Sunday, September 14, 2008

Morland, St. Peter, Collyer, Castle Rock

Saturday was a great day.

One of the Foundation's "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair" events to increase rural community awareness took place in Morland, a town of 155 in Graham County. Two legislators, Ralph Ostmeyer and Jim Morrison were among the 40-45 that sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of the bank's bas relief mural.

We heard about what it takes to keep a restaurant open in a small town, about the efforts to re-open the grocery store, and the announcement of a new small mill that will likely move to town.

To simply say that Faye, Charley, Kirk, Artie, Terry, Chris, Billie Jo, Sam, and so many others have gone above and beyond to keep this town alive just doesn't tell the story. To have any chance of understanding why people work so hard to keep a town of 155 alive, you'd have to feel the buzz in the restaurant (and taste the delicious food), see the building restoration projects, you'd need to sit on the sidewalk and watch the friendly and small town rituals that take place -- like a mother going by pushing a stroller or little boys walking down the street unattended. But mostly you'd need to look deep into the eyes and hearts of the committed ones to "get it" and believe. These folks come in all shapes, sizes, dress, and talk but put them together and you have the basis for community sustainability.

Morland is in a beautiful part of the state and is on the cusp of the High Plains and Smoky Hill regions. As you approach the turn to Morland on U.S. 24 you see a grain elevator about 1/2 mile to the south and you know the town is down there in the valley. It's such a picturesque sight and you can understand why people choose to live there.

We certainly recommend going to the Prairie Junction in Morland! Get hours by calling the bank at 785.627.3165.

Thanks to the Explorers, townspeople, and legislators that came out with lawn chairs!

WenDee had never seen Castle Rock so we took a back road south of Morland to get to Castle Rock. On our way we came to the town of St. Peter. We took pictures of the four street signs. Street names were St. Ann, St. Mary, and two other saints. The two main action centers were the catholic church in the town and the oil company out on the highway.

The route took us by Collyer so we stopped, knowing they were having a festival. With a population 129, this town was hopping! At the east end of town they were having the Mud Run. We had never seen one. The crowd was large and the noise drew us in. We hopped onto a flatbed trailer and watched one truck after another rev their engine and try to make it through the mud pit. We saw one truck make it after much effort. The next one worked so hard at making it up the slope that it literally blew up the engine. Fire and everything!

We moved on a few blocks to the craft booths, food booths, and music. Little kids were riding these big-tire tricycles on the cement basketball court. The big tires allowed them to tip to the side and keep riding on two wheels. One little kid said to this next, "This is so fun!" Parents were at the nearby food booths. It was vintage small town at its best.

I'm so proud of the Collyer Alliance made up of a group of incredible women that just do anything to keep their little town going. Others help out and the enthusiasm is contagious. One guy who stood by us on the flatbed said that he grew up there and had come back today to help.

Small towns can just make you real proud.

"Wow!" That's what WenDee said when she saw Castle Rock. She took lots of pictures. But then we kept driving to the "badlands" and even more enthusiastic "wow's" were elicited. A person could stay all day to crawl around on these chalky rocks. If you haven't ever seen them I hope you can go sometime. After all, they are one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas!

1 comment:

Larry Hornbaker, KE 2013 said...

I too had a great day Saturday Sept 13.

I experienced the events in Morland, then left to do a "Dare to do Dirt" loop of Graham County. I traveled about 105 miles, mostly on back roads thru both High Plains and Smoky Hills areas.

Antelope Lake is especially scenic - the iron truss bridge is still there. I also briefly visited 9 cemeteries.

By early evening, I finished my trip by also passing thru St Peter, then Collyer in Trego County. There were still some trucks lined up at the mud pit.

Also, on Friday Sept 12, I explored Bogue, Nicodemus, and Hill City.

I had a great two day experience in Graham County.