wondered what the arch (not pictured) symbolized.

Being in Waterloo didn't keep these jaw-dropping trees, including many champion trees, from thriving in the oldest arboretum in the state.  Have you heard of this peaceful place?


Zenda, population 90, may be small but many people know about it because of what the  Lumberyard Cafe can put on the table.  People regularly make the drive from Wichita and other distances to eat here. 
Abandoned buildings have a nostalgic vibe and some have an exploratory appeal like the museum, post office, and jail! 
Give yourself to exploring your way to Norwich, Cunningham, Nashville, Penalosa, and Spivey and keep your eye out for the picturesque clear-water Ninnescah River that winds its way through this Arkansas River Lowland region.  Adams is a ghost town and you'll find the old red-brick high school covered by shrubs.  Unincorporated Rago, home of Clyde Cessna, shows the vestiges of it's now-closed post office.  In Mt. Vernon, another unincorporated town near Cheney Lake, you'll find Creations, a delicious eatery with occasional live music.  A church steeple will show itself as you near Mt. Vernon and when you get there a mutli-colored directional sign will let you know you're at Creations.
This is a post about things we've seen on our ERV (Explorer Research Voyage) to every town in the state.