Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kansas City

I was only in Kansas City for one week, but looking back on all I did, it seems like I must have been there a month. The WINs had about 40 people for this gathering and we were parked at the Ameristar Casino. Here is just a glimpse of what the group did and what I experienced this week in Kansas City.
This isn't Kansas City, but the Elms Resort in Excelsior Springs, MO, which is northeast of Kansas City. At one time the area was reported to have over 100 mineral springs and hot springs. People came to not only drink the waters but to bathe in them as well.

This resort has burnt 3 times, the last being in the early 1900s. But it was always rebuilt. It fell into disrepair and disuse, but was bought by the city until investors could be found. It has now been restored and is again a popular resort. Although most of the cities natural springs have been capped, they still offer mineral bathes and full spa treatments.

This is actually on the way to Kansas City at Arrow Rock State Park. The above is Arrow Rock Tavern, built in 1834 as a way stop for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. It is restored to its original state with some original furnishings. It is now a restaurant and gift shop.

You usually don't think of Missouri being a part of the Civil War, but it was. Here is testament to their involvement by way of a cannonball which is still imbedded in the column of the County Courthouse. We also went to the Battle of Lexington Historical Site Visitor Center which I thought was a small, but good museum.

I encourage everyone to visit the Steamboat Arabia exhibit in downtown Kansas City. The Steamboat Arabia was sunk in 1856 about 10 miles north of Kansas City when the boat hit a snag in the river. It sunk quickly, loaded with cargo headed to Omaha and the new frontier. Because it sank so fast and the current was so swift, it was quickly covered with silt and was never salvaged. Eventually the river changed course and it ended up buried 45 feet deep in the middle of a corn field.

When it was found and salvaged in 1988 most of its cargo was still intact. These are some pickles. One of the salvagers actually opened a jar and reportedly ate one and said it was good.

The ship was the original "walmart" with all its varities of wares. It carried housewares, including some fine china, as well as the necessary pots and pans.

It also had building materials such as nails, axes, shovels, locks, hardware, tools and such.

There were over 5000 pairs of shoes. These have been restored. I could go on and on about this exhibit, but then you wouldn't want to go see it yourself, and you really should.

This church got my attention because of its unusual spiral steeple. It is an early break off branch from the Morman Church.

This is called the "Stone Church", which was built in 1866. It was the first branch of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They eventually changed their name to the Community of Christ Church.

This house was nearby and we noticed the unique roof tile pattern.

Fort Osage is on the Missouri River just east of Kansas City. It was suggested as a good place for a fort by Lewis and Clark. Not really a military fort, it was a trading fort.

At the Frontier Museum, which had lots of information about the Oregon, Santa Fe, Morman and California Trails, I thought this picture really said it all. Then it was Trails which eventually became the routes of the railroads, and today these now abandoned railroad beds are being turned back into hiking and biking trails. Great recycling!

Leavenworth was not too far away for a day trip. This is the Federal Prison.

But since the prison doesn't give tours, we visited Fort Leavenworth instead. This is the monument to the Buffalo Soldiers.

This is the spot, at Fort Leavenworth,where travelers headed on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails were ferried across the Missouri River.

This was the military prison on the fort.

We also took a tour of the Harley-Davidson Plant. They assemble several of the bikes here. No pictures were allowed on the tour, but you could try out some of the bikes while waiting.

Liberty, MO, claims to be the first place Jesse James robbed a bank. It is now a museum.

Also in Liberty is the jail where several Morman men, including prophet Joseph Smith, was held in 1838.

It has been partially reconstructed at the site where it originally stood.

Not far from downtown Kansas City is an area called the "Electric Power and Light" district. They have concerts out in the open. The band wasn't my kind of music and it was quite loud so we didn't stay long, but it was a nice place. They had chairs and sofas scattered around the open area for seating.

I also visited the Truman Library. Never before having visited a presidential library I really wasn't sure what to expect. It was interesting. I did learn a lot about Truman which I never would have expected. He was a Missouri farm boy who never went to college. And as the paper says, no one expected him to win the election for president, and the papers even headlined his loss, but they were wrong. He did win the election.

What I didn't know was how involved he was in the "fair deal" legislation. Usually you associate it, or at least I did, with Franklin D. Roosevelt, but it was actually Truman who started the ball rolling on government provided medical care. Of course it didn't pass in his presidency, nor in his life time. This poster shows some of the proposals.

Not too far away was the home he lived in after his marriage to Bess. He retired here and lived out his life in this home. Although he moved to Washington, D.C., while in office, he always came back here and considered this his real home.

Union Station was another place I visited. I never did find out why a dinosaur is hovering on the lawn of Union Station.

This is the front of Union Station. They always made train stations look so elegant back then.

This is inside the station. Today it has a few shops and downstairs has a good train museum which is free. And it still functions as a train station for Amtrak.

Watkins Mill is one of my favorite sites. Now a state park, it houses a woolen mill which has all the original equipment from when it closed in the 1890s. Accessible only on a guided tour, you get to learn how Mr. Watkins was a very innovative man back in the late 1800s. You can also tour the Watkins home too.

Purchasing the wool from nearby ranchers, as well as the wool he produced himself, he processed the wool, made the thread and wove the material all in one factory.

He had state of the art equipment shipped in from the east. He also hired experienced milling employees from back east to operate the equipment and work in his mill. He provided housing for his employees which was unusual at that time. Also, he provided some health care and schooling for the employees and their families.

This chart shows the wages then and the comparable wage in 2008.

In downtown Kansas City we spotted this mural on the side of a building. Look at the cars in the parking lot. This is one huge mural commemorating the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery.

And here I am at Arthur Bryants World Famous BBQ Restaurant. No waitresses, you just go up to the counter and order, wait for your meal, then find a table. I don't know about the best BBQ I've had, but it was good and you got a lot. Actually, Max and I shared this plate and we both got full.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Columbia, MO

I caught up with my friends in Columbia, MO. We were supposed to be staying at a campground on the Missouri River (Catfish Katy's), but with all the flooding and rain, the campground was too soggy, so we moved to the Elk Lodge parking lot in Columbia, MO.
The town of Columbia is home to the University of Missouri-Columbia so off we headed one day to visit the campus.
These columns are from the portico of the original Academic Hall, built in 1840. They are now an icon and symbol of the University of MO-Columbia. Which this university was the first state university built west of the Mississippi River. The Academic Hall was destroyed by fire in 1892, but these columns were saved.

The current Academic Hall.

The original marker for the gravesite of Thomas Jefferson, who is buried at Monticello, VA. His heirs donated it to the university.

Whatever Thomas Jefferson is writing, it must be very interesting.

Everyone wants to read what he is writing.

Happy Hour at the Elk Lodge parking lot.

The KATY Trail runs 224 miles through Missouri. Once the route of the Kansas, Missouri and Texas Railroad (KATY), it is now a bike trail. We started just outside of Columbus and road about 10 miles down to Rocheport, MO.

This is supposed to be a cave where Lewis and Clark spent the night on the epic journey.

Above are these markings on the cliffs which are supposed to be Indian graffiti about 300 years old.

Although this looks like an abandoned home, it was actually a storage site for the workers while building the railroad. It held the explosives and other materials.

On the other side of Rocheport is this tunnel, all hand dug.

We came back to Rocheport and had lunch at this eclectic restaurant named Abilgail's. Notice the canoe hanging from the ceiling?

Here they are using bicycle spokes to hold the pots and pans. Although it had unusual decor, it was wonderful food. I even had avacado soup and it was great!

Down the road about 40 miles south of Columbia is Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. Here is another monument to Lewis and Clark.

The original courthouse building is now just administrative offices.

The capital. If you ever visit Jefferson City, go visit the museum inside the capital.

A statue of the signers of the Louisiana Purchase.

This building was once a busy trade center on the Missouri River, but is now a museum and visitor center. The buildings date from the mid 1800s when the Missouri had a booming river trade with the steamboats providing supplies to the new and emerging west.

After all the museums it was ice cream time. Can you imagine any one person eating this banana split by themselves? I can't and it was all we could do to finish it between the two of us, but several in our group ordered their own and finished it all. Really, they did!