Cottonwood Falls

(Frank) We found very interesting people and great places to visit on our 
trip Around Kansas to Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls. Council Grove 
was the last stop on the Santa Fe Trail before heading west back in the Old 
West days. The town is full of history and fun historical stops, you will 
see some of those today. Then turn left and go south on K 177 and you will 
soon be in Cottonwood Falls. You will have to visit the historic Chase 
County Courthouse and many fun interesting shops and don’t miss the 
opportunity to eat at the Emma Chase Cafe, real homestyle cooking and lots 
of entertainment. All of this coming up today as we travel Around Kansas.    
 
Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers. 
 
(Frank) We’re at what is one of my favorite places, that’s the Emma Chase 
Cafe in Cottonwood Falls. I used to come down here with a motorcycle group 
and we’d sit about in the street and listen to some bluegrass music and 
we’re here with Sue Smith, the owner of the Emma Chase Cafe and say hello. 
(Female) Hello. How are you? (Frank) So tell us about the Emma Chase Cafe 
and everything that goes on here besides the wonderful, I hate to say home 
cooked food because you don’t cook it at home and bring it in here, you cook 
it here. (Female) It’s all cooked here, indeed it is. The Emma Chase Cafe 
has been in existence since the early 80’s. When I was a child, this was 
the Five and Dime. I’ve had the cafe since October the first of, let me 
think, ’98 and, so, this is our fifteenth year. We specialize, I guess, or 
we put on the table in front of you, home cooked meals. The number one 
item on this menu, and that’s seven days a week, is chicken fried 
steak with real mashed potatoes and real gravy and our great green beans, 
seasoned with onion and bacon and bread and butter or biscuit and butter, 
depending on whether it’s the weekend or a week day and homemade apple butter. 
(Frank) Oh, my. (Female) Yeah. We make apple butter here several times a 
week and normally we have some canned in the other room for sale. It’s kind 
of hard to keep up with that these days. (Frank) Well that’s good.   
(Female) We serve chicken strips. We try very hard to purchase all of our 
products here in the state of Kansas and our suppliers, EVCO Foods out of 
Emporia and we feature Kansas bison, Flint Hills raised bison and usually, 
when we can get our hands on it, Flint Hills raised elk, but our beef is 
Kansas raised and we serve Angus on our board. (Frank) Wow. (Female) Yeah. 
(Frank) I was just gonna stay, because we had pie for dessert.       
(Female) Absolutely. The pies are made by our friends at Marcon Pie Company 
and as you well know, that’s a homemade pie. It’s just made in one location 
and is delivered to another and we serve more pie than we could possibly 
make here, so. (Frank) So give us an idea of what your hours are? Now 
Sunday, now let me ask you about Sunday, isn’t that a little bit different 
than order off the menu? (Female) Actually for your biker breakfast, it 
might be. Our biker breakfast is on the third Sunday of every month and 
yes, we come down and have a buffet set up on decent weather days, of 
course, at eight o’clock in the morning and that runs until eleven o’clock, 
at which time we revert to the Sunday menu which is Sunday dinner in Chase 
County, Kansas. It’s what we were raised on and chicken fried steak is 
always at the first of that list. We have pan-fried chicken and chicken 
strips for the kids. They love the chicken strips, all served with homemade 
mashed potatoes and gravy and our great green beans and biscuit.     
(Frank) When we come back, we’re going to find out about Friday music at 
the Emma Chase Cafe in Cottonwood Falls. 
 
(Frank) We’re back with Sue at the Emma Chase Cafe. So tell us about the 
Friday night concerts you have. (Female) Charlie Clam, my friend down the 
street at the Fiber Factory and I discussed live music in Cottonwood Falls 
over and over and over again and finally he said one day, For two bits, 
I’d put a sign in the local barbershop to see if anybody wanted to come to 
a live jam session. I gave him the fifty cents and a piece of paper and he 
put the sign in the barbershop and the first night we opened the doors 
would have been the first Friday night in October of ‘99. Twelve people 
showed up with musical instruments and twenty-five family members showed 
up to listen. That was totally unexpected. We have had Friday night jam 
sessions ever since then, outside when we can be, although because of 
the weather and because my husband and I are fifteen years older than we 
used to be, that’s more and more infrequent. We have a beautiful building 
down the street where there is a stage set up and seating available and we 
have had Friday night music for now, this is the fourteenth year. People 
from all over with their instrument show up on a Friday night. We never 
know who’s coming or if anybody’s coming, but on the worst night we ever 
had, there were three musicians and no audience, so there was still Friday 
night music and that was probably a pretty smart thing because there was a 
lot of snow and ice outside that day. It’s been a wonderful ride. It’s 
wonderful. (Frank) I noticed on the website that sometime coming up soon is 
an old time rock n’ roll night. (Female) That was last Friday night, last 
Friday night, the fourth Friday night of every month is old time rock n’ 
roll. The first Friday night of every month is country. The second Friday 
night of every month is bluegrass. The third Friday night of every month is 
gospel. The fourth Friday night is rock n’ roll. A fifth Friday night, a 
rare occurrence on the calendar, will be picking the blues. (Frank) Tell us 
about some other places here in Cottonwood Falls that somebody might want 
to visit after they have had an enjoyable lunch here. (Female) Well just 
bless your heart. Obviously our Chase County Courthouse is our local claim 
to fame. It’s undergoing a bit of a facelift right now, so that’s what the 
scaffolding is all about, but it was begun in 1871, finished in 1873 and 
has been the focal point of our community since forever and she’s in great 
shape. Had a real overhaul five or six years ago and she’s in excellent 
condition. They were telling me this morning that much of the wood, even 
though a little bit of it is charred after a fire many, many years ago, is 
original and even the flagpole which is original wood, so 
she’s quite the lady and we’re proud to have our queen of the Kansas 
prairie right here at the end of our main street. It’s wonderful. Jim Bell 
and Son across the street has been an anchor store in Cottonwood Falls for 
all of my lifetime certainly. It was begun in 1927, is still serving the 
Kansas cowboy.  We have, down the street, Prairie Past 
Times which is the work of forty-five this year, Flint Hills artisans. 
Everything in that store is handcrafted in the Kansas Flint Hills by people 
who live in the Kansas Flint Hills, except for the antiques and we’re not a 
hundred percent sure who made those because none of us are old enough to 
remember. (Frank) That’s why they’re antiques. (Female) Exactly, exactly. 
That’s an interesting store and by word of mouth, has become a very popular 
Christmas shopping destination because our American public is beginning to 
appreciate the idea of Made in America and when it’s made locally, even 
more so than that, it’s very, very important to people now. So that has 
been a wonderful situation. My friend Charlie Clam and his wife Carol have 
the Fiber Factory across the street and they weave they recycle denim and 
make things of yarn. They have, I don’t know, six looms in that front room 
down there and they’re busy weaving all the time. It’s an interesting, 
interesting place to visit and Carol and Charlie are interesting, 
interesting people and that would be a stop that you should not miss on our 
Broadway. (Frank) Well, Sue, thank you for taking time to speak with us 
today. I must as you, where did the name Emma Chase come from?       
(Female) Actually when the store was begun in the early 80’s, the first 
lessors of the store were a couple of young ladies with fresh degrees from 
Kansas State University and they name it The Emma Chase, so that it 
would appear to have a historical tie-in. Our county was named after Salmon 
P. Chase who was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and Emma 
because they both thought of the name, beautiful old-fashioned name 
simultaneously, so it’s been the Emma Chase Cafe ever since and it’s served 
us well because it makes people like you ask that question. (Frank) You 
must come to the Emma Chase Cafe. It is a destination. 
 
BREAK
 
(Frank) Obviously we’re in front of the Chase County Chamber of Commerce 
building and this is Chris Larkin, the Co-Director of the Chamber, is that 
correct? (Female) That is correct. (Frank) Okay. Can you tell us everything 
about Cottonwood Falls and Chase County. (Female) Well it’s a wonderful 
place and one of the things that we’re most proud of and hopefully you’ll get 
a shot of it is our wonderful historic Courthouse and it is still fully functional. 
In fact, it is the oldest functioning courthouse in the state of Kansas. It 
was built in 1873 and it’s magnificent. The outside was stone quarried from 
the area and the inside has a beautiful stairwell. Hopefully you’ll go in 
and it was made from black walnut trees that were milled out of our 
Cottonwood River. So that is, of course, as you can tell, I’m very 
passionate about it and it is such a fun thing to go through and be a 
docent and go through and tell everybody about it. The other things that 
we are really well-known for, of course, is the Tall Grass Prairie. I think 
you’ve been out there this morning. It is our last vestige of tall grass 
prairie in the United States and it goes down into Oklahoma, but it is the 
last part that was never actually plowed under and, so, it is real 
important to keep that intact and then south of town, we have a wonderful 
old home, Pioneer Bluffs, one of the first settlers that came to this area built 
it and they have restored the barn and the house and everything and, 
so, you can go down there and see how people actually lived when they first 
came here in 1853. So these are the things that we love about it, but the 
other thing is that we love about it is that it’s so quaint. It’s like 
being back in the 1950’s here. If you go down to Dieker’s Oil, you drive 
through, they’ll actually come out and pump your gas. It’s not any extra, 
it’s just that’s the way it is, so we love that about it and you feel very 
safe. Our kids feel safe riding their bikes here and just getting out and 
being kids, so it’s really, really wonderful for that too. (Frank) Okay, a 
great place to visit and a great place to live, Cottonwood Falls, Chase 
County, Kansas. (Welcome to Kansas Song)
(Frank) Council Grove, the Santa Fe Trail, August 10th, 1825, Commissioners 
from the United States and the Osage Indians met in a grove, that one, and 
established a treaty that allowed whites to travel through the Osage lands 
in perpetuity, thus was born the Santa Fe Trail, so the west was open. How 
did they get there? We’ll take a look. Most of the time, they walked. Can 
you imagine hundreds of miles? Musket in one hand, a baby in her arms, this 
is the Madonna of the Trail. This is what is left of the oak tree that they 
met under on August 10th, 1825. Council Grove on the Santa Fe Trail, in fact, 
back in the 1820’s and 1840’s, it was really the last piece of civilization 
you were gonna see for hundreds of miles. What this is, is all that’s
left of an eighty foot oak tree that once acted as a post office 
along the trail. There weren’t any post offices at the time, but people left 
messages in a hole in the bottom of this oak. Unfortunately, it died in 
1990 and this is all that remains. Help, help, it’s the old calaboose, the 
jail in 1849, Council Grove. You didn’t really want to be in a place like 
this because chances are, you got dragged out and hung somewhere, good 
grief. Well look here, we were wondering where this is. I guess we found 
it, but we still have to go there and we still have to find it. Well we 
didn’t actually find the old stone barn just east of Council Grove. Now 
this barn was built in 1871 by Seth Hayes, the first permanent white 
settler in this area. How do I know that? I read it on the sign. The Flint 
Hills of Kansas, just east of Council Grove, now it’s a place where there’s 
just serenity, take a listen. The only sounds are the breeze and a few 
birds. No wonder there were singing cowboys. 
 
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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