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Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Sites, Kanopolis, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 9:55 am

Kanopolis Reservoir, State Park, and Wildlife Area

Kansas’ first state park, with towering Dakota sandstone bluffs.

From the towering Dakota sandstone bluffs to the caves and crevices of Horsethief Canyon, the park and surrounding area offer rugged beauty. The park is split into two areas north and south of the dam. A marina, beaches, picnic areas, full-service camping areas, volleyball courts, and softball diamond make the area an all-round recreation spot. Horsethief Canyon, offers 26 miles of trails for hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists. The 3,500 acre lake and 12,500 acre wildlife area provide anglers and hunters abundant fish and game. Nestled near the Smoky Hill River toward the northwest portion of the wildlife area is Faris Caves, which were carved by early pioneers and served as milkhouse, school house, and living quarters.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Sites, Area Sites — Peg Britton @ 3:42 pm


Posted today on the Thompson Creek article:
A recently published book SERENIA’S KANZAS at most book stores and AMAZON gives more details to this settlement on Thompson Creek.  As their direct descendant I inherited photographs and letters from them at this time in history (Civil War and soon thereafter) and taking ‘Poetic License’ with their dialogue developed the rest of the story of the Johnsons and Campbells.

The sequel ANNE should be published by Christmas 2011.

Kathleen Boston McCune

You can read the Thompson Creek story here…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 2:40 pm


The old insurance building…the Ellsworth landmark, has taken on a new look. This is what the restoration group felt the building looked like when it was constructed which is a marvelous upgrade from the dilapidated building we inherited.  There were stairs up the front and other details, but for the most part, the outside appears very much the same.  The roof has been repaired and and the building is structurally sound once again.

What we need now are donations to help restore the inside of the building.  That will be the next phase of the project.  It is a slow process but the board is committed to  its completion.  Donations may be made to the National Drovers National Hall of Fame and sent to Mark Roehrman, president, 210 N. Douglas, Ellsworth KS 67439.

For more information, check the Drovers website here.  This is a not for profit project and built entirely with donations and fund-raising projects.  We’d appreciate your help.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 4:20 pm


The new Ellsworth Arts Council location is sandwiched between Lux Interiors and Peterson and Kasper Attorneys in downtown Ellsworth.  The building was formerly the office of Dr. Kurt Williams who exchanged buildings with the Council so that he could have additional space for his new Dental Medical Arts building.

The move from the old building to the new location occurred in December 2007 and January 2008.  Equipment and art work were stored in a storage room in the rear of the building until a few months ago when the building underwent major interior renovation.  Mark Roehrman removed most of the interior walls and made repairs where necessary.

Following the construction phase, the clean-up began in January and was completed this month.  The Council hosted an open house last night.


Ellsworth County has had three Governor’s Artists.  Those named were Kepka Belton, Charles Rogers and Vernon Brejcha.


Student Art Month opened March 2nd and will end March 31st. This showing features the work of students in K-12 from Ellsworth, Wilson and Quivira Heights. Art displays will rotate monthly.


EHS art teacher, Holly Savage (center), chats with gallery volunteers Ken McHenry and Meredith Vargo. Anyone interested in beginning carving instruction at the gallery should contact Ken  at 472.3848.  Classes will be held whenever the new group of carvers would like to meet.  Annette Bourne will also be giving instruction in stained glass construction.


Artistic talent is found in all age groups.


Watch for the announcement of a guitar concert that will be held soon at the Gallery.


This acrylic drawing was done by Cade Cranston, EHS student.  The mystery artist of the graphic pencil drawing in my posting March 6th was Ryan Manes.


Classes in water color, oil and acrylic will be taught as instructors become available.  The gallery will also join art groups in surrounding communities for art displays and exchanges.

The gallery is operated by volunteers.  Please contact Meredith Vargo at 472.4908 if you would be willing to contibute one afternoon a month to help with the success of this effort. The gallery is open from 12:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday and at other times by appointment.

The Council is composed of volunteers. Officers are:  Annette Bourne,president; Steve Steinhouse, treasurer; Meredith Vargo, treasurer.  Other board members are:  Beverly Connally, Robert Rogers, David Driscoll, Agnes Kepka, Ken McHenry and Lois Wenz.



Filed under: prairie musings, Eat, Ellsworth Sites, Deli — Peg Britton @ 10:21 am


This photo is by Michael O’Conner.  It shows the detail of the wall mural painted by Rene Pennington that is in the Ellsworth Antique Mall. It’s located in Maypo’s Deli which is opposite the mural.  Isn’t it a dandy?  He must have taken this after closing as the tables in the Deli are usually filled with people who are enjoying the wide assortment of deli sandwiches, soups and homemade ice cream.

Changes are always happening in the Antique Mall.  Stop by and take a look.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 5:36 pm


You remember what this building looked like before the restoration began.  Look at it now.  What a transformation.  When you enter downtown Ellsworth,  this no longer stands out like a sore thumb….it’s a beautiful building and the single landmark that identifies Ellsworth as being different from any other town in Kansas.

Now, all we need is money to complete the restoration.  Any donation is welcome and can be sent to the president of the Drovers Foundation, Mark Roehrman at 210 North Douglas Ave., Ellsworth KS 67439.  If you want to contact Mark, his number is 785.472.4659.

Being chilled to the bone most of the winter finally got tiresome so I kicked up the furnace today to 68 and Ally built a fire for me.  Now the living room is very comfortable.  It’s snowing and 14 degrees outside.  After getting my teeth cleaned and checked, picking up the mail and “hitting” the bank, Ally and I met for lunch at Paden’s then called it a day.  I’m holed in and not venturing outside again….except for maybe some wood for the fire.


Yesterday a large flock of “flittery” birds were around our house.  Every time I’d get close enough to get a good picture, they’d flit away. Some hung around for the picture so you can get the idea.  I’m not sure what kind they were, but they were same as you see in large flocks out in fields gobbling seeds and never staying put…up and down, up and down. One flies away and the rest follow.  By the time the last one lands, they’re taking off again.  You’re inclined to tell them to slow down and enjoy the day.

Check here for the “hottest” politicians in Kansas. Guess who?



Hits are going crazy again this month…715,118 so far.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 7:39 pm



Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 7:38 pm

The 1873 Ellsworth County Jail is on the Kansas Historical Register.

October 11, 2003:

The Ellsworth County Jail of 1873 is associated with events that made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of Ellsworth County history. Though now a ruin, it symbolizes the coming of law and order to the Old West. Ellsworth has one of the great histories of a rough and tumble cattle town and this Jail of 1873 is an authentic Old West relic. Its preservation is an important reminder of the few tumultuous years that Ellsworth served as the terminus for the Texas cattle trade. In addition, the colorful, violent time of the mid-19th Century cattle town was a reflection of the political and social atmosphere of the state of Kansas and was an important part of the story of the western expansion of the nation.

From the founding of Ellsworth in 1867, the City was filled with a heterogeneous collection of teamsters, railroad workers, army scouts and soldiers from Fort Harker and the usual disreputable hangers-on-itinerant liquor dealers, gamblers and prostitutes. Gun battles were common and hangings were frequent.

It was as lurid as any early western town. In fact, Ellsworth had the reputation of being the rip-roaringest toughest settlement on the entire frontier. During the early years, cattle town people tended to be lenient toward perpetrators of violence. The motive for the leniency came from a need to retain the good will and trade of the cattle town visitors. At the same time, farmers (who were in the minority) wanted to put out crops and build fences neither favorable to the cattle trade. There was a rather fierce battle between these two groups.

By the summer of 1873, the town leaders realized they had more problems that could be handled as they had been. Ellsworth had growing numbers of prostitutes and twenty saloons and gambling houses. There were growing problems between cattlemen and farmers of the county. The County Commission had been discussing the possibility of a jail but just did not get around to acting on it.

In August of 1873, the town s sheriff, C. B. Whitney, was gunned down. This incident became the catalyst for people of Ellsworth County to decide that law and order had to be maintained. Col. Henry Inman designed a new jail and Kinear and Kendall built it at a price of $4,600. A dance was held for the dedication on March 5, 1874.

By 1874, the cattle trade moved on to Wichita and Dodge City, the Herd Law was passed to prevent cattle from coming into the county and immigrants began turning to farming and building of fences. The taming of one of the wildest towns in the west had begun.

The 130th Anniversary and Rededication Ceremony program for the 1873 Jail held October 11, 2003, Ellsworth.


Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 7:37 pm

A half block east of North Main Street on Court St., close to the fire station This is the oldest building in Ellsworth. The early jails in Ellsworth were cage-like temporary structures. Occasionally, prisoners were housed in private homes.


This jail pictured above was authorized on April 2 1872 for $12,000 with the lower floor designated as the jail and the upper floor to be used as court rooms. The structure was of limestone construction, 36 by 50 feet. Efforts have been made to restore this structure, but money has just not been forthcoming for such a major project. It has been in a derelict state for many years.

An effort was made by an investor in Harrisburg PA to buy it and move it stone by stone and restore it. It is now in the hands of the Ellsworth Historical Society and their hope is to restore to its original state sometime in the future. It is part of our heritage and very much a part of the history of Ellsworth.


Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 7:34 pm

Ellsworth Hodgden House Museum Complex
104 W. Main
Hodgden House Museum web site

The Hodgden House Museum Complex is located at the south end of the Ellsworth business district just across the railroad tracks.

The Hodgden house was built in 1877 by Perry Hodgden, a very influential resident in the development of Ellsworth. His was the first private home to be built of stone after the fires of 1874 and 1876 consumed most of the buildings and residences on north and south Main Streets comprising the heart of the town.


In 1961 the house was once again restored to its original elegance. The Ellsworth Historical Society established a museum on the site in 1963 and has continued to make acquisitions and enlarge their exhibits since that time. The house is filled with artifacts from those early days. You can tour the livery stable ca. 1877 and a 1912 one-room school house. There is an 1880 church and a small log cabin. A modern building houses the general store exhibit and farm equipment. There is a 1911 caboose, turn of the century wooden windmill, and a 160 year old Dominion piano. They also have books on Ellsworth history and other noteworthy items of interest. The Terra Cotta Depot stands across the street and is in the process of being restored.


Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 7:31 pm

Ellsworth occupies a unique position in the history of the Old West. It is one of only a few Kansas towns that became known as the end of the trail for the Texas cowboys and their wild Texas Longhorn cattle.

The era occupied a short span of history from 1867 until 1885, just under 20 years. Ellsworth served as a cattle depot or railhead for seven of those years from 1868 until 1875. The largest amount of trade occurred during the years of 1872 to 1874.

Ellsworth s original cattle town business district was burned in several fires during the mid to late 1870 s. Despite these tragedies, several of the buildings of that era have survived and the area remains largely undisturbed by development.

Ellsworth was typical of the frontier towns built along the tracks of the Kansas Pacific Railway as it inched its way across Kansas. The plaza was a common area on either side of the tracks which accommodated freight hauling teams, family buggies and foot traffic. As folks met on their way to shop and frequent the saloons, the plaza soon became the social and business gathering place for people within the community. The setting is one familiar to western movie viewers.


The railroad track and a wide expanse of right-of-way were bound by city streets known even to this day as North Main and South Main. Gambling houses and drinking parlors, as well as all the businesses required for the survival of a frontier town. lined these two streets. This area was witness to hundreds of thousands of cattle driven to the stockyards Gunfights were commonly associated with activity on the Plaza. At one time there was a stampede of buffalo through the plaza. Most of the wild west cattle town history of Ellsworth is contained within these few blocks.

Unlike many other towns that once contained railroad plazas, Ellsworth s plaza is largely undisturbed and has remained an open area for over 120 years. Little remains of the original buildings but the sites they were located on can still be pinpointed with accuracy.


In the past it has been difficult for the casual visitor to discern much early Ellsworth history without a personal guide to explain where buildings were located and the sequence of events that took place. To remedy this situation, a Plaza Walking Tour was dedicated on August 3, 2002 which consists of 17 interpretive signs providing an overview of daily life on the plaza. Each sign is easily recognized from a distance by an accompanying steel silhouette. This allows the visitor an opportunity to experience specific events and locations in early Ellsworth history at his own pace.

It also offers those within our community who are not well-versed in its history, an opportunity to learn more about the place where they choose to live.


Filed under: Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 5:20 am

Other points of interest around Ellsworth: The Terra Cotta Depot, Citizens State Bank and Trust bank vault door, buffalo wallows, Performing Arts Center, swimming pool and water slide in Mildred Holt Park; playground equipment, picnic shelters, walking track, and lighted tennis courts in Krizek Park; band shell, play area and playground equipment in Preisker Park; golf driving range; golf course, bowling lanes; softball and baseball diamonds; rodeo grounds; city recreation building with exercise equipment; basketball courts at City Hall and on the grade school playground.




Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth, Ellsworth Sites — Peg Britton @ 5:33 pm

The National Register of Historic Places…this is a very special designation and Ellsworth’s Insurance Building was recently recognized as exemplary of that standard.

Ellsworth’s signature building on main street has been recommended by a review group of the Kansas State Historical Society to be given a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building is owned by the non-profit Drovers Board; Mark Roehrman serves as the board president. Other dedicated supporters serve on the Board. The designation will make the restoration project eligible for grants that otherwise would not be possible. This is an enormous break through for their efforts.

This has been an effort encompassing many months and hard work by the board to reach this outstanding designation. The National Register is reserved for the most distinctive historical properties.

The Drover Board is working toward restoring the building, with its historical second floor oriel, as a home for the Hall of Fame. The first step in this process is to fully restore the building.

The Insurance building was constructed in 1887-1888 and remodeled in the early 1900s. It is the building that most visitors driving down main street identify with Ellsworth. As you approach downtown from the south, it is the building that stands out from all the others and says….”we have history here that is unique to this area.” Ellsworth is where the beef industry as we know it today first began. It needs preserving; it needs our support.

The Drovers Board is planning a three-day longhorn cattle drive in September to commemorate Ellsworth’s cow town history and to raise money for the restoration of the building. This is an event you will NOT want to miss.

A donation of $100 will designate you as a founder. For more information, stop in the Ellsworth Antique Mall and talk with Mark or call 785.472.4659. Your support will help restore this significant part of Ellsworth’s history.


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