Wednesday, August 20 – Council Grove KS

“These are the times that try the soles of men…”

It just popped into my mind and I thought I should share it with you. Starting our dinner tonight, I accidently stepped upon a small (very small) live coal which slipped between two of my toes. Ouch! But I’ll be fine. Really.

We officially arrived in historically minded Council Grove Kansas today. “History Happens Here” is their theme and the town makes a sincere effort to keep their roots going. Because there’s so much here, I won’t try to list or comment on it all. This will be a long entry anyway. Just do an internet search for “Council Grove Kansas History” and you’ll get a basic tour.

In order to spend time at the many sites here, we planned just seven miles of hiking for today, leaving the afternoon to browse. Denny is proud that she got her first blister during our hike. She will be fine. Really.

So, Denny and I were in full costume today; backpack, bonnet, belts, hat and musket. You’d think someone would get a little concerned about me carrying a musket down the major highway, but perhaps it’s more common here in Council Grove.

The Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Board and many businesses work hard to help groups like us. This year they’ve already had two cross county bikers, one trans-continental hiker and are expecting a long-distance horse race event next month.

In 1846, there weren’t any buildings here yet. In July, the Army had positioned a temporary blacksmith shop here to help the wagon trains going west as part of the war effort. It was probably on the east side of the Neosho River where there were lots of trees for use in fixing wagons.

One of the twelve “Madonna of the Prairie” sculptures is here. Craig McNeal interviewed Denny and I there for a newspaper article. Craig is the newspaper’s second generation owner, editor, reporter, photographer, ad-man and promoter of his city. The “Council Grove Republican” is the ONLY remaining daily newspaper published in town this size – about 2,500 souls. Five days a week, Craig and four staff members knock out a local paper that costs just 35 cents. It’s another example of faith, dedication and devotion to ones community.

The modern city has made a nice river walk as part of their historic tour. Another sculpture called “The Guardian of the Grove” stands at the entrance. “The Guardian” depicts a Kaw native brave with lots of symbolism included in the design. It’s an inspiring piece and positive in its message. “Guardian” is another example of faith in the future despite a period of severe trials and disappointments. The Kaw Nation is understandably proud of this monument to their people.

The original river crossing is still evident today. The river is about 20 yards wide and less than a foot deep at the rock crossing, so I hiked across and meandered down Main Street to the west end.

Yesterday, we made arrangements to stop in at the Terwilliger House. Kenneth & Shirley McClintock worked with others to restore an 1860’s home that had been a lot of things over the years. Now it looks much like it did before the turn of the century (1900) and they operate the House as an educational center. It’s set up as a bakery and restaurant with liberal helpings of history on the side.

In addition to being an enjoyable museum, while you dine (very reasonable rates) the opportunity to be educated about the local history, food, cultures and personalities makes a stop at the Terwilliger House something we highly recommend. Shirley is experimenting with native salads and has an interesting story about a native carving she found during the renovations of the building See their info at:

Now, we would be remiss if we did not mention another local business. The Council Grove Dairy Queen is owned by Dick Montgomery – another local promoter and historian. As we came into town, we passed the DQ and were FLOORED to see “Welcome – Mormon Battalion Trek” on their marquee – not once, but TWICE per cycle of the display. Yep, our name has been up in lights. Thanks Dick, for making us feel welcome. We’ll be in for Blizzards on Friday, our 29th anniversary.

And a final PS – Paul Sandor made it home just fine.

NOTICE: Until Monday morning, we will be camped at Neosho Campground at the Council Grove Lake just north of town. Site 5 to be specific. We will still be hiking during the days, but returning here for the nights.

And, we will put on an interpretive program at the Canning Creek Campground on Saturday evening at 7 PM. Bring your own seating.

If you want to follow our progress via GPS on the Internet, go to:

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