Thursday, May 4, 2017

Manhattan (the little Apple) Kansas

April 27 - 30, 2017:

It is another ride through lush green Kansas fields and pasture lands, I never realized that  Kansas was so green.  It’s also hilly and as we approach Manhattan, Kansas it gets very hilly.  It’s was 157 miles today on routes 135 - 50 - 77 - 56 - 70 - 18 - 113 and 13 to the Tuttle Creek Cove Campground on Tuttle Creek Lake.  This is a COE (Corp of Engineers) Dam site with campground and picnic areas.  This is the 2nd largest lake in the Kansas at 11,000 acres with 112 miles of irregular shoreline.  It's big, there are three State Parks and six Corp of Engineers areas along the Lake shores.

A view from an observation point overlooking the Dam

At the far end of the Lake you can still see the trees
that existed prior to the Dam

We are staying here for four days and the weather forecast is nothing but cold, wind, clouds, rain and thunder storms.  There is a Tall Grass Prairie preserve nearby that would be interesting to hike in if it wasn’t so wet.  I did manage to find the "LinearTrail" that goes around the town of Manhattan and take a short walk in a forested area along the Big Blue River.  The trees along the river were massive old Cottonwoods and it was unusual to once again be in a “real” forest.  There was also part of an early 1930's Ford pickup truck sitting along the trail in the trees riddled with bullet holes, quite a photo op.

Railroad bridge over the Big Blue River although it is gray today

Old Ford truck cab sitting in the woods

Manhattan calls itself the  “Little Apple” in comparison to New York City the “Big Apple” and is home to Kansas State University. This is an amazingly vibrant small city with much to offer in the way of restaurants, shopping, sports, recreation and cultural activities.  It is located at the junction of the Big Blue River and the Kansas River and is the County seat of Riley County.
I did my usual walking tour around the central downtown area past the old courthouse, the Carnegie Library, the Wareham Theater, the new Mall complex, several restaurants, nice shops and historic buildings.

Fountain in front of the mall

The Carnegie Library

The Riley County Courthouse

Weird looking figure on the Courthouse

The Wareham Theater

Prior to Manhattan, the Kaw Indian tribe resided in a settlement called “Blue Earth Village” from 1780 to 1830.  It was located on “the “Great Blue Earth River”, today known as the “Big Blue River” near the confluence with the Kansas River.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act opened this territory up to settlement to US citizens in 1854 and Manhattan was founded shortly afterwards as a Free-State town led by a Isaac Goodnow.

The Kansas-Pacific Railroad arrived in 1866 which resulted in much economic growth for the city.  The current Train Depot was constructed in 1901 and became the Union Pacific Depot.  Freight train service continues today, but passenger service ended in 1971.  The Manhattan Railroad Station as a beautiful ornate building that has been totally restored.

Manhattan has its version of Paul Bunyon in the form of a 25 foot statue of Johnny Kaw in the City Park.  Johnny Kaw is a legendary figure who created the Kansas landscape.

Fiilinger's stories related how Johnny Kaw created the Kansas landscape, geography and pioneer trails. Kaw was said to have dug the Kansas River Valley, planted wheat, invented sunflowers, and grown giant potatoes. Kaw even controlled the weather, lopping the funnels off tornadoes and wringing out the clouds to end droughts. His pets were the mascots for the two state universities: a wildcat and a jayhawk, who enjoyed a good fight. The Dust Bowl was said to be a result of their fights. 

This legend was created by a Horticulture professor, George Fillinger, at Kansas State in 1955 to celebrate the Centennial of Manhattan, Kansas.

The Manhattan Train Depot

The Johhny Kaw statue

On the other side of Manhattan is the Kansas State University or K-State in an area known as “Aggieville”.  The university was started by Isaac Goodnow as an Agricultural School in 1863 and it still remains predominantly that today.  It is claimed that Aggieville is the oldest shopping district in Kansas.  It is four square blocks of bars, clubs, restaurants, music clubs and assorted shops, a shopping mall and several large Hotels.  I hoped to find some live music activity on the weekend, even if it was country, but no such luck. 

Entertainment area in Aggieville

Theater and Book Store appear closed

Nice ring to the Rock-a-Belly Deli

I took a ride to the town of Wamego, Kansas about 15 miles east of Manhattan.  It’s a very interesting small town with the restored Columbian Theater loaded with artifacts from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago.  
Wamego also has probably the best "Wizard of OZ" Museum in the world and an original stone Dutch Windmill built in 1879 by a Dutch Immigrant that was taken apart, moved to Wamego in 1925 and reassembled.  
Another little known fact is that Wamego was the birthplace of Walter P. Chrysler who went on found Chrysler Corporation.  This little town is something special.

The restored ColumbianTheater in Wamego

Time seems to have escaped this old saddle shop 

A classic Dutch Windmill  

The OZ Museum contains 25,000 artifacts on the movie !

Original Judy Garland poster

You can watch the movie over and over 

The Tin Man was a dangerous role to play, the original actor
Buddy Epstein came down with severe emphysema from the
makeup dust and was replaced by Jack Haley who developed an eye infection

On the return to the campground, I came upon a couple of picturesque Grain Elevators not to be missed. 

It's a skyscraper !

Never do this at a railroad crossing

Next stop is Topeka, Kansas;
Twinkles and Slick

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