Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ag Hall of Fame and US Hwy 24 – 2nd of 3 parts

We ended last time as I approached US Hwy 24, and was reminded I had never visited The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame. I had seen signs for it along I-70 so many times! It was just east of the intersection, so I decided to make a visit.

The first surprise was to realize the Renaissance Festival site is right there, as well. Turning south off US 24, it was just a short distance, past more Festival site, to the Hall.

The first thing you see is this mural/sculpture – the National Farmers Memorial:

Behind the memorial is The National Agriculture Center and Hall of Fame:

The left wing has the Hall of Fame, the right wing (in this view) is an auditorium with the Ag Broadcasters Hall of Fame on the walls, and a gift shop in the center (along with offices). BEHIND the building are other buildings (see below) and a large open space. To the right, from the building above, are two fields, one full of “honors placques” and the other with telephone poles where they conduct national “line man” competitions.

The Ag Hall of Fame has many notables from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Norman Borlaug ( and Bob Dole ( I was also please to Roswell Garst ( – he was from Coon Rapids, Iowa, my home town!

In the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, I recognized both Herb Plambeck and Keith Kirkpatrick, central Iowa farm broadcasters as I was growing up on the farm and at Iowa State Universty!

I enjoyed this photo on the wall as I was going out back to look around:

And, this blacksmith shop is recreated out back!

Here is the view, right of center, out the back door:

The blacksmith shop, by the way, is the grey building right in the center, behind the green machine… ;-) The farmhouse is on the right, of course.

Before we go out into a couple of these building, we will explore the large building to the left, not in the photo above.

This building houses the larger machinery.

One example of a tractor – 1924 Farmall Regular:

Over in the Blacksmith shop (the better photo didn’t come out!)

And, in the one-room school, much like I went to through 7th grade in Iowa.

And just one of several from the house… note the throw rug.

A very nice visit… but - as we always say in my family - Save something for next time! was time to get back on US Hwy 24 and head west!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Leavenworth and US Hwy 24 – 1st of 3 parts

Saturday I dropped by wife off at the Kansas City airport at 8 a.m. (so she could fly to Austin to visit our grandson and help them move to their new house – I’ll drive down next weekend, for a week of vacation through Labor Day!) With nothing else on my schedule, I decided this was a good day to visit Leavenworth and drive across US Hwy 24 that parallels I-70, rather than rushing home to Emporia!

I’ll share the eastern part of the trip today and in the next entry, and get to the Flint Hills portion in the following entry. ;-)

We have lived in Kansas for over thirteen years now, and have not yet visited Leavenworth… Time was up! Up to Platte City I went, from the airport and caught highway 92 – same number in MO and KS! Across the impressive Missouri river bridge, and I was in Leavenworth, with the Army base on my immediate right. I made the right turn into the base, but… the entrance was intimidating… one car was being searched in the right hand lane… and four were waiting to go in the gate.

I spotted the turn around opening, and exited the base, took a right, and continued west, to see if the historical sites I wanted to see were out there, or, if I needed to go on the base. Shortly, I was driving past the U.S. Penitentiary… now, THAT is intimidating!!!

I turned around, and decided to go into the Army base. The guard at the gate confirmed I did need to enter to see the historic sites – I had noticed he was checking in ID cards, in the cars ahead – so, I was not surprised at the next thing he said: “You need to have your car inspected to enter the base.” Therefore, I got to swing around, the other way, through that turn around, and get in the far right hand lane, to be inspected: driver’s license first, then, I was “requested” to open all the openings on the car – all four doors, trunk and hood! Really reminded me of those days, long ago, when I went through ROTC summer camp and three years of active duty – in the Air Force; I was in the Army, now!

They kindly gave me, upon my request, the sheet of paper with the driving tour. I pulled in on the left, in a bit, where the sign said: “Welcome Center” – though it wasn’t on the map. Walking into the building, it was obvious this was the lobby of a “hotel” like building – with visiting officers sitting reading their newspapers and continental breakfast off the lobby. Acting like I knew clearly where I was going, I made my restroom visit and exited quietly, picking up a couple of information pieces from the displays on my way out.

A little further, per map, I came to the first site of interest, the Buffalo Soldier Monument.

Colin Powell narrated the story at the pedestal on the right, above.

I really like the statue at the far end:

There were informative interpretive signs up and back as I walked around the memorial.

Further up the road, a right, and near the end of that road, I got to see the U.S. Army Command and Staff College. For any military person, this is the ultimate training site. I stood there, just imagining the long, long line of well-known military leaders who have walked in and out of the building and on these grounds, over many, many years!

At the end of that road, and to the left, just a bit, the Mighty Missouri River – the Gateway to the West - appeared on the right:

The plaque is of Lewis and Clark, camping on that island in the river, 200 years ago – a great drawing, and fascinating to compare…

Right behind here, is a row of officer housing:

Again, I pondered the long string of career military officers, notables from WWI, WWII and all other conflicts that have lived in these houses – they all came through here!

As I turned back toward the main road, I got my one disappointment from the brief visit – it was just 9 a.m. and the Frontier Army Museum doesn’t open until 10 a.m. on Saturday!

In our family, we always say on vacation visits: “Save something for the next time!” Well, we’ll come back and visit the Frontier Army Museum, and perhaps some of the other Wayside 16 on the list they gave me!

Out of the base, I headed south on K-7 through Leavenworth, the city. I was curious to see their “Preserve America” signage – they are the only Kansas city, so far, to earn the designation – there is was, along the right side of the road.

As a tourism guy, I was both impressed and disappointed in the “welcome” building, near the sign. The little building actually had public restrooms, but the brochure display was very disappointing… had a few B&Bs, and real estate ads – but NO Leavenworth brochures!! Unbelievable!

Following K-7 highway directly south for several miles, I approached US Hwy 24, and was reminded I had never visited The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame that I had seen signs for along I-70 so many times! It was just east of the intersection, so I decided to make a visit – but more on that in the next entry!