Crazy Days

(Deb) Welcome to today’s episode of Around Kansas. We had the great fortune to visit the community of Moline, a Little Town with a Big Heart. And when you watch this episode, you’ll be convinced that that is a well deserved slogan for this little town. We had a wonderful time and we know you’ll have a wonderful time joining us.

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

(Deb) One of the biggest features of Crazy Days this year was the
reenactment of the shooting of Bullet Hole Ellis from the Civil War
on the border between Kansas and Missouri. Now my good friend Randy Durbin who happens to be the banker in Overbrook but a native of Moline, played Bullet Hole Ellis himself. And there were hundreds of people gathered in the City Park to watch this reenactment despite the heavy rain that had happened that morning and was threatening for the rest of the day. So, let me tell you a bit about the story of Bullet Hole Ellis. He was actually a school teacher. He actually employed William Clark Quantrill, yes the notorious guerrilla from over in Missouri. He employed him as a school teacher for a while in Paola. So, he actually knew Quantrill. Well, during the war in 1862, Ellis had actually traveled up to Leavenworth to let the general know that they were really concerned about incursions along the border. And he was staying in a hotel in Aubrey. Now Aubrey is just south of Kansas City, right on the state line. When Quantrill and his guerrillas came into town, Ellis heard the shooting, he went to the window of his hotel, Quantrill wheeled and shot him while he was sitting in the saddle, he wheeled and shot Ellis striking him right in the middle of his forehead. Miraculously Ellis survived. He was forever after known as Bullet Hole Ellis, however. They removed it that day, the bullet and some fragments from his skull, which are on display now in Washington, D.C., in one of the museums there. So, it was just one of those legendary stories. Well, after the war is over he winds up moving down the Elk County, so he is actually buried there. He lived until the 1880’s and is buried in Elk County. That connection was very real and one that Randy really wanted to portray in this reenactment. And of course, it takes a lot of people, a lot of effort to put something like that together. And the town of Moline had a wonderful time and the reenactors had a great time putting this event on. They just worked so hard to bring it all together. One of the things that they actually reenacted was the ransoming of a town. That didn’t happen there. It was one that Randy actually took from the ransom of a little town in Maryland during the war. One of the details from that is that they only got the ransom paid, I think in 1951. They had to issue bonds in the town to pay off the ransom so the Confederates wouldn’t burn their town, so they issued bonds among the towns people and they just got them paid in ’51. So that was just one of the little details from the war in general that just added to the interest and entertainment value of the reenactment.

(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas. And I am sitting here with Barbara Durbin and this wonderfully comfortable lodge and what a great story we have for you today on Around Kansas right here in the heart of Moline. Barbara, thanks for being with us. (Barbara) Oh, you’re welcome. (Deb) Now the building that we’re in that is now the Crooked Creek Lodge and the Swinging Bridge Cafe, this is… number one; it’s the only cafe in Moline now. (Barbara) Yes. (Deb) And is this the only lodging in Moline? (Barbara) Yes. (Deb) Ok, and you would never know it to
look at it now, it was a nursing home. (Barbara) Yes. (Deb) Well, tell us about how this transformation happened, this is really amazing. (Barbara) Well, the people that owned this shut it down and donated it to the city. And then my late husband and I bought it because we just don’t have any place to stay here in this part of the county. (Deb) Right. (Barbara) And turned it into a place to stay. (Deb) Well, the transformation…and you were telling me your late husband didn’t have quite the vision for decorating that you… (Barbara) No. (Deb) … and your daughters and sisters have. So the task you gave him was cutting up feed sacks. (Barbara) Yes, he could just not imagine that feed sacks would do anything in here and he finally just said, “I am not doing this.” And then when we did finish it, it looks like leather and he was just so amazed at it, that he just said, “OK, I’m turning this over to you. I am not saying anything else. ” (Deb) Well, this is a tremendous asset for the community. Now, we were talking, you serve family reunions in addition to the hunters every fall. (Barbara) Yes, and we have a lot of construction guys that come. And we try to make them feel at home since they are away from their homes. And a lot of them have stayed here for a year, you know, working in the area. And we’re always blessed that when some one leaves, we have somebody else come in. (Deb) Barbara, the restaurant, that’s the only place to eat in Moline? (Barbara) Right, yes. (Deb) So, that’s really the heart of the community in a lot of ways now. (Barbara) Yes, I have everyday I have someone tell me, “We are so grateful you are here.” So we have people come, bunches to come have coffee and visit in the morning and they have their certain places that they sit and you better not sit in their chair. But it’s just kind of the heart of the community now. (Deb) Well, that’s just a wonderful thing. And your husband, talk about your husband because he used to…he was the waitress for a while. (Barbara, Oh yes. (Deb) Wasn’t he? (Barbara) Yes, yes he was. He was quite our VIP for a while because he lived here all of his life. We ranched here and then we opened this up because of the need of having it. But he took orders and he poured coffee, and of course he was our historian because people would come and want to know information about their family and unfortunately all of that information passed away with him. And we miss him terribly. (Deb) But you sure feel him all around here, don’t you? (Barbara) Yes, we do. We do. He’s still with us. (Deb) Now, you employ 12 people, so that makes you one of the most significant employers in Moline. (Barbara) Yes, us and the rock quarry and the Mills Feed and Supply. Our little town is… you know we’re losing a lot of people. (Deb) Sure. Yes, like a lot of the towns that are struggling. Not only in Kansas. (Barbara) Yes. (Deb) But throughout the Midwest and everywhere. But what a great cornerstone this is to keeping the community alive, really revitalizing it. (Barbara) And we have people come from all over here. (Deb) Now do you have a website where people can find you? (Barbara) Yes we do. We do. They can also go on the city of Moline. (Deb) OK. (Barbara) And get to our website there. (Deb) Wonderful. Well, thanks so much. And I just can’t tell you how comfortable this is. It’s been wonderful staying here. (Barbara) Well, thank you. We appreciate you too. (Deb) And the food was delicious. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

(Deb) Hunting is a good business and a wonderful pastime and sport in Kansas and all over the country. So, in highlighting a lot of the great places to stay and do a little hunting, we’re visiting the Crooked Creek Lodge and Swinging Bridge Restaurant Moline, Kansas. With me is Barbara Durbin who is the owner and operator of this establishment. So, Barbara when you opened this place what in ’07, ’08 when was it? (Barbara) ’07. (Deb) How did you get the word out to hunters then that you were here? (Barbara) They actually, they just came. (Deb) Uh, huh. (Barbara) We were still working on this place and we ran 40 hunters through here. (Deb) Wow. (Barbara) Because it was in the fall. And we still had… it was an old nursing home so we still had hospital beds here, you know. And it was quite awesome. And we have a website, but normally we don’t advertise too much because we have return customers. (Deb) So, a lot of these guys who have been coming out… (Barbara) Since the fall of 2007. (Deb) Wow, and they’re from all over the place? (Barbara) Oh yes, we have them from New York, Pennsylvania, we have guys from Vermont and all over the eastern states. Lots of guys from Georgia, Texas, just about every state. (Deb) Wow. (Barbara) East and south side. (Deb) Now, what do people come here to hunt? (Barbara) White tail deer, we have really nice white tail deer. They have large antlers and they have large bodies and the meat on them, it’s just wonderful. (Deb) Now you and your husband were interested in a hunting lodge cause you were both hunters. (Barbara) Oh yes, we hunted for years. (Deb) So… and you talked about that sort of went along with your ranching activities. (Barbara) Uh huh. When we hunted while we fed our cattle. We hunted for about 24 years before he got so he couldn’t hunt any more. (Deb) Right. So, some of the trophies on the wall, some of these are yours? (Barbara) Yes, yes. Some of them are mine. (Deb) Well there’s…like you said some beautiful specimens here. (Barbara) Oh yes. (Deb) And you were telling me, I should have realized this but I didn’t, the minerals in the ground make the antlers… (Barbara) Help make the antlers. Because of the crops we have soybean, wheat, corn, milo. And that helps the meat to taste not real gamey and it’s very good for you actually. (Deb) Oh great. Well, I love venison; you know I grew up eating it and I really love it. Now, Fish and Game rent a lot of the land around here? (Barbara) Yes. (Deb) Is that right? (Barbara) Yes, for walk in hunting, you can’t take a vehicle on it. You can walk in to it. And it’s open to the public. And then we have outfitters that bring a lot of the guys in also. And some provide housing for them and some of don’t and we have… my clientele usually are the same people that come every year. (Deb) Right. I can’t tell you what a comfortable place it is to stay. Like I said, when the guys come in to hunt and you’ve got them staying here for days at a time… I imagine they don’t want to leave, you probably have to kick them out the door. (Barbara) Yeah, yeah. (Deb) Between that and the great food, they just found a second home here. (Barbara) Yep. (Deb) Well, I just can’t recommend it enough. It’s beautiful and people are wonderful and I just can’t imagine where you can go have a better time. (Barbara) Well, thank you. We try to make it very comfortable for everyone and make them feel like they are at home. (Deb) Thanks Barbara. (Barbara) Thank you. (Deb) You all stay tuned; we’ll be right back.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and with me is Lisa Townsley, who is the Moline City Clerk. And City Clerk might sound like a simple job, but I think they’re like the chief cook and bottle washer. too, aren’t you Lisa? (Lisa) Pretty much. (Deb) Little bit of everything. So, did you grow up in Moline? (Lisa) No, I came here in the early ’80s. (Deb) So, you had to… grew up with kind of learning the culture and history and everything? Well, Moline’s got some great stuff going for it. How long has Moline been here? (Lisa) Since the late 1800’s. (Deb) Uh huh. And what was the purpose for Moline, was it a railroad town? (Lisa) There was a railroad. I’m not sure the year the railroad came in. And there was… the settler’s came and they decided to name the town after a salesman that came here and stayed from Moline, Illinois. (Deb) He must have been some sort of salesman then. (Lisa) He must have been. (Deb) He must have been really good. (Lisa) The railroad has been here or many, many years. (Deb) And then the other big industry was the rock quarry. (Lisa) The rock quarry. (Deb) And what was that? Was that building, construction rock or what? (Lisa) They used the rock to make the roads and everything around and build, I think they used some to build the buildings and they had their own little town out there, that workers lived at. (Deb) Wow. (Lisa) It was pretty big. (Deb) Now how far from town is that now? (Lisa) It’s about a mile. (Deb) Mile outside of town. So, talk about the Swinging Bridge for us. That’s one of Moline’s claims to fame, so when was that put up? (Lisa) 1904. (Deb) And that’s… the bridge that’s there, is that the original bridge? (Lisa) Yes, the wood has been replaced on it. (Deb) Sure. (Lisa) The steel that supports the wood beams, but the stone support structure is original and it’s the longest and oldest suspension bridge in Kansas. Claim to fame there. (Deb) Well, and it’s just… you know cute’s such a silly word, but it is, it’s so cute! I mean you just… and it’s over Elk Creek, is that right? (Lisa) It’s Wildcat Creek. (Deb) Wildcat Creek, I’m sorry, over Wildcat Creek. So that’s just beautiful little falls right there and you’ve got that swinging bridge. So, was that… obviously an important little bridge in its day. (Lisa) Yes, they used to have just a crossing there and you had to cross down across the creek with wagons and we have some pictures at my office of that so the ladies wouldn’t have to cross the river, the creek when it was up, they built that bridge, just to get over it. (Deb) Another great example of how ladies bring civilization, don’t they? If it were all left to the guys, yeah, we’d still just be wading through the creeks, but it takes the women to get a good bridge. (Lisa) Yeah. (Deb) We’ll be right back to hear more with Lisa, so stay tuned.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas, and with me is Lisa Townsley, who is the Town Clerk for Moline. And Lisa, you guys, I’m just amazed by what this little community does, you’ve got about 500 people in this community? (Lisa) About that many. (Deb) And the events that you have and the ability of the community to come together and support things like your park and it’s just amazing to me. So, Crazy Days is your big event every year? (Lisa) Yes. (Deb) You’ve been doing that about 30 years or more? (Lisa) A little over 30 years. (Deb) So tell me what you do at Crazy Days. (Lisa) We have a free bean feed on Friday night. And we do an auction, a baked goods auction and other items. People donate things to sell. It’s the biggest fund raiser that our Moline Chamber has every year and then we put that money back into the community, throughout the year with different projects and things. And then Saturday we start off with a parade and then we have kids games and activities all day long. (Deb) Right. (Lisa) Finish up in the evening with a hog roast and fireworks at dark. We do that every year. (Deb) Now the projects that are supported through those fund raisers, the city park… (Lisa) Yes. (Deb) Is that one of…? (Lisa) Yes. That’s a really nice city park. (Lisa) Yes, we put in over $4,000 worth of playground equipment on the south side last year. And then we just all the time are doing things. We rebuilt our little footbridge that goes across the creek, because the water came up and laid it over and so we rebuilt that. And it’s very handy to cross the sides of the bridge with it… sides of the park with it. (Deb) It is so picturesque, it’s so pretty, but it’s also obviously really well used, you have a lot of events there. (Lisa) Yes, yes. (Deb) So, you were telling me one of the ones you do is Halloween. (Lisa) Yes. (Deb) We’ve got to come back for Halloween, that sounds fun! (Lisa) It’s good. (Deb) It sounds good. (Lisa) We have the cafe here gets the hot dogs for us, they’re all beef. We have everybody come, they go trick or treating in the evening and they come down to the park and we have some bonfires down there and sticks and everybody roasts their hot dogs and we have s’mores and they sit around and chat and gossip and talk. (Deb) What a great time… (Lisa) It’s awesome. (Deb) So the kids are all in their costumes? (Lisa) Yep, even the adults. (Deb) Even the adults. (Lisa) Adults dress up too around here. (Deb) Oh, what fun. Well, you got a… tell me about the plane, how did you get the plane in the park? (Lisa) That plane used to be in Independence at the park over there. And it got vandalized and dilapidated over the years. And we had a lady here, she came and asked the city if they would be interested in the plane, that it had to be redone. We thought, “Oh, OK, that’d be good for our park.” And it took several years to get it finished because it was all in pieces and had to be totally redone. And some guys over at Independence and Coffeyville put that back together for us. And Thompson Brothers down at Coffeyville donated the paint to paint it and it was a sight to see coming down the highway all in one big piece. (Deb) Now, you guys lost your elementary school right? (Lisa) Yes. (Deb) And so that makes it difficult for a community. (Lisa) Yes, they were the biggest employer. (Deb) Sure. (Lisa) And the people just for what they helped with the area businesses. The people that worked there. And it was very devastating to pull that out of Moline. (Deb) Sure. So, how has the community coped with that? (Lisa) Well, we’ve struggled and overcame. The city now has that building and we rent it out for functions, weddings and reunions and the annual Moline alumni they get together on Memorial Day weekend every year there and we just make use of it the best we can. And we just go on. (Deb) I think the solution is you need to clone Barbara and then take over that building and… That could become a luxury hotel, with Barbara in charge. We’ll be right back. Stay tuned for more of Around Kansas.

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

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