Clyde Tombaugh, Cassoday Bike Run

(Frank) Today Around Kansas introduces us to Clyde Tombaugh, a Kansan who discovered the planet Pluto in 1930. Next we’ll see how the monthly Cassoday Bike Run got started and why it’s such a fun Kansas event. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and learn how Scotsman George Grant re-invented the American cattle industry in 1873.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Hmmm, must be Wednesday again. (Deb) It must be Frank. Man, the week goes by awfully fast doesn’t it? (Frank) Hi, I’m Frank Chaffin. (Deb) And I’m Deb Goodrich, good morning. And this is Around Kansas. (Deb) And we’ve been around Kansas, I tell you what, this has been a summer of being on the road, quite a bit. (Frank) Well, I guess. Oh and also, I need to put these on, because there are some caricatures of us and in those I’m wearing the glasses. (Deb) I gotta thank my good friend, Patty King, who is an incredibly talented singer and the other day she was just sending me messages on Facebook and she had started doing these cartoons of me and then me and Frank and they’re just awesome. And it’s like, she’s illustrating the life I really want to have Frank. (Frank) Yea, well. (Deb) So, if you check out our Facebook page, you’ll see those great, great fun cartoons from Patty King. (Frank) Yea. So, what have you been up to? (Deb) I meet myself coming and going. Honestly there’s just so much happening. Heather and I have been out in western Kansas quite a bit of course. I spoke out there a couple times. And just love going back. And you know the 60th Anniversary of Gunsmoke is coming up in Dodge City this fall and there’s so many things going on. I think this weekend I’ll be down at Council Grove for the Michael Martin Murphy concert. There’s…I don’t care where you are…you know it was really neat when we were in Oberlin and then when I was down at Sharon Springs, they were talking about the county fair. So everybody all over the state is gearing up for their county fairs and it’s just such a fun time when you’ve got all the 4-H kids doing stuff and people getting their exhibits together. I have to brag when I was in North Carolina and Virginia, I have a lot of blue ribbons and a few red ones and maybe a purple one or two from when I would enter flower arrangements in the fair. Yes, yes. And I might just do it again. (Frank) Fairs are a tradition in Kansas. (Deb) Aren’t they? (Frank) If nothing else, just drive around and go to all of ’em. You find a lot of food and a lot of fun and a lot of music. (Deb) Sure. (Frank) And so it’s just another thing that makes Kansas a great state. (Deb) It does and we have so much fun looking at all the images that people are already posting. I shared a couple on Facebook that people have made, merry-go-rounds and just different things, so share your pictures with us on Facebook of all the fair activities and whatever else you’re doing. We love seeing what you’re doing Around Kansas. (Frank) Yea. We’ll be back.

(Frank) And we’re back. So, hey you know, what, a week or so ago, Pluto got a fly by. (Deb) It sure did. (Frank) Now, not the Walt Disney Pluto… (Deb) I don’t know what he’s doing. We’re not keeping tabs on him. But of course, Pluto that was discovered by a Kansan in 1930, I think. Yea, so making the news once more. Frank, do you know who the Vice President was when Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto? (Frank) In 1930? (Deb) Hm huh, it was another Kansan. (Frank) Oh, let’s see, oh yea, that would be Curtis. (Deb) It would, Charles Curtis. So, isn’t that cool, we had two really prominent Kansans in the news in 1930. (Frank) So, let’s find out about the guy that discovered Pluto, which is now again, officially a planet. (Deb) Nine and half years after it left the earth, NASA’s New Horizons spaceship reached Pluto, or got close anyways. As it neared the newly designated dwarf planet this July, scientists realized that it was bigger than had been thought. Maybe they will be forced to rethink its demotion. Onboard this historic spacecraft are the ashes of the Kansan who found Pluto in 1930, sparking a resurgence of interest in the young man who grew up in Burdett. When a hailstorm destroyed the family’s crops, it also destroyed young Clyde Tombaugh’s hopes of going to college. Undaunted, he taught himself geometry and trigonometry. When he was 20, he built his first telescope, and he kept building them. He made detailed drawings of the heavens, which he sent to Lowell Observatory in Arizona, who hired the young man. He was 24 years old in 1930 when he discovered Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system. After that, he went to college earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas. During his years at Lowell Observatory, Tombaugh discovered hundreds of new variable stars, hundreds of new asteroids and two comets. He found new star clusters, clusters of galaxies including one super cluster of galaxies. In all, he counted over 29,000 galaxies. Tombaugh remained at Lowell until he was called to service during World War II. The astronomer taught navigation to the U.S. Navy at Arizona State College in Flagstaff from 1943 to 1945. After the war, Lowell Observatory was unable to rehire Tombaugh due to a funding shortfall, so in 1946, he returned to work for the military at the ballistics research laboratories of the White Sands Missile Range in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he supervised the optical instrumentation used in testing new missiles. In the course of this work, Tombaugh designed many new instruments, including a super camera called the IGOR, Intercept Ground Optical Recorder, which remained in use at White Sands for 30 years before it was finally improved upon. The canister containing Tombaugh’s ashes bears this inscription, written by Alan Stern, the head of the New Horizons Mission: Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s third zone. Adella and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh, 1906-1997.

(Frank) We have too much fun on this show. (Deb) We do, we do. Our cartoons don’t even do us justice do they? (Frank) Yea so. (Deb) Have you recovered from your big bike ride, Frank? (Frank) Well, kinda. That was a long ride. I haven’t been down to Cassoday in some time. And Cassoday of course, is First Sunday, every Sunday between April and October. So, it’s about a 200 mile round trip, but I’m not gonna get ahead of the story. The only problem is, is I had a riding buddy that this was the first he had been on the road in 20 years. So, by the time we got there most of the vendors and the motorcycles were like gone…so like the visuals you are gonna see on this came from somewhere else. (Deb) You know, Cassoday the first time that I was ever there, this was not long after I moved to Kansas, 20 some years ago, and I had to go visit one of the Butler County schools. So, I got off the highway there at Cassoday and stopped and got a hamburger and something to drink and then I just started driving. And I did not see a car for I don’t know, 30, 40, 50 miles and that was before everybody had a cell phone, like it would matter anyway. So I’m looking at all the ranch signs. I couldn’t see a ranch house anywhere in sight, and I’m like you could die here, you could just, if you broke down on the side of the road, where would you go? But gosh it’s beautiful country. (Frank) It is. (Deb) It was a harvest moon that night. When I was driving back, it was a harvest moon in the Flint Hills. And I thought, gosh it’s incredible. It’s so pretty. (Frank) It’s really kind of a crossroads and that’s kinda what got it started. So, let’s take a look. Sunday, July 5th, turned out to be a sunny, warm summer day. Your reporter has not been to a Cassoday Bike-In for a few years now. A friend of mine got a new-to-him motorcycle. I suggested we ride to Cassoday for 1st Sunday, as it is called, so he could get a real feel for the new ride. My friend had not been on a bike for several years. I figured I’d lead him through great terrain on our trek from Topeka to Cassoday. It would be an easy ride and one that would take us through the beautiful Flint Hills. There would be plenty of opportunity to stop; and roadways with hills and turns are a lot of fun. The route was K4 through Dover and Eskridge, to K-177 south to Council Grove. We got started a bit late so we missed breakfast at Hays House in Council Grove. But a great brisket lunch and it was the first day for the most delicious fresh peach pie on planet earth. We had some! Now, south on K-177 we met several motorcycle groups headed north. They had been in Cassoday and were heading elsewhere. Mack, my riding buddy, was getting used to his Honda Shadow. Well, we arrived in Cassoday about 1:30 in the afternoon. Yep, it was pretty much over for the day. Hence, my plan for a lot of pictures for this story was dashed. But, I told Mack that next time we’d get an earlier start and he would witness a small town transformed into a mini-Sturgis with a few thousand bikes and bikers from everywhere. Not the 1%’ers, but men and women who put on the leathers and ride the weekends for fun. You see the whole 1st Sunday thing started with some bikers stopping at the small café in town one day back in 1991. They were a bunch from the Christian Biker Association that enjoyed riding through the Flint Hills. They asked the café owner to stay open on Sundays so they could come eat breakfast there before riding on. The owner agreed as long as at least 30 bikers would come in. The rest is history as they say. Now 1st Sunday from April thru October is Cassoday Bike Run! As many as 7,000 bikers now ride in. They are met with food and fun and many types of motorcycles. It is truly a sight to see. Cassoday is located right off I-35 on the Scenic Byway K-177. But it’s more fun to ride through the scenic Flint Hills. If you’re a biker ride in on August 2nd, you will enjoy the ride!

Way down in south Texas, more than a hundred years ago, there was a feller practicing law in San Antonio. He got title to a cowherd in payment of a debt somehow, which was a problem cause he knew nothing about raising a cow. So he hired some local fellows to look after this herd, but they were pretty lazy, according to this word. They didn’t keep the herd together, and many want astray, and they failed to brand the calves that were born along that way. It was a losing proposition, as that lawyer could tell, so he gave up on that herd and decided he would sell. He sold the herd on terms they called Range Delivery, which meant the buyer had to catch those cattle running free. So the buyer went out and began to look around, claiming title to every unclaimed or orphan calf that was found. What makes this story part of an interesting trick is that the name of the lawyer was Samuel Maverick. So when the buyer went to gather stock on his business’s behalf, when he found a calf alone, he’d say, That’s a maverick calf. The term was used so much that Maverick became a word meaning anyone who is not part of the mainstream of a herd. So that’s the story of how the term Maverick came to be, from the plains of Texas, with Longhorn cattle running free. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) So Frank, what’s your favorite kind of steak? (Frank) Oh, anything that kind of moos. No, of course, filet. (Deb) Yea, I really like filets too. What about a breed? Do you…does it matter to you what kind of animal it was before it died? (Frank) Hmmm, no. (Deb) Well, when I was growing up, we raised Angus. That was the taste that I grew up with. And we had a small herd compared to most of the folks in Kansas. I think the most we ever had was maybe 60 head of cattle or something. But for southwestern Virginia that’s a pretty decent size because you know the cows they used to joke that they had the two legs shorter than the others so they can… (Frank) On the hill. (Deb) Exactly, so that they can stand on the hillsides. And one of these days I’ll tell you all the story about Merkel, our wandering bull that we finally had to put in the freezer to take care of. If it hadn’t been for a man that settled in Kansas, we wouldn’t of had those Angus cattle. (Frank) Really? (Deb) That’s exactly right. (Frank) Hmm, I think we’re gonna find out. (Deb) I think we will. Saint George’s Cemetery is off the beaten path. In fact, the directions tell you to get off I-70 at Exit 168 and drive south several miles until the road ends. The location makes it all the more surprising to find the massive limestone pyramid marking the grave of a Scotsman. The not so subtle hint to his significance is the statue of a Black Angus bull on top of the monument. The man whose remains lie here re-invented the American cattle industry and forever altered the standards of quality beef. Scotsman George Grant dreamed of an English colony in Kansas. He chose the plains of Ellis County and convinced his well-heeled friends that the English aristocracy would become western cattle barons. In 1873, he imported four Angus bulls from Westertown, Scotland. When two of the George Grant bulls were exhibited in the fall of 1873 at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition, some considered them freaks because of their polled, or naturally hornless, heads and solid black color. Shorthorns were then the dominant breed. Grant, a forward thinker, crossed the bulls with native Texas longhorn cows, producing a large number of hornless black calves that survived well on the winter range. The Angus crosses wintered better and weighed more the next spring, the first demonstration of the breed’s value in their new homeland. The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners in turn helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock. Grant died in 1878 and many of his friends returned to Scotland. His dream did not die with him, however. The American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders’ Association, name shortened in 1950s to American Angus Association, was founded in Chicago on November 21, 1883, with 60 members. The growth of the Association has paralleled the success of the Angus breed in America. In the first century of operation, more than 10 million head were recorded. The Association records more cattle each year than any other beef breed association, making it the largest beef breed registry association in the world.

(Frank) Well I guess that’s kinda it? (Deb) I guess it is. (Frank) So, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you… (Both) Somewhere Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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