"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, July 26, 2021

Journey to the Center of the US

Glen Elder, Kansas
Glen Elder State Park

Continuing through north central Kansas on SR 24 we stop in Glen Elder to stay at the Glen Elder State Park which is on Waconda Lake.  It's another nice state park that is spread out and has boondocking sites as well as sites with hook ups.
The corn fields are in the campground area too.  They go on forever in the distance.  The need for flood control on the Soloman River resulted in the building of the Glen Elder Dam in 1969 and creating the lake for boating, fishing and camping.  Kansas State Parks are 100% funded by the park fees.  They do it right here.  All upkeep and improvements are covered.
50a/W, $23, #134.
If you want to boondock right along the lake you can just pull up where ever you want on the grass.  If it weren't 100 degrees out we'd do that.  We need the 50amp site to run both our A/C units.
See those chains on each end of the pad?  I remember hearing about them.  They are in case of very high winds, like in a tornado, so that you can tie down your rig.  We laughed and since we watch the weather closely we knew there were no storms in the forecast so we weren't worried.
We had hoped to get the kayak in the water at least one day, but it was too windy and the whitecaps too big.  No problem.  We found some fun things to do in the nearby towns.  There is a lot of history out here in the middle of no-where.  Kansas was once covered by a shallow ocean known as the Permian Sea.  Limestone was formed when all the organic materials decayed and compressed over millions of years.  This created coal, natural gas, oil and even salt (as in my last post of the Salt Mines).

Just down the highway in the town of Cawker City, population of 433, is the World's Largest Ball of Twine!  Well we've gotta see that!  Our RV friends Lee & Trace of Camper Chronicles had been here before.
It all started in 1953 when Frank Stoeber stumbled over some loose twine on his farm.  Instead of burning it he decided to roll it up in a ball.  And the rest is history.  In 1973 he was added to The Guinness Book of World Records.  You are welcome to add your own piece of twine to this ever-growing ball.  It does have to be Sisal though.  If you don't have any you can walk over to the Belle of the Ball shop and they will give you some.  It was closed due to Covid though so we just took some pictures.
Across the street was this retro gas station.  I happened to talk to the gentleman there and he told me it's actually been restored and is part of several unique guest lodging offerings in the town.  To see more of these check out their website HERE.
As a bonus I met Rex who was staying here at the time.  I had crossed the street to get a better picture of the Ball of Twine.  I didn't talk to him long and I'm sorry I didn't get to ask him about his motorcycle/trailer.  I actually didn't know if it was his or part of the Gas Station.  I did have a chance to look him up recently on his website, LoneStarRider.com  He rides to raise money and awareness for Diabetes in memory of his son.  It's a really cool thing he's doing and you can read about by checking out his website.  We all know someone(s) dealing with Diabetes so check it out.  Maybe our paths will cross again and we can share a better conversation.
While we were on our day drive we found a really cool geocache at a park in Portis, population 91.  Turns out the animator for Porky Pig was from here.  So cool!  I wonder how many people lived there back then?

Only the highway and a couple main roads in the surrounding towns are paved.  Otherwise you're driving on crushed limestone.  It makes for a fluffy, snow looking road.  Amazingly it's less dusty than dirt roads and quite smooth.
We also wanted to visit The Geographic Center of the US that we missed last time we were in Kansas.  Turns out this isn't quite the center.  As the sign says, it's now about 3 miles north, so off we went to check that out too.
Sunsets are so vibrant out here when they set over a wide open horizon.  

With newer measuring equipment, they discovered this was actually the center of the US.  There are markers and other things here to see and read about.
This is the Smallest Church in Kansas.

Very patriotic out here!
As we headed back we passed another one of those retro gas station/guest lodges.
Here we we are back at the lake.  There were a couple of hardy folks boondocked along the shore.
Our last day we drove through the tiny town of Glen Elder, population 423.  Not much here but they did have a nice park across from the huge grain storage silos with a mini-Statue of Liberty.
Across the street was some castle looking building.  It was built in by a gentleman who returned from WWI and wanted it to look like one he'd seen in Luxemburg.  It's is a private home now.
Such a HUGE silo storage for such a tiny town.
Steve wishes they sold T-Shirts!
When the highway becomes Main Street out here it is the original brick surface.  I really love this.  It's nice they didn't pave over it with asphalt.

Stockton, Kansas
Webster Lake State Park
A 1 1/2 hour drive west brings us to another great state park on another lake.  This one had beautiful tall trees that kept us completely shaded.  Very deep sites.  50a/W, $23, #28.
Plus there was a nice grassy area behind the sites.  The lake is in the center of this pic at the end of the campsites.  The weather is still very hot and windy so no kayaking here either.

I found an interesting historical place to visit about 15 minutes away called Nicodemus.
I found this very interesting.  I never heard of African American settlements like this before.
The old church.
The population is only about 25.

I don't mean to bring up things Politically Correct, but with all the fuss these days(mostly understood) of renaming things, I had to chuckle when I saw the name of the school and wondered if there was talk about renaming it?

Several professional athletes grew up here including Gayle Sayers of the Chicago Bears.
Many started out in sod houses before the town was built.  There are only a few buildings and homes left.  When we were there they were actually putting a stage up in the park and getting ready for a festival over the weekend.
Wheat and corn was and is still huge out here.
Ernestine's Bar-B-Q.  Closed.  Not sure if it's because of Covid or it's permanently closed.
Steve trying to help Ernestine.  What would you caption it?!
We tried to hike around part of the lake but even at dusk it was too hot.

I was excited to let Hurley have a swim and play in the lake as he's been inside so much lately with the heat.  Then I saw this sign.  Uh, yuck.  No thanks.  Poor Pooch.
We took another loop drive through more interesting towns and did some geocaches at pioneer cemeteries that probably no one visits anymore.  Usually surrounded by corn files but nicely mowed.
One really neat town was Damar, KS.  Population 155.  Damar was settled in the 1880s, when Francis St. Peter, a Civil War Veteran and French Canadian, was able to purchase 166 acres under the Homestead Act for $4.  Big money back then.  Soon after, many other French Canadians came.  Many of the few town buildings are not occupied but they are neat and tidy and painted with cute French looking details.
It's nice to see they take care of their town instead of letting it look run down.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church sits at the end of Main St. Built in 1929 at the end of the "French Quarter".  I saw pictures of the inside and it is gorgeous.  I wish we could've gone in.
An old abandoned gas station.  Maybe they should talk to Cawker City for revenue ideas.

Zurich, KS, population 126.  St. Ann's Cemetery has a higher population than the town itself.
Just a few homes left.
I'm sure Zurich was lovely in the 1880s.  Besides the cemetery, these 4 dilapidated buildings on Main St. are all that is left.  We stopped in to a nice family grocery store in neighboring Plainsville (population 1804) and bought a few local vegetables and a sandwich made by the 2 young daughters that were running it that day.  Then we treated ourselves to a DQ Blizzard.
Our drive through the area brings us back to Stockton. Population 1,257.  It is more like a city compared to the other towns.  It's brick paved Main St. is the section running through Rt. 24.  Most of the buildings are occupied.  It's nice to see these towns surviving out here.
City Hall with a Veteran's Memorial that was small but very well done.

I was surprised to see a Ballot Drop Box out here.
Cute park with one of many murals in town.
Some old cars at the Chevy dealership.
Next Up: The Oldest Geocache in the World, Rocks & Pyramids, all in Kansas!


  1. Those are some interesting stops. Great pics!
    Safe travels!

    1. Goes to show, even in the middle of no where there are interesting things to see!

  2. That is one state that we have yet to spend any real time in. Looks like there is plenty to see and do! Bummer, you could not get on the water.

  3. Nice they provide tie downs for the rv, wonder if they've ever been needed. More grain bins, has Dave rubbed off on you :) Love small towns!

    1. We had a good laugh at those chains. The grain bins just kept getting bigger. We thought perhaps this town had a little grain bin envy 😄


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