Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, Incorporated, BNSF Railway

Frank) Today on Around Kansas we start with a look at the Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, Incorporated. Next learn about the huge investment BNSF Railway is making in Kansas this year. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a Presidential Survey from C-Span in which historians rank presidential performances over the years.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank Chaffin) Good morning. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) This is Around Kansas. (Deb) Happy George Washington’s birthday. (Frank) Yes. George. (Deb) George. I grew up in Virginia, so I am of course very proud of George Washington. Actually, Frank, believe it or not, I was gifted and modest too. When I was in high school, I went to, as one of my recommendation letters said, “the governor’s gifted school” or something. (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) I forget how he said it. Anyway, every state has its gifted program. It was really wonderful, but I got to go to Mary Washington College. Mary Washington, of course, was the president’s mother. Her maiden name was Ball, so we roomed in Mary Ball Hall. The girls stayed in there and there was a beautiful marble statue of her in the entryway. My roommate and I, Lisa Hardy, being equally gifted and irreverent, we would go down and we would decorate the statue of Mary Ball Hall. Of course, nobody knows it was us. Nobody suspected me because I was such a nice girl, so nobody suspected me of this. We would put makeup on her. Sometimes we’d put underwear on her, bras and girdles, and stuff. We’d put thought bubbles. We’d draw on a poster board and tape up. Every day, the powers that be would come downstairs and be horrified that somebody had taken the figure of the president’s sainted mother and done this [sighs], yes. (Frank) [Laughs] Oh my. (Deb) My sordid past. (Frank) Yes, so anyway, it’s George Washington’s birthday today. (Deb) It’s George Washington’s birthday. He really didn’t chop down the cherry tree or he really didn’t tell the truth about it, one or the other, but he had a wonderful publicist apparently, Frank. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) Maybe the best ever. Of course, the press was mighty vicious back then as contrary to what you might think. They were pretty mean-spirited back then. He was not universally loved, but he was pretty universally respected. [Laughs] (Frank) He was one of the biggest whiskey makers in the country at the time too. Did you know that? (Deb) Virginia, yes. (Frank) Did you know that you can’t buy alcohol on election day because it used to be whoever had the most whiskey usually won the election. (Deb) Usually won, yes. Back in the good old days. That’s how it was. (Frank) Well, he had lots. (Deb) He had lots, yes. (Frank) No, he was well respected. (Deb) I agree he was a pretty amazing man. Have you ever been to Mount Vernon? (Frank) No, I have not. (Deb) Oh, man. I do wish we could find a trip that everybody could go to see Mount Vernon because it is something. To see Jefferson is often touted as being well rounded, so is Washington. His home is evidence of that, so I wish we could do that. My friends, Shane Sealy at Wide Awake Films are doing films on Washington and Mount Vernon, so maybe we’ll share those with you some time. Anyway, lots of stuff today. Stay with us.

(Frank) We’re back again. This program is about the people, places, and things that make Kansas a really great place to be. We have a lot of museums around this state because, after all, the state has a tremendous amount of history. Anyway, the reason I am saying that is because she has a story about a museum. (Deb) Yet another museum. I just keep finding them. But what makes these museums and these places; it all comes back to the people. I don’t care if we’re talking about people now or people a hundred years ago, but it all comes back in the people. While we were at Smith Center for the Home on the Range screening a few weeks ago, I ran into Steve Richardson, who is the head of the Cawker City Historical Society and apparently an incredible organist. We’re visiting about the Cawker City Museum. I’m ashamed to tell you. I didn’t realize Cawker City had a museum. It is beautiful. Oh, my gosh. Just wait until you see the pictures. This is so pretty and he’s just an amazing person. What this community has done there, it’s just a great story. Again, it goes back to those grassroots efforts to preserve what’s unique in each community. I think you’re going to really love this. When you go out to Cawker City and visit this in person, you tell them that Around Kansas sent you. There’s more to see in Cawker City than the legendary ball of twine. The city marked its centennial in 1971 and the Cawker City Museum was created just in time. The museum occupied the former library when it moved to a more spacious building. The old library was perfect. It has the distinction of being the first building built by a Woman’s Club in Kansas and the architecture embodies the area’s pioneer heritage. It is on the National Register of Historic Sites. The historic building began showing signs of its age and funds were short. Artifacts were packed and stored as plans were made for a much needed roof. The museum reorganized as the Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, Inc. The new name reflects the origins of the “Woman’s Hesperian Library Club” who built the edifice. A substantial gift from Elsie and Art Vesco Trust provided the seed money for the restoration of the old library building, but more funds were needed. Volunteer labor and a unique plan restored the roof. Replacement metal shingles were purchased for $5 each and the donor wrote a tribute or message on the back of it with a permanent magic marker. These metal shingles from the Berridge Manufacturing Co. were an exact match to the original ones patented in 1882. The museum re-opened in August by appointment.

(Deb) Woo, woo. (Frank) [Sings] “The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” (Deb) Yes, there’s a song that would roll over our heads. (Frank) Yes, yes, of course. One of the founders of Topeka. He was also a founder of the Santa Fe Railroad, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. The railroad has been featured in so many movies. In a lot of Westerns, you’d see as a locomotive come in and had Santa Fe on it and all of that. (Deb) Yes, and it opened up the west, southwest, yes. (Frank) Yes. Well, when I grew up, I was in a railroader family. They worked for the Santa Fe. He started when he was in high school. He started in the yards and was a laborer, and then moved up in the ranks, and then was the storekeeper in Topeka for a number of years before he retired. A lot of people in Topeka worked for the railroad, the Santa Fe, at one time. (Deb) A lot of people throughout Kansas in different towns worked for the railroad have that very important connection to the railroad. (Frank) Yes. Of course, then, Santa Fe emerged with Burlington Northern. Now, it’s BNSF, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The story I’m going to do is about some improvements that they’re about to make. This is gigantic. (Deb) It’s a really big deal. Certainly it affects, not only all the commerce through Kansas, but a lot of the jobs in Kansas, so good news. (Frank) Yes, let’s take a look. BNSF Railway, headquartered in Fort Worth, has announced plans to invest $125 million in Kansas as part of its overall $3.4 billion capital expenditure plan this year. That will include the route that serves Amtrak. Investments in Kansas will include track maintenance work, including new ties and rail on portions of track between Wellington and Kansas City, and from Emporia to Garden City. Plus expanding an auto facility in Kansas City. Kansas is one of just eight states of the 28 served by BNSF that will see more than $100 million in improvements. Since 2013 BNSF has invested more than $710 million in Kansas. The largest component of the 2017 system-wide capital expenditure plan is $2.4 billion to replace and maintain BNSF’s core network and related assets, including replacing and upgrading rail, rail ties and ballast, and maintaining its rolling stock. This year’s maintenance program system-wide will include approximately 20,000 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work and the replacement of about 600 miles of rail and nearly 3 million rail ties. Rounding out the plan will be $400 million for expansion projects, $100 million for the implementation of positive train control and $400 million for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions. BNSF was created in 1995 from the merger of the parent companies of Burlington Northern Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. BNSF is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. Topeka native Carl Ice has been CEO of BNSF since 2001.

(Ron Wilson) Today, the American Angus Association is the largest breed association in the United States. People may not know that that breed originated in the British Isles, but then was brought all the way to Kansas. This poem is entitled Birth Of A Breed. It was on the 17th of May, way back in 1873 that Kansas welcomed in some cattle that would change beef history. Near the town of Victoria out on the Kansas plains, a man named George Grant wanted to boost his cattle gains. To improve the native bloodlines and reduce the needed culls, on that day, George Grant brought in four Aberdeen Angus bulls. Can you imagine the sight when those beefy cattle arrived where nothing but short horns or rangy long horns had survived? It must have been a funny scene that the neighbors thought contrary when those black-hided cattle arrived out on the Kansas prairie. When those calves were born, then the farmers’ opinion moved because the influence of those bulls made the cattle much improved. The Angus breed developed and grew for all to see. The Angus Breed Association was formed in 1883. The American Angus Auxiliary was formed in 1952, supporting youth showing and scholarship and all the good they do. Like when George Grant brought those bulls here in that way, Angus bulls still bring improvement in cattle herds today. Since the hungry people of the world have protein as a need, we’re thankful for this immigration of the Angus breed. Happy Trails.

(Frank) Back again. This is Around Kansas. I’m Frank. She’s Deb. Deb is somebody. (Deb) [Laughs] (Frank) She really is. Anyway, she can tell you. (Deb) Yes. C-SPAN, once again, has asked several renowned historians throughout the nation and me to participate in their C-SPAN survey of presidential leadership for 2017. I participated in the 2009 survey. I believe there’s a few dozen, a little over a hundred maybe, historians. I am very proud of this because Brian Lamb actually signed this. Look at this, Frank. Brian Lamb actually signed this letter to me. Yes, Vanna. Hold that while I talk. Brian Lamb’s actual signature, folks. The first letter I got from Brian Lamb, this is what a nerd I am, I actually framed it, so it’s hanging in my office because Brian Lamb is one of my heroes. He made TV safe for nerds. What C-SPAN does I think is remarkable. This is, folks, the official — this is what they actually send you. I actually completed this and then did mine online which I struggled with, because being a historian, you know the whole technology thing, but you have these criteria; public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with congress, vision, setting an agenda, pursued equal justice for all, and performance within the context of his time. It’s funny to me that Lincoln usually wins and I don’t know how, having talked about today is Washington’s birthday, how can Lincoln beat out George Washington? Who set the stage for everything to come? I don’t get that. I don’t get that. Not on my watch. Though Ike comes pretty close. [Laughs]. (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) He comes pretty close. In fact, I started looking and I haven’t averaged these up but Ike might have actually beat out Washington on my survey too.” So I don’t know how that’s possible either. (Frank) See, so there you go. (Deb) There you go and you just never know. Let people think for themselves and God only knows what you’ll come up with. But I’m very proud to be a part of this and very proud to share it with you. Send Brian Lamb a message and tell him that how much he is appreciated in Kansas. (Frank) That’s a real signature. (Deb) C-Span is once again asking historians throughout the nation to rank presidential performance. Its previous surveys, in 2000 and 2009, continue to be cited by the press and serve as benchmarks reflecting changing views of the presidencies. The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership asks participants to assess each of the chief executives on ten criteria. While individual results are not released, C-Span does release the names of those participating and yours truly is among them. Guiding the project is C-Span’s team of presidential historians and biographers: Douglas Brinkley of Rice University; Edna Greene Medford of Howard University and Richard Norton Smith. With their input, invitations to participate were sent to just over 100 presidential historians and professional observers of the presidency, wrote Executive Chairman Brian Lamb. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt were among the highest rated while Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush and James Buchanan came in at the bottom. And my top picks? I cannot forget my roots as a Virginian and thus Washington always comes in first in my accounting. And since I am also a Kansan, Eisenhower is rated pretty highly as well. Lincoln and FDR win top spots, but I give Andrew Johnson higher marks than he receives from many other historians. He was in a nearly impossible position after the assassination of Lincoln. . . but that’s a story for another day. For the complete results of the 2017 survey, visit (Frank) Out of time again. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas. (Deb) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

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