Friday, July 31, 2015

Finally – We Visit Manhattan! (Kansas)

I told Laurie that some day I’d take her to spend a night on the town in Manhattan… This was it! (I think that she might have been expecting something a bit larger and more glamorous…)

We headed north from Council Grove on Kansas Hwy. 177 toward Manhattan Kansas, where we had a hotel reservation for the night.

Along the way we passed these very classy and impressive signs announcing and guiding passing motorists to the 128 year old town of Alta Vista.  Our reaction was Wow!  This town must have something going on…

As it turned out, the signs worked and we drove through the town… It’s off the main highway and it has a population of around 430 residents.  Alta Vista was founded in 1887 and it was incorporated as a city in 1905.  Alta Vista is derived from the Spanish word for "high view".  The town was given its name based on its lofty elevation.  Alta Vista sits ‘high’ on the plains at 1,497 feet above sea level.  By contrast, Council Grove is only 1,234 feet above sea level and Manhattan is down at 1,019.  Hills are duly noted when in Kansas!

The main attraction Alta Vista has is the Ag Heritage Park at 103 South Main Street.  It’s not really a museum, but rather a personal collection of agricultural equipment, household goods and appliances gone amok!  Call ahead…$5.00 donations suggested.  Website:

From Alta Vista we headed north on Kansas Hwy. 177 for our overnight stay in Manhattan.  Talk about ‘big sky country’!  It was 24 miles from Alta Vista to Manhattan and with the exception of where we bisected I-70 this was the scenery…stark beauty.


·       Rural flight to larger cities has resulted in the fact that in Kansas there are more than 6,000 ghost towns and dwindling communities. 

The 1880 Damon Runyon House is an American Folk Style House located at 400 Osage Street in Manhattan Kansas.  Alfred Damon Runyon was born on October 4, 1880 in the little front parlor room of the house.  If the name sounds at all familiar, it’s because he is a prominent newspaper columnist, sportswriter, novelist, playwright and screenwriter in the first half of the twentieth century.  He was the author of “Guys and Dolls” and many regard him as the father of "Broadway" in New York City.  To learn more about him, go to


·       Runyon died in New York City from throat cancer in late 1946, at age 66.  His body was cremated and his ashes were illegally scattered from a DC-3 airplane over Broadway in Manhattan New York by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker on December 18, 1946.

·       After Runyon's death, his friend and fellow journalist, Walter Winchell, went on his radio program and appealed for contributions to help fight cancer, eventually establishing the Damon Runyon Cancer Memorial Fund to support scientific research into causes of, and prevention of cancer.  That organization is still functioning today.  Website:

This is another one of those houses that Laurie and I just liked the looks of!  It isn’t listed in the National Register but it is a handsome and distinguished looking home that is old but very nicely maintained…

Manhattan Kansas was founded by settlers from the “New England Emigrant Aid Company” as a Free-State town in the 1850's during the Pre-Civil War “Bleeding Kansas” era.  Nicknamed "The Little Apple" as a play on New York City's "Big Apple", Manhattan is today best known as being the home of Kansas State University with its roughly 25,000 students.  Manhattan itself has a population of over 52,000 residents and it’s the county seat for Riley County.  The giant Fort Riley Military Reservation (US Army) is located just outside the city.

This handsome mission revival style depot was built by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1902.  The cost of construction: $10,000.  Theodore Roosevelt stopped here on his famous whistle stop campaign of the USA in 1903.  Passenger service continued here until 1971 and freight trains rumbled by until 1984.

The tracks are now long gone and the depot now sits by itself in the middle of a roadway interchange.   The building is managed by the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department.  It’s available for rent as a multi-use facility for exhibitions, conferences, receptions, parties, meetings, weddings, etc.

The Kansas Pacific Railroad began its existence in 1855 as the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad.  The name "Kansas Pacific" was actually not adopted until 1869.  It first arrived in Manhattan in 1866 and at that time, a wooden depot was constructed to serve its customers.  The Kansas Pacific railroad was consolidated with the Union Pacific in 1880.  Its mainline continues to be an integral part of the Union Pacific network today.

The railroad stimulated significant growth in the area and other railroads also came to town.  One was the Manhattan, Alma and Burlingame Railroad, which was built in 1880.  That line was abandoned in 1898.   Established in 1879, the Marysville Blue Valley Railroad followed the Blue River north from Manhattan.  Later, as part of the Union Pacific System, that line was abandoned in 1958 when a dam and reservoir planned was initiated which blocked the right of way.

The Seven Dolors Catholic Church, located at 731 Pierre in Manhattan, was completed in 1920.   The parish itself was established in 1880.  This Romanesque Revival limestone block and brick structure is topped with a green tile gable roof and it’s accented by those twin 85 foot tall towers.  The church was named after the ‘Seven Sorrows’ of the Virgin Mary.

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Council Grove Kansas (#2)

With over a dozen places listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we weren’t quite done exploring Council Grove! 

It should be noted that the Downtown Business District is listed basically in its entirety as is the Santa Fe National Historic Landmark District… We photographed segments of both districts but missed major portions of both as well as 4 other free standing historic places.  There is a lot to see in this historic town…

This tree trunk with a roof over it is part of the Santa Fe Trail Historic District.  From 1825 to 1847, Santa Fe Trail travelers left messages in a cache at the foot of this bur oak tree to inform others of trail conditions, giving it its name, "Post Office Oak".  Believed to have been 270 years old when it died in 1990, its stump has been preserved on the site.

The adjacent stone house is now a museum operated by the Morris County Historical Society.  It was built in 1864 as a residence…with a brewery in the basement.  The museum is open on Sundays during the summer and by appointment only at other times.


·       The Santa Fe Trail connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880.

·       The Trail crossed Comancheria, the territory of the Comanches, who demanded compensation for granting passage to the trail.  Americans routinely assaulted the Comanches along the trail, finding it unacceptable that they had to pay a fee for passage to Santa Fe.

·       The Trail was used as the 1846 United States invasion route of New Mexico during the Mexican–American War.

The Cottage House Hotel at 25 North Neosho Street was built in 1867.  Originally it was a three-room cottage and blacksmith shop that grew into a boarding house in 1871…known as the Cottage House.  Major additions were made between 1881 and 1913.  This Italianate ‘cube’ style bed-and-breakfast has been restored to the eras of each of those additions.  Back in early 1900s, this little hotel was considered to be very upscale indeed when compared to most others.

To learn more about the Cottage House Bed and Breakfast as well as the dining room, just go to


·       Council Grove is the county seat in Morris County, Kansas.  It was named after an agreement between European Americans and the Osage Nation about allowing settlers' wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed to the West.  Pioneers gathered at a grove of trees so that wagons could band together for their trip west.

·       Today the population of Council Grove is estimated to be approximately 2,200 residents. 

The Kaw Mission was built in 1851 as a school for boys from the Kaw (Kanza) American Indian tribe.  The State of Kansas is named after this tribe.  For more information about this historical site, just go to  

Basically, the mission was established by Methodists who attempted to educate Kaw boys as a means of folding the Indians into the Euro-American culture.  Thirty Kaw boys lived and attended school here from 1851 to 1854. The Kaw lived here along the Santa Fe Trail for less than 30 years before the U.S. government removed them to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).


·       Today, the Kaw Nation's headquarters is in Kaw City, Oklahoma.  Current tribal membership is roughly 3,200 but less than half of the tribe resides in Oklahoma.

·       The name of Topeka, capital city of Kansas, is said to be the Kaw word Tó Ppí Kˀé meaning "a good place to grow potatoes."

In 1861 the federal government built 138 of these stone huts on the Kaw reservation south of Council Grove.  This one hut has been relocated and rebuilt on the mission grounds.  This is another example of the government trying to ‘help’ people.   The Indians, who had for generations been living comfortably in skin tepees and bark-and-mat lodges, wanted nothing to do with their new homes, choosing instead to stable their horses and dogs in them!


·       The Kaw Mission State Historic Site is the first designated stop on the twenty-one site historical tour route through the town.  It’s also Council Grove’s official visitor information center.  To learn about the historical tour, go to   

This was our last stop in Council Grove… The Carnegie Library building was built ca. 1917 and it’s located at 303 West Main Street.  The Morris County Historical Society holds its meetings at this building.

A total of 63 Carnegie Foundation funded libraries were built in Kansas during the first 3 decades of the 20th Century with 4 of them being built on college campuses.  At least 40 Carnegie Library building in Kansas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In total, the Foundation built 1,681 city libraries and 108 college libraries in the USA. 

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by and helping us explore Council Grove Kansas!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Council Grove Kansas (#1)

After leaving the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, it was only a 17 mile drive north on Kansas Hwy. 177 before we arrived in Council Grove.  Upon arrival, we started searching for a number of sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places…

This is the Farmers and Drovers Bank Building at 201 West Main Street.  Built in 1892, this interesting and well maintained building is an example of a mix of architectural styles with brick and stone masonry, Romanesque arches, a Byzantine dome and minarets.  As of 1980, when this building was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, the same family that founded this bank continued to operate it…

Note: By the early 1880s, Council Grove had a large stone courthouse, a large steam-powered flour mill, 9 grocery stores, 2 hardware stores, several dry goods stores, 3 restaurants, a furniture store, a bank, 3 livery stables, a lumber yard, 4 hotels and 4 churches. 

This is the Council Grove National Bank building located at 130 West Main Street.  Constructed in 1887, this former bank building was originally the Morris County State Bank.  It’s an example of Western commercial architecture influenced by the High Victorian Italianate style.

Factoid:  In 1868, some 400 Cheyenne Indians flooded Council Grove armed and painted for war.  The town was taken completely by surprise but the warriors were actually destined for a confrontation with the Kanza Indians and they moved on.  For more about this incident, go to:
This story is about half way down on pg. 2.

The Hays House…which proudly and boldly displays its age…is located at 203 Wood Street.  The Hays House lays claim to being the oldest, continuously-operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.  It has been recognized by the Kansas Sampler Foundation as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine.  It was first opened in 1857 because of its location on the Santa Fe Trail… 

The Hays House was a gathering place for meals but additionally it was a district court, a mail distribution center, a popular tavern, home to bawdy theatricals, and on Sundays a sheet was used to cover the liquor bottles so that church services could be held here.  Both Jesse James and General Custer are said to have consumed adult beverages here...

Seth Hays was the first European-American settler in the area.  He arrived in 1847 to trade with the Kaw tribe, which had a reservation established in the area in 1846.  Hays was a great grandson of Daniel Boone.  He also built the Hays House… 

To learn more about the Hays House 1857 Restaurant, you can go to

This is The Last Chance Store… This store was built from hand-hewn native limestone in 1857 and it is the oldest remaining commercial building in Council Grove.  For a time, it was the last place to purchase supplies for travelers headed down the Santa Fe Trail…providing it the nickname by which it has long been known.  In addition, the building housed post office facilities for several years and also served as a government trading house for the Kaw Indians.

Factoid: The National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and became part of the National Auto Trail system in the United States. It was 3,096 miles long stretching from Baltimore Maryland to the west coast.  Much of the route followed the old National Road and the Santa Fe Trail through Council Grove.

I’m always looking for old railway depots… Somehow, I missed finding this attractive and well maintained 1894 Missouri, Kansas and Texas Combination Depot!  It appears to be in a park and perhaps that’s the clue that I missed during my brief search…

To make matters worse, this little Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad passenger depot sits right next to the combination depot shown above!  This little depot was relocated to Council Grove from Sylvan Kansas. 

I ‘borrowed’ these 2 photos from Jack Marshall’s website,  This is an extremely helpful and user friendly website with an interactive map of the USA showing roughly 9,000 depot locations and featuring photos of about 6,550 depots… I use this site whenever planning a road trip.  You can dial the map down to street level which can be very helpful when searching for depots. 

Somehow, this is the only railroad depot that I found in Council Grove.  This old Missouri Pacific Railroad freight depot sits on private property at the northeast corner of US Hwy. 56 and Kansas Hwy. 177.  It’s being used for storage. 
I identified this 3rd Council Grove depot by using a website established by the Railroad Station Historical Society Inc.  While this site doesn’t have photos, it frequently provides addresses and additional depots/railroad structures that aren’t listed elsewhere.  For example, this depot wasn’t shown on the ‘depot maps’ website mentioned under the previous photos… The Historical Society’s website,, lists 24 different categories of remaining railroad/railway structures.  These include depots, railroad bridges, gate towers, water tanks, roundhouses and tunnels, etc.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – Kansas

Our next stop in our short tour of east central Kansas was just north of Strong City.

This is the Visitor’s Center for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  For some reason, I don’t remember much about the visitor’s center, but I do know that we purchased another souvenir pin for Laurie’s pin-laden vest.  We both thought that the visitor’s center was unattractive and in our opinion it didn’t fit the site… Inside the building visitors will find has restrooms, water fountains, a short orientation film, Jr. Ranger activities and a number of exhibits pertaining to tall grass prairies. 

FYI, tall grass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority had been developed and plowed under.  Today less than 4% remains, most of it in the Kansas Flint Hills.  The preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tall grass prairie. 

In my opinion, this photo supports the view that the Visitor’s Center (at the left) clashes with the big stone barn and the era it represents. 

Note the bus… Daily Park Ranger guided bus tours are offered at 11 AM.  The Preserve covers almost 11,000 acres and a herd of buffalo reside out on the Prairie.  One can also walk the trails through the grasslands… With the exception of 180 acres owned by the Park Service, the rest of the preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy is our favorite charitable environmental organization and we’ve been a member for many years.  It works in more than 35 countries, including all 50 states.  The Conservancy has over 1,000,000 members, and it has protected more than 119,000,000 acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers throughout the world.  The Conservancy also operates more than 100 marine conservation projects globally.  The organization's assets total $6.18 billion as of 2014.  Although critics complain that the Conservancy is too close to business, we both applaud this collaborative approach…  To learn more, just go to

The Spring Hill Farm and ‘Z-Bar’ Stock Ranch is at the core of the Tallgrass Preserve.  It was a showplace for cattleman Stephen F. Jones and his wife Louisa.  In 1878 they came to Kansas from Colorado wishing to graze cattle on the “fine prairie grasses” of the Flint Hills and then ship them by rail to market in Kansas City.  The ranch grew to 7,000 acres, specializing in Hereford, Durham, and Galloway cattle.

Stephen Jones used his massive 60 x 110 foot limestone barn to house animals, shelter equipment, and store the hay and grain that fed the livestock during the winter months.  In 1885, Jones’ livestock numbered 200 swine, 30 horses, 8 milk cows, 4 mules, and hundreds of cattle foraging on the ranch’s prairie grasses. The barn was built into the side of the hill for natural insulation. 

This is the second floor of that huge limestone barn… It is massive and impressive.  The barn cost $15,000 to build back in 1881.  As per the Strong City Independent Newspaper on 12/24/1881, "It will take 5,000 pounds of tin to cover the mammoth barn of S.F. Jones on Fox Creek, and the tinners are laying it on."  The limestone blocks used to build the barn, historic house, and outbuildings weigh over 160 pounds per cubic foot.

Part of the lower level of the barn is built into the hillside.  We didn’t see it but it was used to stable some of the livestock and for storage of saddles and harnesses in the tack room.  It retains many of the original stalls and feed bunks from the 1880s.

Mr. Jones found an abundance of limestone on his property.  As per the 1885 census, he had built over 30 miles of stone fence.

The views are vast indeed… This is truly ‘big sky’ country!

Most settlers judged this almost treeless land to be worthless.  However, some pioneers soon realized the value of the prairie’s rich soil.  Although the Flint Hills were too rocky to plow, settlers discovered its many resources, something long known by American Indians.  For eons, the Flint Hills furnished people with edible and medicinal plants, year-round spring water, stone for tools, weapons, fences and buildings, wind for power, rich bottomland for farming, and lush grasses for grazing. 

This is the Curing House… It was used to cure meat.  Inside there are hooks in the ceiling rafters used for hanging the meat.  A lack of smoke and soot residue in the ceiling and its close proximity to the main house suggests that it wasn't a smoke house.

Butchering usually took place in the fall. Hams and other meats were salted down, wrapped in cheesecloth, and hung on hooks in the ceiling of this building. The three port holes caused air to be drawn in from the outside, forcing the salt to move inward toward the meat's interior.

The home’s Spring Room is located under the Curing House.  It was reached via a tunnel from the house.  Spring water was piped through the kitchen, down the tunnel, and into the spring room where it collected in a trough. The directed and constant flowing cool, underground spring water encircled crocks filled with milk, butter, and cheese, keeping the food at a consistent temperature.  After encircling the room, this "used" spring water exited the spring room via a narrow interior trough and collected in an underground cistern located to the east of the spring room.  (Very innovative!)

This is the family’s outhouse… Stephen Jones sure didn't cut corners on his buildings!  The exterior walls are substantial and beautiful, built with block limestone and keystones with a hammered face and tooled stone edges. The corner stones also have tooled edges.

When I was in the 4th grade we had a 2-seater all brick outhouse at the home we lived in near Jonesville Michigan. (Not great fun in mid-winter!) I must admit that I’ve never seen a3-seater before!

Note that there two adult and one child’s seat.  One purpose for this was biodegradability.  On the adult side as one area filled, lime was used to break down solids.  Meanwhile, the other opening would be utilized until the waste was dissolved.  Of course another reason for 3 seats may have been to provide each individual member of the household, (Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their daughter Loutie), their own personal ‘throne’. 

Winters were colder in the 1800s and rivers would freeze solid.  The Cottonwood River had an ice cutting factory and large blocks of ice were scored and cut by an ice plow, then sold.  Blocks of ice were then carried by wagon to the icehouse for storage.  For insulation against melting, ice was stored between layers of prairie hay and sawdust.

The icehouse was built of native limestone in 1882.  The original doorway was located on the north face of the building.  Placing the entrance on the north side of a building denies sunlight from reaching the ice.  Some icehouses placed the entrance several feet off the ground because the interior cold air, (from the ice), flows downward.  Keeping the entrance to the building near the top of the structure wouldn’t allow the cold air to escape.

You can disregard the old gas pump…but can you guess what this sod covered stone structure was used for back in the 1880s? 

Can you believe that this was the chicken coop…or in this case…house!  The structure was built into the hillside with a barrel arched ceiling that is topped with a sod roof.  The hillside and the roof…as well as the thick limestone walls all served as insulation for Mr. Jones' chickens.  Even in the heaviest rain, the chicken house remained dry and the chickens kept warm.  Ventilation is also important for egg productions, so Mr. Jones provided the chickens with two skylights through the sod!  This was definitely the Cadillac of chicken coops!

This impressive 11-room ‘ranch house’ was completed in 1881.  The Second Empire architecture included practical adaptations to the location and life on the prairie.  Tall opposing windows took advantage of the prevailing summer winds, allowing a cooling draft through the home.  By building the house into the hillside, Mr. Jones took advantage of the earth’s natural insulation to aid in heating and cooling this large structure.

Stephen F. Jones spent the modern equivalent of about $1.9 million building the Spring Hill Ranch complex including the stone fences.  However he only owned the property for 10 years and occupied the limestone ranch house for a mere 5 1/2 years.  The house cost $25,000 to build in early 1880s dollars…
Of course as luck would have it, when we stopped by for a visit the house was closed for repairs…so we didn’t get to see the inside.  It has since been reopened for tours.

Remember David Rettiger who I mentioned in my previous post?  He was the builder of this impressive home.  Rettiger also built the Montezuma Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico in the mid 1880s and in 1871-72, he worked on that impressive Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls Kansas from one of my previous posts. 

The native limestone used in this home building was quarried and dressed at the Rettiger home quarry, north of Strong City.  Individual building stones are square cut on all bearing surfaces and have a rough-hewn face. The stones are all the same size.  The expensive hand-cut stone would be financially impossible to reproduce today.

Just a little south of the Z-Bar Ranch with its big house and barn, you can see the Lower Fox Creek School.   Residents of the Fox Creek area decided in 1878 - 1879 that a school district should be formed for the education of their children.  
The site for the schoolhouse was donated by Stephen F. Jones with the stipulation that the deed would revert back to the ranch owner when the place was no longer used as a school.   Built in 1882, this one-room school provided a setting for educating local area students until 1930, when it was abandoned and then it reverted to the ranch owner.  It is now part of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located on Kansas Hwy. 177 just 2 miles north of Strong City or just 17 miles south of Council Grove.  To learn more, you can go to  Admission is free!

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Exploring Eastern Kansas – Part V

Continuing with our trip…and still exploring Cottonwood Falls Kansas.

Laurie and I both loved this home in Cottonwood Falls!  And no, it isn’t on any lists of historic places or property.  We just thought that it was a great looking stone home with a tin roof…

It appears to be ‘new’ construction.  The chimney is on the end of the house, not in the middle so it isn’t critical for keeping the house warm in the winter.  The structure is sitting on a concrete slab base.  Also, the spigot for the hose is built into the side of the house.  Still, despite its lack of age, it was worthy of our attention!

Time for lunch!

This is the Grand Central Hotel and Grill at 215 Broadway in Cottonwood Falls Kansas.  It was built in 1884 and was completely remodeled in 1995.  It features the original brick walls and stockyard brick flooring.  Note the adjacent outdoor dining area to the right of the building.  This hotel is where the revelers had their big supper when the Cartter Building down the street was inaugurated in 1888. 

Our photo of the dining room in the Grand Central Hotel didn’t come out well so I ‘borrowed’ this picture from the Internet.  The dining room is pleasant and airy with high ceilings and plenty of light.   The Grand Central Hotel is Kansas' only AAA Four Diamond Historic Country Inn/Restaurant…

The Inn itself has 10 guest rooms, all but 1 of which is named after area ranches.  Room rates range from $160.00 to $190.00.  AAA discounts are available.

Laurie ordered the Chicken Salad with pasta salad and fresh seasonal fruit. ($8.50) She enjoyed her lunch but the pasta salad was a little bland for her taste. 

It was Memorial Day when we dined at the Grand Central Hotel.  Either they were short staffed or they hadn’t expected as much business as they had. (Cottonwood Falls is a bit out of the way for ordinary travelers and there aren’t any large cities nearby) One server did most of the running with some support from a manager and perhaps the owner.  It took quite a while to be served and we had another lengthy wait before we got our food…and our check. 

For my lunch, I ordered the 8 oz. Bacon Pepper Jack Burger. ($9.50) It came on a toasted buttered bun…always a positive to me!  This was a good juicy cheeseburger with lots of flavor and I liked the coleslaw as well…

The dinner menu for the Grill at the Grand Central Hotel is quite varied but from everything I read it’s all about the steaks!  The 12 oz. Creekstone Farms “Santa Fe Trail” Ribeye dinner is $27.00. (Creekstone Farms is based in Arkansas City Kansas.  Website:

To learn more about the Grand Central Hotel and Grill, just go to their website at    

From Cottonwood Falls we drove north on Kansas Hwy. 177, passing through Strong City one more time.  The David Rettiger Building isn’t on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s slowly succumbing to the weather and aging.  Laurie and I both took a fancy to the design of the holes for the support timbers…

As these small towns continue their downward trend in population and financial wherewithal, the decline of these old buildings is inevitable.   In 1900, Strong City had a population of 1,128 residents but the estimated population in 2013 is down to 466.

Note: Remember the name, David Rettiger.  He was a major player in the development of the significant historic site featured in my next posting.

This is the Strong City Opera House at 501 Cottonwood Street.  It was built in 1900 and 1901 for the Strong City Musical and Literary Association. Construction funds of $6,000 were raised by the sale of shares at $10 each. (Remember the name on that building I talked about above?  The Rettiger Brothers had the subcontract for the stonework for the Opera House) 

The Opera House’s grand opening was held April 19, 1901, with the entertainment provided by the Modoc Club, (then a nationally known men’s chorus), and Marshall's Civic Band from Topeka. (The band still exists today.  It’s been performing ever since 1884!) The Santa Fe Railroad even offered special fares from Abilene and Topeka for people who wanted to attend this big event!

Strong City was a happening place back around the turn of the 20th Century.  As per William G. Cutler’s “History of the State of Kansas”, the town had “a bank, a city hall and D. C. Webb's famous store.  S. F. Jones is President and E. A. Hildebrand is Cashier of the Strong City bank, which has a capital of $100,000.  The town has three general stores, three groceries, an extensive hardware store, a druggist, two physicians, two attorneys, two shoemakers, a livery, feed and sale stable, a milliner, a blacksmith, an auctioneer, a drayman, a carpenter and builder, a meat market, a well-driller, a tobacconist, keeper of a hotel and a restaurant.”  There was even a horse-drawn trolley that operated from Cottonwood Falls to Strong City!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave