Our Big Trip Across the Western US - September 2015
Our travel day began at 7:00 AM as we pulled out of the drive with 53 degrees and heavy ground fog to the east of us. Luckily the fog was not near us so we had no trouble getting onto I35 south. We had a pleasant drive and were out of Iowa by 10:00 AM. When we got to Kansas City there was heavy construction and we ended up on a detour. But luckily the Garmin kept us headed through the mess.
As planned, we left I35 at US Highway 56 near Admire, Kansas. This took us to the town of Council Grove where we planned to take Kansas 177 south along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. As we approached Council Grove we saw a sign for an “Old Stone Barn” and decided to make it our first stop.
There was an older man there getting ready to mow the grass and he offered information about the barn. It is known as Big John Limestone Bank Barn and was built by Seth Hays in 1871. There was a stone house there at one time and between 1889 and 1945 was used as the Morris County Poor House. The same man built the Hays House, a downtown structure that is under renovation now.
When we arrived in Council Grove we located the Chamber of Commerce and picked up brochures on sites around the area, including the scenic byway. The chamber was located beside the Farmers and Drovers Bank, which was built in 1892, what a beautiful structure!
Loaded with brochures and maps we headed back towards the direction we had come from to see the two statues that are located near the east side of town. The native American statue is called the Guardian of the Grove and represents a Kaw (Kanza) Warrior and honors this tribe. It was created by a Council Grove artist, Mark Sampsel and was authorized by the Kaw Nation.
Across the street is the Madonna of the Trail. This statue of a woman and her two children was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1928. We learned that this is one of a series of 12 monuments dedicated to the spirit of pioneer women in the United States. They are installed in 12 states along emigrant overland trails.
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