History and Fun in White Cloud

(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) Now that it’s Spring, the scenery is gorgeous. It’s not going to be prettier any other time of the year, so it’s a great time to get around. That reminds me tickets are available for the Symphony in the Flint Hills. That’s June 11th, so make sure you check out their website and of course, the scenery is always gorgeous for that. There’s just not a part of the state that’s not pretty this time of year, is there Frank? (Frank) Yea and that’s especially because out in the Flint Hills and when the sun’s going down, and the symphony starts and it’s like, oh WOW! (Deb) It’s as good as life gets isn’t it? This next segment we’re going to talk about White Cloud, which is the very northeast corner of Kansas. And you got me thinking about this when you were talking about the motorcycle trip to the four corners of Kansas. So, one time I was taking a van tour. It was, I think it was, a Bleeding Kansas Tour north of the Kansas River. So White Cloud was one of our stops and the overlook in White Cloud. Again, this myth that Kansas is flat. We’ve got these, we’re punctuated by these table top landscapes, but that’s just the punctuation. Everything in between is not flat. It is anything but flat. (Frank) Especially… (Deb) And White Cloud (Frank) Especially that northeast corner, it’s like what state am I in? (Deb) That overlook is spectacular. You can see Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa from that overlook. So, we take this van tour up there and it’s been a long day on this tour. We get everybody out and they’re standing there on that platform at the overlook and spontaneously break into singing “Home on the Range.” It was totally unplanned and it was just one of these unique Kansas moments. It was really, really special. (Frank) White Cloud is a really good place to find all kinds of antiques too. (Deb) That’s right. They have the big sale in the Fall of the year. (Frank) Big flea market. (Deb) It’s huge and it’s just a really neat little town. Now they’ve got the casino up there, close by and it’s not far. But it’s just, and another thing they’ve got up close by is the Highland Indian Mission; it’s not far from White Cloud. So, that’s within striking distance you know to go to the Highland Indian Mission, which is really good. We’ll do a segment on that one day too. Ma Hush Kah was his name, in English, White Cloud. For the Iowa Tribe dwelling in these Missouri River bluffs, he was their chief until killed in a battle with the Pawnee in 1854, the year of the Kansas Nebraska Act when whites came pouring into the Territory. It didn’t take long for the newcomers to realize that these bluffs were the ideal location for a town and it thrived, fed by the steamboats that docked at its front door. At its height, the town had a couple of thousand souls. Now, it is less than a couple of hundred but the architecture of the heyday remains and the town is on the National Historic Register. Twice a year, the population swells once again as White Cloud hosts one of the oldest flea markets in the region. The first Sunday in May and the weekend surrounding it, and the first Sunday in September and the weekend surrounding it, hundreds of vendors line the streets and crowd into the public spaces and thousands of visitors come from far-flung states to search for treasures. McCall’s Magazine named White Cloud one of the top ten flea markets in the country. According to event officials, the Ma Hush Kah Museum has not been opened in several years but is reopening for this year’s events. This Museum is full of awesome artifacts, and the building itself is a historical landmark. Another claim to fame of this iconic small town is the creation of the Piggy Bank, ironically, not as a means to accumulating wealth, but in an act of great generosity. In the early 1900’s, a ten-year-old boy, impressed by a traveling missionary’s sermon about lepers, decided to help. The young Wilbur Chapman raised a pig, sold it and donated the $25.00 raised to a boy suffering from leprosy. Wilbur’s gesture caught the imagination of the public and started the “Pig Bank Movement” to help lepers and the name “piggy bank” was coined. A plaque commemorating the boy and the idea of the “piggy bank” is mounted on the Community Christian Church on Main Street. The headquarters and reservation of the Iowa Tribe Of Kanas and Nebraska are just west of town, and the tribe operates a casino there. You’ll find his scenic small town is rich in stories!