Day 23: November 23, 2016
Into Kansas

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I went to roost at the Chek Inn in Lamar, Colorado. As with many of my picks these days, the Chek Inn was selected based on TripAdvisor reviews. While I think some of those may be just a little too enthusiastic in this instance, my room was more than adequate and reasonably priced.

I didn't realize that I'd be near any of the Madonna of the Trail markers when I decided to take a more northerly route home but as soon as I did they became important targets. At some point I noticed a town called Lamar about fifty miles east of La Junta. The named seemed familiar and I quickly realized that it was because one of the Madonnas was there. In 1928, a Madonna of the Trail marker was placed in each of the twelve states through which the National Old Trails Road passed. At the start of this trip I'd seen ten. I will have seen all twelve by the time I get home.

I actually saw this, my eleventh Madonna, for the first time last night but it was a little too dark for decent photos. The low morning sun behind the statue didn't help with this morning's photo taking. On top of that, I'm so unaccustomed to encountering a new Madonna that when I snapped this picture I was thinking that it was the only unique inscription on the statue. In truth, only two of the four sides have inscriptions common to all twelve statues with the other two sides being unique for each.

The Madonna is in a small park adjacent to the old railroad station. The station is now a visitor center surrounded by evidence of Lamar's place on National Old Trails Road component the Santa Fe Trail and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway along with a thoroughly modern giant wind turbine blade.

Lamar is also home to this petrified wood structure which is currently the office for a used car lot.

That panel at the Lamar Visitor Center says the Daughter of the American Revolution placed thirty-six stone markers along the Santa Fe Trail near the beginning of the twentieth century. This one, near the town of Coolidge, Kansas, is the first I've seen. Coolidge is just a couple of miles from the Colorado line. The other two photos were taken about forty miles to the east near Lakin, Kansas. Time kept me from walking out to the wagon ruts described on the plaque but the grass differences it mentions can be seen in the last photo.

I had not researched this route much at all but was just following the current official US-50. I know I've missed many bits of older alignments and have driven around several towns. Sometimes a business route is actually the original alignment and it will always provide a better look at a town than the bypass. I opted for Business 50 through Garden City which didn't provide much history but did result in a pair of encounters with a blade runner. I don't know the dimensions of this specific wind turbine blade but they are typically well over a hundred feet long or more than double the length of most semi trailers. Turning them takes some space. As I was getting off of the four-lane bypass to go through town, the blade carrying truck was getting on to go around it. Our transit times were about the same so that shortly after I got back on the four-lane I came upon the truck getting off. Both turns required traffic to be stopped.

Here's a collection of stuff in and around Dodge City. The first picture as taken a few miles west of town at another spot where Santa Fe Trail wagon tracks can be seen but once again I did not spend the time to walk out to them. This particular spot was a campsite for surveyors of the trail and there is also a DAR marker. In the winter of 1822-23, the Baird/Chambers trading party was forced to cache its merchandise near the marker in the second picture. They retrieved the merchandise during the following summer. The two sundials, one for Mountain Time and the other for Central, are in downtown Dodge City. The last picture is an over-the-shoulder shot as I drove east out of the city.

I stopped for the night in Council Grove, Kansas, and headed to the Hays House for dinner. I opted for the buffet which included the skillet fried chicken they tout as a speciality. It was very good but I enjoyed the history even more. In the basement some of the original wall lathes can be seen along with the 1857 bar.

The historic buildings of downtown Council Grove look rather nice outlined in lights for Christmas.

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