Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum
My heart and my admiration go out to all of the people who are fighting an up-hill battle to transform a section of this old school house into a museum.
Quindaro, Kansas Territory, was significant in the state's history, and its story needs to be told. That is why this infant museum exists, and why archeologists have begun the arduous task of unearthing the town's buried secrets, and perhaps more of its story. At its peak, Quindaro was home to Europeans, Native Americans, and African Americans, all living together peacefully. Many of them worked together to free slaves from their cruel bondage. Its location opposite the towns of Parkville and Gladstone on the other side of the Missouri River made it a convenient embarkation point for escapees on the Underground Railroad to freedom. Many slaves made their escapes in winter, when they could simply walk across the frozen Missouri River.
I was privileged to tour the museum with guide Emmanuel Northern, a retired Santa Fe Railway worker with a keen interest in, and family ties to, the area's history. I found his accounts of the area's history fascinating, and hope that people of all races will become aware of Quindaro's existence. Because the museum is in its infancy, someone from the Vernon Multi-Purpose Center must now unlock the room and show visitors the collection of photos and artifacts. I did not tour the archeological digs, as it was a cold, windy day, and entrance is not allowed without permit from the city.
The school in which the museum is located has an interesting story of its own. Vernon School was opened in 1936 (then known as Colored School of Quindaro), closed in 1971, and was placed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places in 2004. Note - the third photo shown is from the bluff overlooking the Missouri River and the site of Quindaro. It is about a block away from the school building.
- Historical Travel
Huron Indian Cemetery
I'm not normally effected much by visiting cemeteries, but a walk through the Huron Indian Cemetery and being aware of its sad history did impact me.
More than 400 members of the Wyandot tribe are buried here, most in unmarked graves. A large number of those died after the forced relocation of the Wyandot nation from Ohio to Kansas Territory, victims of typhoid fever and cholera. In the 1840s and 50s, this sacred burial place was on a high point overlooking the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, but in time became prime commercial land in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Kansas. An attempt to sell the acreage to developers led to a long, drawn-out legal and political battle. According to Marci Penner's "The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers," Eliza and Helena Conley established their own fort (a shack over their parents' graves) in which they endured the elements for three years to protest the sale of the cemetery. In In 1910, Eliza argued the case before the US Supreme Court, the first Native American woman to do so. She lost her case, but in 1913, Kansas Senator (and Kanza Indian) Charles Curtis persuaded Congress to strike down the sale. One of the attached photos shows the modern headstones used to mark the Conley graves.
Even in recent years, use of this land has been central between court battles between the tribe and the State of Kansas, this time over the Wyandot's use of a building adjacent to the cemetery as a casino. At this writing, the state holds the upper hand.
Sadly, many of the headstones are damaged or missing, such as that marking the grave of Wyandot Chief George Clark. I suspect that much of this is due to vandalism, not the ravages of time. Sad, sad, sad.
- Historical Travel
A Familiar Landmark: The Rosedale Memorial Arch
At the very least, tens of thousands of people see this KCK landmark every day, as it is quite visible from Interstate 35. It sits high on a bluff above I-35, the Kansas River valley, and the massive railroad yards. Yet few people know what it actually is, why it exists, or have made their way to the arch itself.
Rosedale was one of those communities that became part of Kansas City, Kansas. In 1923, this arch was dedicated to those from Rosedale who served and sacrificed during the Great War, now known as WWI. It was designed by a local resident who apparently liked Paris' Arc de Triumph. In recent years, a smaller monument has been placed between the pillars of the arch to honor America's soldiers in other wars.
In the second photo (in landscape format), you can faintly see the skyline of Kansas City, Missouri, in the background, as well as a grain elevator below and to the left, a reminder of KC's economic dependence on agribusiness.
Kansas City Renaissance...
Kansas City Renaissance Festival is some thing you must go to. It begins in September on Labor Day and runs through mid October. I've been there three times and will be going again next year. Adding photos of it to a travelogue so you can see how fun it is.
Hundreds of people in period costume, great food, live entertainment, and crafts for sale. My favorite part is a rehab center for injured raptors that has a show with live hawks swooping over the crowd. The performers expect a donation at the end of each show but you don't have to give them any thing. I always give them a dollar or two if I like the show.
- Wine Tasting
Stop to smell the roses
300 acres with
- 30 acres of gardens and turf
- 70 acres of prairie
- 200 acres of wooded natural area
- nearly 5 miles of paved and wood chip hiking trails
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offer unexpected pleasures to everyone of all ages, in all seasons.
We came here in mid Oct'07 hoping to catch the trees dressed in its fall glory but the warm weather this year delayed autumn's arrival.
Still, it was fun to walk around this spacious place with beautiful flowers, shrubs, tress, water features, sculptures etc to enjoy. We wondered on the hiking trails meandering next to Wolf Creek, taking pictures, enjoying the sun and what nature has to offer.
Great job Mother Nature!
Check out Overland Park Arboretum travelogue for pictures of this beautiful place.
Open seven days a week
8 a.m.-7:30 p.m., April 10-Sept. 30
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 1-April 9
Closed Christmas Day
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Anthology of Argentine
Argentine, another neighborhood with its own identity and history, was an independent city until it was incorporated into Kansas City, Kansas, in 1910. It's name is derived from a prosperous silver smelting plant, now long-closed. One part of Argentine is still known as Silver City. Prior to that, the land was part of the Shawnee Indian reservation, and the grave of the great Shawnee prophet Tensquatawa is located on private property within the city.
This amazing mural traces the history of Argentine from the Hopewells, the earliest known Indian tribe in the area, to contemporary times. The mural is 200 yards long (equivalent to two football fields), and varies slightly in height according to the terrain of the hill behind it, but for the most part is 30 foot tall. I was shocked when I first saw it, not expecting anything so overwhelming in size and scope.
Jesus Ortiz served as art director for the project, assisted by a team of six artists from Kansas City and Mexico. It was dedicated in August of 1998.
In addition to the photos here, I have entered a travelogue with photos of the wall, including some details. Whenever possible, I have entered an explanation of the photo.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center
A large number of Croatian immigrants flocked to the hilly bluffs on the west side of the Kansas River to work in the stockyards and meatpacking plants of Kansas City. This area became known as Strawberry Hill, and is still home to the descendents of many of these hardworking immigrants. The cultural pride of this tight-knit community continues to this day.
This museum and cultural center are in the heart of Strawberry Hill. On the March Saturday in which I visited, the genial caretaker was getting ready to close down so he could go to Mass at the church next door. We talked for a few minutes about the opportunities to see and hear some of the folk music and dance ensembles from the area perform, then I departed, promising to come back to get a tour.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
St John the Baptist Catholic Church
Sitting high on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, this church is the spiritual home of the Kansas City, Kansas, Croatian community.
There is a marvelous view of the Kansas City, Missouri, skyline from the mini-park across the street.
The Grinter House
Sitting on a hill above the Kaw (Kansas) River valley is a brick home built in 1857, one of the first in Kansas. Its original owners were Moses Grinter, operator of the first ferry service in the territory of Kansas, and his wife Annie, a member of the Delaware tribe. The home's interior is furnished just as it might have been 150 years ago.
Open for tours Saturday afternoons from 1-5 only due to cutbacks in state funding. My visit was on a cool early spring day when I was the only person there. The state historian on duty was most informative and generous with his time.
For additional pictures and comments, see my Grinter House Travelogue.
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
In Kansas City one must visit:...
In Kansas City one must visit: The Plaza, Crown Center of Hallmark, The Mall of the Great Plains for shopping. For dancing go to Westport too many clubs to mention. For Art go to Nelson's Art Gallery for Dance go see the K.C. Ballet co. and the Kansas Regional Ballet Company very talent dancers. For hiking any of the many parks. We have FOUR professional teams Football -Chiefs, Soccer-Wizards (champions), Indoor soccer- K.C. Attacks, and Hockey - The K.C. BLADES
All of the above.....just tell me what you like and I will find it for you.
- Hiking and Walking
Surprisingly there is quite a...
Surprisingly there is quite a bit to see in Kansas City and surrounding area, especially a great deal relating to American Indians and the pioneer days of way back when. So here are a few suggestions: the Grinter State Historical Site (home of Moses Grinter, one of the earliest settlers in Kansas), Huron Indian cemetary (where many of the great people of the Wyandot Nation were buried after forced resttlement from the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio -- when it was much more beautiful and clean -- to Kansas), Line Creek Museum of Archaeology (located on the Hopewell Indian site), Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum, Wyandotte County Lake Park, National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, the Truman Library, Kansas City Museum, Science City at Union Station, American Royal Museum, the City Market and the Arabia Steamboat Museum, the Kansas City Zoo and the IMAX Theatre, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Focus on those things that interest you since most have some sort of admissions fee.
If you come in the summer,...
If you come in the summer, take the time to go to the SpiritFest. A wonderful outdoor festival with food and music.
Kansas City is noted for it's music. Home to the historic 18th and Vine district, and launching point of many great bands, the music at SpiritFest is amazing. The line-up gets better every year!
If you come in the fall,...
If you come in the fall, definitely take time to come see our Renaissance Festival.
Much like Festivals around the nation, the Renaissance Festival offers TONS of food, (try the turkey legs!) music, jewelry, crafts, and shows. Even if you aren't much of a history buff, this is entertaining in and of itself.
If you visit in the winter you...
If you visit in the winter you MUST stay to see the Plaza lighting ceremony or at least see the lights themselves.
Every Thanksgiving people rouse themselves from a turkey-induced stupor to head down to the Plaza and join hundreds of thousands of people watching the ceremonial lighting of the Plaza lights. Christmas lights make the Plaza a fairy-land all through the Christmas season.
Shawnee Indian Mission is used...
Shawnee Indian Mission is used as an educational center and museum. The mission originally was a school for Native American Indian children. Today local children from nearby schools come by bus to spend three days learning many of the same skills those indian children once learned. It is a way for them to see what it was like in the days gone by.
Well preserved buildings. Many antique items on display. If you are quiet and respectful they will let you watch the young girls and boys in their classes.
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