The Metal Art Work of M. T. Liggett
Driving westward from Greensburg along U.S. 54 and also KS-400 you will see the colorful metal artwork of M.T. Liggett. There are scores - perhaps hundreds - of these fascinating sculptures made from scrap metal. Many of them carry political themes, such as the one which depicts Monica Lewinski's Blue Dress, with a big white splotch deposited there by President Bill Clinton. It is titled, "The Dress." Other sculptures portray both well known and obscure historical and political figures. Some are easy to understand. Others make sense only to the artist, who insists that he is neither Democrat, Republican nor Libertarian. He just creates what comes to mind.
Some of the artwork is of birds, bugs, and other animals and fanciful creatures, many with whirligigs. A more serious one says: "Evolution is wrong. Only a miracle from the Almighty could have created the moronic dumbasses on the Kansas State Board of Education."
Whatever you think of this "Kanza" art, it will attract your attention. I stopped for several minutes and walked along the fence beside the highway, enjoying the eclectic display and trying to interpret as much of it as I could. Other travelers with out-of-state tags also stopped. Don't pass through Kiowa County without paying respects to one of the most outrageous roadside displays you will ever see.
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Fromme-Birney Round Barn
The Fromme-Birney Round Barn is well off the beaten path but definitely worth seeking out. I found this unusual barn by following the signs from US-54 near Mullinsville, on the western edge of Kiowa County. Drive 3 1/2 miles south and then 1 3/4 miles west, along unpaved farm roads. You will see the barn rising above the flat prairie long before you reach it.
This magnificent structure is very impressive in the detail of its workmanship. It was built in 1912 for Henry W. Fromme at a cost of $8,000. The barn isn't actually round but rather polygonal, having 16 sides. It is 50-feet high by 70-feet wide and was built to house draft horses which were used in for plowing, hauling and other heavy farm work.
Phyllis Birney of Boca Raton, Florida, fell in love with the old barn when she first saw it in the early 1970s. Because of her concern in wanting to see the barn preserved, her husband, Lawrence, gave the barn and one acre of land to Phyllis for their 15th wedding anniversary in 1986.
Phyllis in turn deeded the barn to the Kiowa County Historical Society in December, 1993. In 1995 the barn was restored with a grant from the Heritage Trust Fund. Today it stands unattended but unlocked for visitors to explore. Inside are displayed pictures and stories of round barns of the U.S., farm machinery, farm life of 1912, and information on the builders. On the windy November afternoon that I was there not another soul was around.
It was easy to see why Phyllis Birney fell in love with the Round Barn at first sight, because I did too.
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