Friday, January 29, 2010

It's Kansas Day!

I love this day. Love concentrating on the great state we live in.

To me, it's the little things that make it great. Things like...

...putting my foot on the brass rail at Brant's Meat Market and chatting with Doug before I buy some sausage

...shouting my name at Echo Cliff (near Dover) and hear it come bouncing back

...sticking my toes in the clear waters at Shoal Creek at Schermerhorn Park and closing my eyes to imagine early-day Route 66 travelers stopping here to do the same

...climbing to the crest of Point of Rocks at Cimarron National Grassland and imagining Santa Fe Trail wagons coming in to view

...standing beside the Brewster Higley cabin north of Athol and running my fingers over the words to his poem (now state song) etched on the side of the cabin

...tracing the outline of home plate at Walter Johnson's country birth site near Humboldt

...climbing the steep path to the top of the bluff on the Kansas/Nebraska line near White Cloud to find the survey marker

...staring in awe at the Father Kapaun memorial near the church at Pilsen and thinking of the love and compassion he gave his fellow POW's

...walking inside the St. Mary's Church at St. Benedict for the predictable jaw-dropping view

...having a picnic at the base of the Monument Rocks

...swinging on the tree swings at the Hays city cemetery

...taking the trail below the iron truss bridge at Elk Falls to splash around on the big flat stones

...going in to any small town and just talking to the people.

I adore what this state offers in its architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people. It's the total package. It's won my heart a million times and I look forward to enjoy every step of the journey yet to come.

Where do you want explore this year?

To explore the state is to "get" her, is to love her.

Happy Kansas Day.

KE #2 Marci Penner

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Symbols of Kansas

Feel free to cut and paste this and use it as you wish
to help celebrate Kansas Day, January 29

On January 29, 186, President James Buchanan signed the bill that admitted Kansas as the 34th state. This was one of the precipitating events that led to the Civil War. Three months after Kansas became a state, the first shots of the Civil War broke out at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

It was a painstaking process for Kansas to become a state. In 1858, James Buchanan recommended that the Lecompton Constitution be adopted for Kansas, which would have allowed slavery in the state. Congress voted it down. Battles, massacres, deception, angst, fiery speeches, arson, and passionate pleas are just a few of the events that occurred to gain statehood as a free state. Kansas state seal, adopted 1861. On May 25, 1861, the Kansas State Legislature adopted the state's seal.

Kansas state flower: Wild Native Sunflower, adopted 1903.
Nearly 3,000 years ago, the sunflower was domesticated for food production by the Native Americans.

Kansas state bird: Western Meadowlark, adopted Kansas Day 1925.
The Western Meadowlark was selected the state bird after a vote by over 121,000 school children. Western Meadowlarks are ground nesters and ground feeders.

Kansas state flag, adopted 1927.
First flown at Fort Riley by Governor Ben Paulin for the troops at Fort Riley and for the Kansas National Guard and officially adopted by the Kansas State Legislature on May 21, 1927.

Kansas state march: The Kansas March, adopted 1935 and Here’s Kansas, adopted 1992.
Duff Middleton wrote the music for “The Kansas March” and it was adopted by the legislature in 1935. Bill Post of Geuda Springs wrote the words and music for “Here’s Kansas” which was adopted as a second Kansas state March in 1992.

Kansas state tree: Eastern Cottonwood, adopted 1937.
Cottonwoods can be either male or female. It is the fluffy white seeds produced by the females during early summer that give the tree its name.

Kansas state song: Home on the Range, adopted 1947.
Dr. Brewster M. Higley originally wrote the words in a poem called "My Western Home" in the early 1870s in Smith County. The music was written by a friend of Higley's named Daniel E. Kelley.

Kansas state animal: American Bison, adopted 1955.
A single herd of bison in 1871 located southwest of what is now Dodge City was carefully estimated to have over 4 million members! Bison bulls may weigh a ton, cows top out around 1,100 pounds. They can run 35 MPH for long distances.

Kansas state insect: Honeybee, adopted 1976.
There is only one queen in a hive and her main purpose in life is to make more bees.

Kansas state reptile: Ornate Box Turtle, adopted 1986.
The word "ornate" means elaborately decorated. The 1985-86 6th grade class in Caldwell, Kansas did a massive campaign to get the ornate box turtle named state reptile.

Kansas state soil: Harney Silt Loam, adopted 1990.
Harney soils are recognized as prime farmland and have excellent properties for producing food and fiber crops. These soils occur on about 4 million acres in west-central Kansas.

Kansas state amphibian: Barred Tiger Salamander, adopted 1994.
The Barred Tiger Salamander are the largest terrestrial salamanders in the world – up to 14 inches in length.

Knowing our Kansas symbols help us "Get Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do you know all the words to "Home on the Range"?

Happy Kansas Day Week!

In 1947 the state legislature adopted "Home on the Range" as our state song. The words were written by Brewster Higley in his cabin in 1871 or 1872 and the music was composed by Dan Kelly, who lived in southern Smith County for awhile.

If you are looking for a perfect way to commemorate Kansas Day you might travel to Smith County to Mr. Higley's cabin on Beaver Creek. The cabin is located on private property but we all have permission to walk around the (deteriorating) cabin and read the words to the song on the side of the building. Hopefully you can pick up a brochure which tells the whole fascinating story about how the song came to be.
The cabin is located 8 miles north of Athol on K-8, then 1 mile west. Follow the mile-long, narrow driveway to the 1872 cabin and former home of Brewster Higley.

When you stand by his cabin you'll understand why he wrote the words.

He didn't know he was writing words to "Home on the Range" but rather a poem called "My Western Home."

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not clouded all day.

A home, a home where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the sky is not clouded all day.

Oh, give me the gale of the Solomon vale,
Where life streams with buoyancy flow,
On the banks of the Beaver, where seldom if ever
Any poisonous herbage doth grow.

Oh, give me the land where the bright diamond sand
Throws its light from the glittering stream
Where glideth along the graceful white swan,
Like a maid in a heavenly dream.

I love the wild flowers in this bright land of ours;
I love too the wild curley's scream,
The bluffs and white rocks and antelope flocks
That graze on the hillsides so green.

How often at night, when the heavens are bright
With the light of the glittering stars,
Have I stood here amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds this of ours.

The air is so pure, the breezes so free,
The zephyrs so balmy and light,
I would not exchange my home here to range
Forever in azure so bright.

To stand here and softly sing the song to yourself is to "Get Kansas."

KE #2 Marci Penner

Monday, January 11, 2010

The 24 Geography finalists according to physiographic region

Greetings to the World!

Today I am going to share with you 24 of the most unique geographical sites in Kansas -- in fact, they are the 24 finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography! And, indeed, they are a fine representation of the diversity of Kansas.

In fact, raise your hand if you've heard of the eleven physiographic regions of Kansas. Ah, I don't see many hands up. The Sci-Tec online dictionary defines a physiographic region as "a landform considered with regard to its origin, cause, or history."

So, here's your geography lesson for today. I'll list the 24 finalists under descriptions of the physiographic regions. Note that some finalists fit into more than one region. Region descriptions come from information on the Kansas State (KDOT) map and the hyperlink takes you to more detailed information at the Kansas Geological Survey site.

ARKANSAS RIVER LOWLANDS: The river that produced the Royal Gorge 240 miles to the west cuts the High Plains of southwest Kansas, leaving sand and gravel deposits, irregular hills, and sand dunes over a wide area.
  • *Bartlett Arboretum, Belle Plaine
  • Brenham Meteorites (the meteorites happened to fall hear), near Haviland
CHAUTAUQUA HILLS: A sandstone-capped rolling upland that extends into the Osage Cuestas from the southern Kansas border. Approximately 10 miles wide.
  • Cross Timbers State Park, near Toronto
CHEROKEE LOWLANDS: Bituminous coal veins are near the surface in this region where thousands of acres have been strip-mined.
  • Mined Land Wildlife Area, Cherokee, Crawford & Labette counties
FLINT HILLS: Stretching north and south across the state, this is an area of beautiful scenery and unexcelled pasture land. Elevation differences vary from 100-400 feet. The area is named for the chert or flint rock that covers the bluestem slopes.
  • Konza Prairie, Manhattan
  • Native Stone Scenic Byway, Wabaunsee & Shawnee counties
  • *Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, near Manhattan
HIGH PLAINS: This region comprises almost all of the western one-third of the state. It is an area of vast flatlands and gently rolling hills, with topographic relief largely restricted to streams and river valleys.
  • Arikaree Breaks, Cheyenne County
  • *Big Basin Prairie Preserve, Clark County
  • Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County
  • Lake Scott State Park, Scott County
  • Mount Sunflower, Wallace County
GLACIATED REGION: This area is bounded by the Kansas and Blue rivers. There are rounded hills and broad valleys with glacial deposits of quartzite on some of the hills.
  • Alcove Spring, near Blue Rapids
  • Four-State Lookout, White Cloud
  • Kaw Point Park, Kansas City
OSAGE QUESTAS: This is a hill-plain or broad-terrace panorama with the eastern slopes of the hills steeper than the western slopes. These is a plentiful limestone supply here.
  • Elk River Hiking Trail, western Montgomery County
  • Native Stone Scenic Byway, Wabaunsee & Shawnee counties
  • *Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, near Manhattan
OZARK PLATEAU: The Ozark region begins in the extreme southeast corner of Kansas. Crinoids, trilobites, and other fossils may be found in this area.
  • Schermerhorn Park, near Galena
RED HILLS: Located along the state's south central boundary, this province has sandstone and shale stained red. Also included are areas of rugged hills, buttes, and mesas.
  • *Big Basin Prairie Preserve Preserve, Clark County
  • Gyp Hills Scenic Drive & Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, Barber & Comanche counties
SMOKY HILLS: There are three hill ranges. Dakota sandstone makes up the first hill range. Greenhorn limestone makes up the middle hill range, an area known as Post Rock Country. The third range, chalk bluffs in the Smoky Hill River valley, produced some astonishing rock formations in Logan and Gove counties. A large sea once covered the area. Fossils found in the rock made the area famous for paleontology studies.
  • Coronado Heights, near Lindsborg
  • Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States, Lebanon
  • Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, near Canton
  • Mushroom Rock, Ellsworth County and Rock City, Minneapolis
  • Post Rock Scenic Byway, Ellsworth, Lincoln & Russell counties
  • Sternberg Natural History Museum, Hays
WELLINGTON-MCPHERSON LOWLANDS: Permeable sand and gravel and a large quantity of high-quality water in the Equus beds underlie some of this area. Salt mines and marshes are nearby.
  • *Bartlett Arboretum, Belle Plaine
*on the cusp of a region

I'm not sure about Kaw Point Park. Should it be in the Glacial Hills region or Osage Cuestas?

If you're lucky enough to have a 2003-2004 Kansas State (KDOT) map, the whole state will be color coded showing the regions. In more recent years, there is a small section on the map that shows these color coded regions.

Have fun getting to know the diversity of Kansas geography!

And, make sure to vote for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography.

The contests are designed to help you "Get Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner