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


  1. Dave,
    I just ran across this series of blog posts from a visit you made to East Central Kansas and my hometown, Strong City in 2015.

    I am a great granddaughter of David Rettiger, whom you noted was a major player in the limestone industry of Kansas nearing the turn of the century. He invented and patented a steam-powered stone cutting machine ( and was also known for constructing several other native limestone structures in our county, state, and other areas of the country. One of my personal favorites is the historic limestone barn at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve ( I thought you might also be interested to know that our immediate family has since acquired the David Rettiger Building, repaired the failing roof to ensure it stays around for many more years, and have plans to renovate and put it to use again -- making it something more reflective of the influential and innovative man David Rettiger was.

    Anyway, thanks for the David Rettiger acknowledgment in your blog post and for sharing your travels around the beautiful Flint Hills region of Kansas.

    Check out our Strong City Preservation Alliance and Flint Hills National Scenic Byway Facebook pages to keep up on preservation projects and community events if you have a chance: and

    Elena Rettiger-Lincoln

  2. Elena, Thanks for your comments and input. It's terrific news any time that an historic and interesting old structure is rescued and will be preserved and used into the future. Actions like this can spur similar renovation efforts in a town. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  3. I totally agree with you. And I was very pleased with that. Awesome features and facts.. :) Tree Trimming Service Grand Prairie Kansas