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


  1. In these I love especially the first pictures, love this old building David:)))

  2. I need to go back and catch up with your Kansas travels. My great grandparents on my father's side came to Kansas from Berlin as newlyweds right after the American Civil War and settled in Great Bend. My grandfather grew up there. I would love to go one day and see their old Victorian home & where their dry goods store was. You guys do a really great job with your photos. I was very nice to see you both the other day at Larry's.