Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014-23 Hiawatha and Manhattan Kansas


Missouri (just a little corner of the state)

Kansas, Hiawatha
Kansas, Manhattan

Kansas prairie landscape

Campground:  Big Lake State Park, Craig Missouri.  $19 w senior discount.  Electric 30amp.  Water and dump station available.  Nice shower room and laundry room.  Good for a night or two, not a location for longer stays.  Summer heat and humidity being one factor.

Big Lake State Park, but not really a big lake at all

cabins across the lake from the state park

Campground find:  White Cloud Casino.  I discovered this little casino in the NE corner of Kansas.  They have full-hookup RV sites in the back of the casino for $5 a night, no limit.  Half off lunch buffet on Mondays and Thursdays: $5 and they gave me $30 in casino play money when I signed up for their players card.  I left with $20 more in my pocket.  Basic casino campsites, but in a quiet area behind the casino.

Campground:  Tuttle Cove, CORP park.  Manhattan Kansas.  $9.00 senior rate.  50amp elect and water. On  beautiful large Creek Lake.

Tuttle Cove

Iowa to Kansas map

Distance traveled:  189 miles
Big Lake, Missouri

I really enjoyed the drive along Iowa 2 a well maintained two lane country road with nice wide gravel skirting.  Very light traffic as well.  Now heading south into Missouri on county road 59 was another matter. Narrow and some real roller coaster type hill and valley driving.  You know, the kind that you can’t see what’s coming ahead over the hill.  Very light traffic made for easy going.  Down a few more back roads and here I am at Big Lake st pk.  Looks like the lake can go over it’s banks and many of the homes are raised up on stilts.  Later I found out the Missouri River overflowed it’s banks over 4 feet back in June of 2011, flooding all of the Big Lake State Park and surrounding area.   It’s called an Ox Bow lake, once connected to the Missouri River it is now separate from the river and includes a good sized wetland area.

The campground has maybe 8 campers mid-week, most of us coming in during the day and leaving the following day.  I should probably point out that I’m following in the footsteps of Louis and Clark, as they landed here on their way out west as well as on their return trip.  Noting the Ox Bow bend and the island across from the campground I’m staying at.  I think I have it a bit easier than they did on their journey out west.

The Davis Memorial, Hiawatha Kansas.

The next day I begin my adventure early in the morning.  Heading out, using my GPS for directions from my Missouri campsite, I cross over the Missouri River and  Ta-Da, I’m in Nebraska.   My GPS guides me through some back streets of a old abandoned river town and onto a paved country road with no center line, or any lines to speak of at all.  Less than a mile down the road and I’m in Kansas.  Three states in less than 20 minutes.  Down miles of country lanes traveling through thousands of acres of mega farms.  I’m heading to Hiawatha Kansas where a most unusual memorial has been constructed.  It’s was a finalist for the list of 8 wonders of Kansas.  

It’s another cemetery oddity.  John Davis came to the Hiawatha area as an orphan in 1878 and began working on the farm of the Hart family.  He fell in love the daughter, Sarah.  The family was outraged that a simple work hand would dare to marry their daughter.  They disinherited her.

Sarah’s parents were even more upset when, over the next 28 years, John was able to purchase two of the best tracts of farmland in the area, becoming quite wealthy.  After 70 years of marriage,  Sarah passed away.  Having no children, John was not going to leave any of the money to be inherited by Sarah’s family.  He quickly began plans to build a monument to his love of Sarah and his grief over her death.

A large stone canopy was built over the grave site.  It weighs 52 tons. Eventually over the years, as Italian artists completed each of the statues, they were installed on site providing a glimpse of the couple through the years from first being married and through old age and finally John seated next to any empty chair.  All this cost over two hundred thousand dollars during the great depression.

Sarah’s family never like John after he married their daughter and now the little town of Hiawatha was up in arms that John was wasting all his money on a memorial to his wife when they thought he should spend it on the them.  The town needed a hospital and wanted a swimming pool and felt John should donate to building those much more worthwhile projects.  John said in later years, they all hated me, so why should I spend my money on them.  I spent it the way I pleased.

Was he a cheap skate for not helping the town out?  It was revealed later on that he spent thousands of dollars helping out the poor in the community with gifts of a couple hundred dollars at a time.  Helping those in need, but never advertising it.

In an odd way, he has helped the community out today as between 10 and 20 thousand visitors come to the community to visit the site each year.  Spending time and money in the area and wondering about the true motivations behind building this memorial.

Now that’s an adventure you won’t find driving down along the interstate highways of our country.  You’ve got to get off the main roads and get on down those country lanes to find places like this.  I even saw a fox on my return route to the campground.  Pretty cool.

it's the story of a young orphan living the American Dream

it's a love story

young Sarah

young John

Missing someone so much you make a monument to her, or
not wanting the relatives to inherit your money....

Distant Traveled:  124 miles
Manhattan Kansas

Had to take a detour which took a bit longer, but I still got to the campsite by noon.  And boy is it hot.  93 degrees today and fortunately I have 50 amp service so I have both a/c units running and keeping the camper perfectly cool.  Even with the heat, I can tell the area is gorgeous.  More hills, many completely covered in cedar trees.

Wamego Kansas

Arriving in Kansas, one would expect to come across something to do with the Wizard of Oz.  After all, Dorothy was from Kansas.  Not far from the town of Manhattan, also called the little apple, is another town by the name of Wamego where I found the Oz museum.  It was created from a private local resident’s collection of Wizard of Oz memorabilia.  Some of which was first exhibited in 1995, eventually leading to the formation of the museum which opened in 2004.

a true classic, The Wizard of Oz

The collection centers around the author of the Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum.  Frank wrote a number of other Oz books that number over 40 in total.  Who knew?  There are also a number of great video’s to watch on the creation of the movie which I found fascinating.  It was one of the first films to be filmed in Technicolor a process that required four reels of film to record the action in unison.  One recording in black and white, one in green, red, and yellow if I understand the process correctly.  The camera was huge and required many more lights to illuminate the brightly colored sets.  During filming, they went through 4 directors.  The first one had his work completely scrapped before filming began again from the start.  Shirley Temple and the east coast business folks wanted her to play the part of Dorothy.  Fortunately, Judy Garland won out.

So many interesting stories about this 100 year old classic.  Imagine.  It was written 100 years ago.  And the movie came out in 1939.  Not an easy time for any film to open.  The depression was still going on and WWII was about to begin.  If you go, I recommend watching each of the video presentations to get your full Oz on.  This is history in it’s most intriguing and entertaining tailored suit.  Learning should always fit so well.

some of the books written in the Oz series

I've provided links to his other books

one of the many in a series of Oz books

so many items created for sale after the movie opened

Judy Garland

the 4th and last director to finish the Wizard of Oz

this is how the tornado was created for the movie

was briefly in the movie, before dropping out

one of the toys, a flying monkey

Glinda the good Witch

Over the weekend, I drove down to the Konza Prairie to have a good look at what an original prairie looks like.  This is a research center and is part of the Kansas State University.  I’m hoping to see a few more prairie preserves over the next couple of weeks.

love the big open spaces

stunning prairie landscapes

a close up of the tall prairie grasses

Till my next rambling report, enjoy your travels around the country.

many more photos on PICASA

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