Ottawa Travel Guide

  • Ottawa
    by RoscoeGregg
  • The Restored Store Front
    The Restored Store Front
    by RoscoeGregg
  • A View Of The Counter
    A View Of The Counter
    by RoscoeGregg

Ottawa Things to Do

  • Dietrich Cabin

    Built by hardy German pioneers in the late 1850s, the Dietrich Cabin is the oldest home in Franklin County. Originally built a little outside the town limits (Ottawa not chartered until 1864) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this walnut-wood cabin stands well-preserved on the grounds of the Ottawa City Park, a classic example...

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  • Bored of Education

    The old Ottawa High School and Junior High are nearly identical buildings in the Late Gothic Revival style after designs by George Washburn. Built in the first quarter of the 20th century but abandoned since the 1980s, locals have been embroiled in finding the means and the motive to save these two relics from decay and destruction. Both currently...

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  • James H. Ransom House

    Begun in the 1890s and finally finished in 1901, this Late Victorian style mansion actually resides in a neighborhood full of similar homes. Owned by a prominent citizen (James H. Ransom, who helped to save the Hamblin House and other buildings from fire in the 1890s), this building stands not only on the National Register of Historic Places but...

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  • Old Depot Museum

    Built in 1888 as the Santa Fe Railroad Depot, this classic stone structure is one of countless former depots that have since been restored as county or living museums (1962). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the depot served the railroad and rail passengers for three-quarters of a century before ownership was transferred to the...

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  • Carnegie Free Library

    As usual, the Carnegie Free Library in rural Kansas become almost an automatic listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed also by George Washburn and built at the turn-of-the-century, this humble-looking construction is now the home of the Ottawa Community Center (but also known as the Ottawa Library).

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  • Hamblin Building

    The oldest date encountered on Main Street seems to be the former Hamblin Building, constructed in 1879. Not listed on the National Register specifically, this great building was once a public amusement hall, later a national bank and finally a grand hotel. The two latter occupations seem to be those best suited to such architecture, still a...

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  • Downtown Historic District

    Since 1972, the downtown historic district has rightfully taken its place on the National Register of Historic Places. Built from 1872 to the late 1890s, sometimes in eclectic, sometimes in Victorian styles, the historic quarter runs for several blocks along Main Street, its individual members generally bearing dates of construction higher up on...

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  • County War Rolls

    The county seats in America not only have the courthouse somewhere in town but usually a war memorial somewhere on the courthouse lawn. Such is the case in Ottawa, which since its founding in 1864 has produced soldiers for America's foreign causes since the Spanish-American War.

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  • Franklin County Courthouse

    One of the most imaginative in the entire state, this George Washburn designed county courthouse is a gorgeous building and still the center of town life in Ottawa. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built in the Romanesque style in 1893, this seat of county government is one of over a dozen designed by Washburn, often...

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  • Old Depot Museum

    Built in 1888 of Kansas limestone, the old Southern Kansas railroad depot also housed the offices of the railroad division. By the 1960's, when there was no longer passenger train service to Ottawa, the depot was donated to the city's historical society by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. I regret that I was running short on time and was...

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  • The Dietrich Cabin

    This wood cabin, built in 1859 by German immigrants Jacob and Catherine Dietrich, now stands in Ottawa's City Park, a tribute to Kansas' pioneer settlers. It was originally located outside of town on the Humboldt Trail where travellers often sought overnight refuge on the porch.

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  • Franklin County Courthouse

    Dedicated in 1893, the Franklin County Courthouse is typical of the designs of architect Ottawa resident, G.P. Washburn. The building is well-maintained and used for its original purpose. Square towers are a characteristic of Washburn's public buildings.The color of this building almost makes this photo look like an antique post card, but this is...

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Ottawa Hotels

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Ottawa Restaurants

  • A Great Stop For Coffee and a Bite

    We stopped here for a quick coffee and a bite on our way to pick up some new goats for our herd. It turned out to be a good thing. The counter staff was friendly and well trained. The coffee was good and the atmosphere was relaxing and pleasant. It was clean and the food a fair value.The windows in this restored storefront right on main street give...

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  • Historic Barn with historic bad service

    Although this restaurant is unique (restored barn turned restaurant) The service is horrible. servers can be rude, food orders take forever, and management does not care. I've eaten in both the upstairs and downstairs areas. upstairs service is horrible, downstairs you have a combination of a very loud bartender who talks about innappropriate...

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  • Second or first best pizza place in town

    Good pizza delivery place. Used to be a mexican restaurant, but changed their theme unfortunately. Still good pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza

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  • First or second best pizza place in town

    A typical pizza place. Not your pizza-chain cookie cutter taste, but good local style. Pizza, pizza, pizza

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  • The local sports restaurant in town

    G Williker's has a couple of locations in Kansas. It's theme is sort of like a local sports bar. They serve many of the usual bar foods - burgers, steaks, sandwiches, etc. and beer and appetizers. There are a couple of televisions in the place to watch sports on. A nice place to relax and see some local sports history on the walls. Chicken fingers...

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  • This huge antique mall is...

    This huge antique mall is about a block west of Main street near down town. It has a restaurant inside. I had pie and coffee there. Tons of neat old things to see. There are even full size cars inside the building.

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Ottawa Nightlife

  • brdwtchr's Profile Photo

    by brdwtchr Written Oct 4, 2002

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    This is the Dietrich Cabin. It used to sit near the well travelled trail. Travellers would spend the night on the porch of the cabin. Now this cabin is in the park at 5th and Main.

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Ottawa Local Customs

  • brdwtchr's Profile Photo

    by brdwtchr Written Oct 4, 2002

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    Saw this license plate on a truck at Orscheln's. EAT BEEF while you are in Kansas. We raise a lot of cattle in this state. Eating beef while you are here supports the local economy.

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Ottawa Tourist Traps

  • brdwtchr's Profile Photo

    by brdwtchr Written Oct 4, 2002

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    Don't mistake this for the real veteran's memorial. This stone is in the park on Main. The memorial is in front of the courthouse.

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Ottawa What to Pack

  • brdwtchr's Profile Photo

    by brdwtchr Written Oct 4, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Don't worry about bringing boots. You can buy boots and a hat at Orsheln's. You can also read the bulletin board there or look at saddles for sale.

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Ottawa Off The Beaten Path

  • First United Methodist Church

    Less appealing than the First Baptist but also standing on the periphery of the county courthouse is the First United Methodist Church. Similar to other United Methodist buildings throughout Kansas and Oklahoma, the Ottawa chapter has the medieval features of high gables and arched windows.

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  • First Baptist Church

    Always with an eye to rich religious architecture, the Ottawa streets have several gorgeous examples. Prominent among these is the First Baptist Church across the street from the county courthouse. Built of gray stone and featuring wonderful stained-glass and a corner belltower, this is by far the prettiest church architecture in town.

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  • Edward Haley Park

    Small, quaint but not entirely private, this tiny urban "park" stands in the hubbub of Main Street, but offers a shady if not peaceful retreat from the traffic of the downtown district. Full of benches and decorated by a plain fountain, visitors to historic Ottawa can take a break from their tour here without leaving the main attractions.

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Ottawa Favorites

  • Present-Day Ottawa

    Ottawa remains a thriving community today, and though its Main Street historic district is difficult to beat, it relies less on tourism than local industry to remain alive. Though situated roughly thirty miles south of the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Ottawa University has a remarkable campus (with one building making the National Register of...

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  • Historic Ottawa

    Though most of the buildings along Main Street now support modern businesses, the entire historic district seems authentic in every particular. Some facades are faded and lackluster, but the majority still retain their original facades and coloration, and the dates of construction can usually be traced from the second or third stories. Ottawa's...

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  • brdwtchr's General Tip

    Forest Park is one of many nice parks in Ottawa. A few years ago I attended the Kansas Sampler Festival here. The Sampler Fest is a festival to celebrate things to see and do in Kansas. It moves to a new city every couple of years. If I can find pics from the Sampler Fest I'll add them to this page at a later date. The festival is one of my...

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