It is fun to hear about new and exciting places in our own backyard. No matter where you live, if you host visitors, they will likely tell you about some of the best places to visit and you didn’t have a clue these gems existed. This is the year for you to get a leg up on your guests’ discoveries and make plans to see some of the fun, unusual and interesting places Kansas has to enjoy!
World’s Largest Collection of Smallest Version of Largest Things
It can be hard to even wrap your mind around the title of this museum, World’s Largest Collection of Smallest Version of Largest Things, in Lucas. Creator Erika Nelson travels the United States looking for the “big” roadside attractions, whether it is a ball of rubber bands or a rocking chair, takes photographs then makes the World’s Smallest Version of the World’s Largest Thing. The collection is housed in the Lucas, Kansas, Roadside Sideshow Expo and it is open by happenstance, possibly weekends and definitely viewable through the window.
Garden of Eden
While in Lucas, you need to stop by the Garden of Eden Sculpture Park. S.P. Dinsmoor was a Civil War veteran who, once he retired from farming, moved to town in 1904 and began building his cabin home and sculpture park within walking distance from Main Street and in view of those traveling by train. He planned this location to be a home and tourist attraction from the start, charging entrance fees for tours of the property, even while it was being built.
Dinsmoor prided himself in being a “free thinker.” He built his concrete house, concrete barn, concrete pyramid, and concrete spring that he supplied with water by illegally tapping into the town’s water main because it was simply his prerogative. His final piece was a concrete mausoleum to serve as his resting place.
Comanche, the Lone Survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn
No U.S. Army soldier survived the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, but there was a lone survivor, a horse named Comanche. The horse belonged to Capt. Myles Keogh and had no less than seven bullet wounds. Many historians believe there were approximately 100 surviving horses but they were either captured or bolted.
After the battle, Comanche was retired to Ft. Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory where the commanding officer ordered the horse to have a “special and comfortable stall fitted up for him, and he will not be ridden by any person whatever, under any circumstances nor will he be put to any kind of work.” Comanche was also given the honorary title of “second-in-command” of the 7th Calvary and served as the company mascot.
Upon Comanche’s death in 1890, the horse was given a funeral with full military honors, however he was not buried. His body was sent to the University of Kansas in Lawrence to be stuffed and put on display in the university’s Natural History Museum where he is one of the most popular finds in the museum.
Head over to Hutchison and check out the world’s largest collection of U.S. and Russian aircraft. When you visit the Cosmosphere, you’ll be surprised to learn of its humble beginnings. The Cosmosphere got its start in 1962 in a poultry building at the Kansas State Fairgrounds where founder Patty Carey set up a planetarium projector and some folding chairs. The planetarium was well received and continued to expand to what it is today.
Now the Cosmosphere houses 13,000 pieces including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plan, the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft that was recovered from the ocean floor and the Apollo 13 command module. The museum’s collection spans the entire space age, from early rocketry experiment to modern times, but it still holds true to its roots with a state-of-the-art planetarium.
Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
If you think the gun tamed the West, you’d be wrong. Barbed wire, which came with the settlers, defined individual plots of land, kept livestock in and the free-roaming bison out. This was a simple invention originally made for gardens but became a multi-million dollar industry in a few short years. And, believe it or not, people collect the wire-shaped the Midwestern farms and the ranches of the West.
In LaCrosse, take a journey through how the West was won and the range wars this “Devils Rope” ignited. The museum features dioramas, samples of barbed wire through the years, educational films and the barbed wire hall of fame.
If you happen to be near LaCrosse in May, stop by the Barbed Wire Festival as collectors converge to buy, sell and trade their vintage wire. It is a family-friendly event.
Are you ready to hit the road this year and travel in your state?