Friday, November 30, 2007

Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. holds Retreat

The Officers and Board of the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. held a planning retreat at the Grand Central Hotel and Grill in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

All those able to attend had a great meeting and enjoyed the Grand Grill Menu for lunch.

Thanks to Suzan and staff for a great retreat setting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pottawatomie County Tourism Developments

Below I am sharing a letter from Pottawatomie County, that may be of interest:

Thought you might like to know the status of three tourism/quality of life projects we've been working on here for some time:

1. Heritage Tourism Project - Self-Guided Tours; St Marys, Oregon Trail, Westmoreland: We had considerable historic research done by Dale Nimz (the same historian who researched and wrote the feasibility study for the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area) on the most important historic personalities and events associated with our "early exploration, territorial and early settlement" history. Some of the research was then used to create the first three of approximatly 25 interpretive and directional signs to be placed in the downtowns of St Marys and Westmoreland and along the old Oregon Trail in between the two. Our first 3 interpretive signs were designed by Don and Susan Traub, , have been approved by the local design committee, have been approved for payment by teh county commission and are currently being manufactured. They will be placed in downtown St Marys, at the Old Louis Vieux Elm site on the trail, and in downtown Westmoreland.

Preliminary conceptual design has begun on teh other 18 or so, and we are applying for a Ks Humanities grant to finish them. If we are successful - I would expect that a high quality self - guided heritage walking/driving tour of the old Oregon Trail in Pottawatomie County to be in place within a year or so.

2. Recreational Trail Project - The first segment of the proposed "WAMSAGMAN" (Wamego - St George - Manhattan) trail route has been scoped on public land roughly paralleling the Old Military Trail Road, and preliminary design and cost estimates have been prepared by LandPlan Engineering of Lawrence, Kansas. The route has been officially dedicated by our county commission, for a period of 99 years, for the 7.3+ miles between Wamego and St George, . In addition, the county has applied for TEA-21 funds to finance completion of the the first 1. 5 - 2. miles of the trail. In the meantime, volunteers are searching for a "pro bono" surveyor to go ahead with survey and staking of the route, while a fairly prominent group of interested enthusiasts is working up an organized capital campaign. Whether we get the grant or not - some work will be done on the trail this coming spring, and once people actually start using it - we fully expect additional sections to be opened, even if in a temporarily somewhat "primitive" state, over the next year.

3. Recreational River Landing at Wamego: This project is one of several projects being undertaken up and down the Kansas River to make it accessible as a recreational corridor throughout its length from Junction City to Kansas City. Recent landings have already been built at St George, LeCompton, DeSoto, the Highway 177 bridge south of Manhattan, and Edwardsville. Others now in proces include ours in Wamego and another at about the juncture of the Smoky Hill and Republican near Junction City. Ultimately there will be a landing about every 10 miles along the length of the river. Final Engineering and Permitting for our river landing project was completed last summer. The site has been surveyed and staked. Ebert Construction has moved its bulldozer backhoe, and dump truck to the site. Bayer Construction has donated the rock and gravel. Construction Inc., will pour the concrete ramp, City crews will operate the equipment, Mike Calwell, Friends of the Kaw, will provide technical assistance. Volunteers will assist. This project is funded by $22,000 from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and $10,000 from the City of Wamego. Construction will begin next Monday and continue until it is completed. The project is immediately west of the Kansas River Bridge at Wamego. It includes a 20 foot wide boat landing ramp, turnaround area, parking, bathroom facility, and a small park, with a few camp sites and picnic tables.

So - things are moving along finally - after years of preparation, scoping and design work, fund raising, etc.

Once finished - these assets will add to the attractiveness and usability of our immediate area for hikers, walkers, roller bladers, bicyclists, canoeists, kayakers and river runners alike. While the self-guided tour will add to the attractions available to Heritage Travelers.

Lots of fun finally seeing some closure on these long-duration projects. Hopefully we'll hit the tipping point in the minds of our public and our elected officials before long and futher developments will really take off. Adding to the value of the Flint Hills as a destination.


Bob Cole

Bob Cole
Robert L. Cole
Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Calendar for Council Grove - Kansas Flint Hills

Saturday evening, December 1: Winter Wonderland Talent Show at 7 o'clock at the High School Auditorium exhibiting the best of local talents for all to enjoy. Visit local merchants for Weekend Gift Bag Drawing. Visit Santa at his Cottage on Main Street.
Thursday evening, December 6: A Kaw Mission Christmas - experience a Christmas season evening like early settlers enjoyed in the mid-1850s at the historic Kaw Mission. Enjoy vintage food and entertainment at 6:30 in an historic environment.
Saturday, December 8: Holiday Bake-Off where local amateur bakers fix and display their holiday fares for judging. After these exquisite baked goods are judged they will be sold to the general public at 2 o'clock. Enter your favorite holiday baked goods or purchase and sample some of the best from the local community. Visit local merchants for another Weekend Gift Bag Drawing.
Saturday, December 15: Visit with Santa and shop local stores to participate in the Stamped-Coupon Drawing
Saturday, December 22: Mrs. Claus' Sidewalk Bake Sale - stock up on Christmas Holiday goodies made by members of Morris County Community organizations
For more information, check the website or phone the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office at 800-732-9211-

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Flint Hills Tourism Coalition meets in Abilene

The monthly meeting of the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. <> was held in Abiliene at the Old Depot:

The group was welcomed by the Mayor Leyerzapf (far right):

The featured speaker of the day was Dick Carter of TIAK, Travel Industry of Kansas executive director, sharing with the group the latest informtion on KTI (the Kansas Travel Initiative).

For more information on KTI, check out their website at <>; registration required, but interested persons are welcome to register.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chase County Country Christmas Announcment

This is the press release from the Chase County Chamber of Commerce:
COTTONWOOD FALLS - It will be a cowboy Christmas in Chase County during this year’s Chase County Country Christmas.

“Chase C unty has been described as the place where the West truly begins,” said Deb Zeiner, director of the Chase County Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of Country Christmas. “We couldn’t think of a better way to honor our Western heritage than by having a Cowboy Country Christmas.”

Several new activities have been planned around the Cowboy Christmas theme, Zeiner said, including a cowboy-themed coloring contest, sponsored by Strong City Pizza Hut; Little Miss Cowboy Christmas contest; Meet a Cowboy with local cowboy Bruce Brock demonstrating rope tricks and leather-working; an ugly cowboy boot and hat contest; a Touch the Tack table, where children can touch a saddle, bridle and brushes used in caring for a horse; and a Blessing of the Animals at 10:30 a.m. in Swope Park in Cottonwood Falls.

“I think the Blessing of the Animals is a sweet idea,” Zeiner said. “After all, Jesus was born in a barn. I just see this as a way to acknowledge the love we have for the furry, or scaly, friends in our lives.”

Another new activity will be the first-ever Fabulous Fruitcake Toss, at the Millstream Motel in Cottonwood Falls.

“We’ll have a fruitcake toss set up for children,” said Richard Clute, co-owner of the Millstream. “And a fruitcake launch for adults. We’re going to see if we can launch them across the river. But if we don’t make it, the fish and ducks will have a special treat!”

From 2 - 5 p.m., the 2007 Holiday Homes Tour will showcase four spectacular Chase County locations - the historic Duehn Ranch home of Josh and Gwen Hoy at the Flying W Ranch near Clements, west of Strong City; the newly-restored St. Anthony Church at Strong City, a Western-themed home high on a hill east of Strong City and the historic Pioneer Bluffs homestead at Matfield Green. Admission to the Homes Tour is just a $5 donation that includes admission to all four locations.

“These are absolutely spectacular places on the tour this year,” Zeiner said. “They include glimpses in to the large ranch homes of our Chase County founders, an absolutely beautiful gem of a church and a home that you might call a cowboy’s palace!”

In the past, Country Christmas has included a dance at the Community Building in Cottonwood Falls at the end of the day of events. But this year, there will be a contra dance on Friday, Nov. 23 from 8-10 p.m. at the Community Building instead.

“We thought it would be more fun to have the dance on Friday night, while we still have some energy left,” said Chamber president Kevin Ireland. “The dance is free and everyone is invited.”

At 4:45 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by carriage in downtown Cottonwood Falls, where they will visit with children until 7 p.m.

“At 7 p.m., we’ll light the courthouse and this year we’re also lighting the newly-restored Cottonwood River Bridge,” Zeiner said. “It’s going to be beautiful. And after all of that, we’ll end the day with the Christmas carol singalong at the Prairie Coffee Company.”

There are many more activities scheduled for the 2007 Chase County Cowboy Christmas and local businesses will be open extended hours that day. For a complete schedule, see or contact the Chase County Chamber of Commerce at (620) 273-8469.


Hope some of my readers can take part - Enjoy! Share your experience with a comment here!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Kansas Flint Hills Monument Dedication

The four Kansas Flint Hills Monuments on I-70 (Junc City and West of Topeka) and I-35 (S. of Emporia and Cassoday) were dedicated this morning at a ceremony at the Konza Prairie Overlook Park on K 177 north of I-70 (where there was safe parking for all participants!).

[Sept 21 photo of monument southbound I-35, marker 119]

The Mill Creek Middle School singers opened the program:

Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller opened the program by discussing the partnerships behind the Kansas Flint Hills Monuments project and a little history. Carried out by Scott Shields and his team at the DOT, input was critical from the Kansas Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Division and the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc., a 22-county coalition stretching from the Nebraska border in the north to the Oklahoma border in the south. A mock-up of the monuments fit the program perfectly, representing each of the 30 ton monuments strategically placed on the Interstate Highways to remind tourists that they are in the Kansas Flint Hills - a premier tourism destination in America.

Kansas Secretary of Commerce David Kerr summarized the history of the Travel and Tourism Division, Becky Blake, Director, partnership with the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. and the joint accomplishments to date, including the distinctive logo and the Traveling Exhibit based on the National Geographic magazine 22-page spread of Jim Richardson photographs of the Kansas Flint Hills.

Linda Craghead, Executive Director, Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc., spoke of the history of the coalition, including the Fermata, Inc. strategic plan that has guided priorities the past couple of years. Looking to the future, the strategic plan urges the Coalition to continue to pursue National Heritage Area designation while building recognition of the Kansas Flint Hills as a tourism destination as part of the the overall Kansas Tourism Initiative.

Mill Creek singers closed the program with a fine rendition of "Home on the Range" - the state song.

Members of Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. were among those in attendance at the dedication.

See news coverage:
Topeka NBC

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kansas Flint Hills - Matfield Green Service Center - I-35

Retuning to Emporia from a meeting in Wichita, I finally took the time to read and photograph the signs at the Matfield Green Service Center on I-35, in the heart of the Kansas Flint Hills.

This shows the vastness of the nearby prairie, entering the winter dormant season.

The Historical Marker is most descriptive of the ranching impact in the area:

[Double click the photo for a larger image]

Also of interest is an "earth, wind, water, fire" sign (the prairie burning is a distinctive characteristic of this part of America!):

Some say this is the "real cowboy country" - there are certainly still many cowboys doing the same tasks they did one hundred and fifty years ago, on the very same ranch lands.

Some unexpected recognitions are also interesting to see - The Purple Heart Train in Kansas:

This rest stop sits on the 38th Parallel! The same one that separates North and South Korea!!

And, finally, the Knute Rockne memorial inside the Service Center, not unexpected.
His plane crashed nearby, and many folks from around the country pilgrimage here each year!

Kansas, and especially the Flint Hills, are filled with fascinating things to see and hear. Check out the links, on the right, below, if you haven't already. Enjoy!