Friday, April 11, 2008

Yes, there are waterfalls in Kansas

What is it about a waterfall. Is it the sound? Feel of mist or reflection of light as it cascades down?

All together, waterfalls bring a joyous feel to nature.

What if I said there are natural waterfalls just a few hours drive from Lawrence? There are--in Kansas. Come with me to my favorite.

Pillsbury Crossing near Manhattan is 59 acres billed as one of the most scenic areas in the Northern Flint Hills region. We agree. Managed by Kansas Wildlife and Parks, it provides free access to a natural crossing of Deep Creek. In normal conditions, water flows gently over a natural flat limestone crossing then over a beautiful horseshoe like waterfall. The day we were there, the water was flowing over the falls nicely but still low enough families were wading about the crossing.

Quoting from the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism web site: "During normal stream flow, you may canoe, kayak, or take a small row boat upstream as far as 1/2 mile. There are some areas suitable for primitive camping by special permit only. Birdwatching is popular, and there is a small hiking trail provided in cooperation with a local conservation club in Manhattan. Fishing is also popular at Pillsbury Crossing, where the fish include channel cat, spotted bass, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish, and carp."

Pillsbury Crossing is a short 10 minutes drive north of I70 on Exit 313 (GPS: 39.12888 -96.44050). While in the area, visit the self-guided Konza Prairie Hiking trail . A 2.5 mile loop is perfect for the young members of the family and a full 6 mile loop for the full Flint Hills experience.

Other Kansas waterfalls we plan to visit include Butcher Falls in Chautauqua county. The one mile stretch of Pool Creek has been determined by American Whitewater to be a class III section. It is located on the Bill Kurtis Red Buffalo Ranch near Sedan Kansas.

The town of Elk Falls bills itself as the largest living ghost town. The town’s namesake waterfall is located on the nearby Elk River is in the Ozark Region of extreme southeast Kansas.

Alcove Springs was a stop on the Oregon Trail as it passed through Marshall County six miles northwest of Blue Rapids. The Alcove Spring Preservation Association in Blue Rapids, Kansas, maintains the short ½ mile hike to the actual falls where travelers waited for the Big Blue River to go down. This is a significant historical site as immigrant names carved into rocks are still clearly visible. It also has the distinction of being the burial place of a member of the doomed Donner-Reed party of 1846.

Chase Lake Falls in Chase county on Prather Creek is on the Flint Hills Scenic Byway While there, we plan to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with its showcase limestone mansion and Cottonwood Falls, site of the Chase County Courthouse.

Kansas waterfalls might not be as high or plentiful as those found in other parts of the country but, they are historic, beautiful in their own right and you can’t beat the amount of gas to find them.

FRIDAY NOTE: Below is a beautiful Kansas waterfall located on private land sent by an anonymous reader. He indicates it is not too far from Lawrence. Any other private falls out there?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Maps put you there

The Map Book written by Peter Barber is a collection of maps dated from 15,000 BC. Quoting from a review

detailed history of how human civilizations have tried to chart and plot their personal and political geographies

I heard an interview with Mr. Barber today. His thought was looking at an old map puts one there. You actually see how it was at the time the map was made. It shows old roads and noticeably absent new roads.

Several years ago, a friend gave us a 1953 Kansas map. I have scanned several parts. As a kid, we traveled from Junction City to Topeka and Kansas City. As I remember, we usually traveled on 24 highway through Manhattan and on to Topeka. Looking at this map does put me back to that time as these were the best roads of the time.
Click on images for larger view.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Missing Cash?

Rhea over at Boomer Chronicles has a link to check for missing money. Unfortunately, I do not have any unclaimed cash, but I found the name of a family member. Click here to find any missing bucks.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Flint Hills fires

My friend in Pennsylvania commented she had to do a little research to understand what I meant about the fire picture yesterday.

Each year Flint Hill land owners burn the native grass. Many years ago, lightening strikes provided the match to start the fires. Today, it is rather high tech--well as high tech goes with four wheelers dragging around a burning diesel coated pair of old jeans to start the fires, leaf blowers to put out small side fires and water with pressure sprayers to put out larger fires.

It can be dangerous as the fires race across the fields. We burn our native pasture each year. We have learned to have plenty of water available and carefully mow back from our pine trees. Even then we have lost two pines to the pasture fires. If the fire creeps under the pines and lights the dry pine needles, the flames whoosh up through the tree.

Chase county and Cottonwood Falls is in a mid Flint Hills location. Each year they have a Prairie Fire Festival, celebrating the time of year and the beauty of the fires.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Burning the Flint Hills

We returned from celebrating Mom's birthday after dark. This picture doesn't not do it justice. There were long lines of fire winding through the hills. Quite beautiful.