Pawnee Rock State Historical site, Messiah Festival of the Arts

Today Around Kansas shares the history of the Pawnee Rock State Historical site, a landmark along the Santa Fe Trail; and next we learn about the upcoming 135th “Messiah Festival of the Arts” in Lindsborg. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson titled “Livestock Trailers” and we’ll end with a look at the ever changing, ever temperamental weather in Kansas.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank) Well, good Wednesday morning. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. And today of course, we’re in the Dillon House. That’s where we do these each week and you can see a nice long shot. We’re in this big room today and we’re looking at faces in the window up here. Not real faces, but these are authors that the Dillons happened to like. (Deb) Is that Edgar Allen Poe up there? Is that who that is? (Frank) I think that is. Yes, it is. Ooooh. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) We have Poe looking down on us this morning. So, anyway I think this must have been the study because there are bookcases and fireplaces and everything else. Dillon House, by the way, is right across from the State Capitol in Topeka and it is available for all kinds of events and all that. And when you’re in Topeka come in and take a tour; it’s a beautiful place. (Deb) And if you’re lobbying the Legislators this is the perfect place to woo them over to your way of thinking, right Frank? (Frank) Yes, yes it is. (Deb) I would feel very special if somebody had a party for me right here. (Frank) So, anyway, books, books, books. We’re in a library so let’s talk about books. You have a person here… (Deb) I have of course, a lot of friends who are authors and a lot of you probably know my friend, Ron Smith, a lawyer out in Larned. So, he’s a Larned lawyer. Maybe a learned, Larned lawyer. (Frank) OK. I thought you said logger and I thought a logger?? (Deb) No, no loggers out there. But Ron has written a book, it’s a novel of the Civil War called “The Wastage.” And he actually sent me a review copy before it was published. And he is a wonderful writer and it’s wonderful for me as a historian to see characters you know brought to life. And the conversations and just to see these people have the breathe of life in them. And Ron has done that with this book and it’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, and all those places. Be sure and check that out. And if Ron is speaking in your neck of the woods, maybe we can share that on Facebook or whatever, so you’ll be sure to catch him. (Frank) Very good. (Deb) He wrote a history of Thomas Ewing and Thomas Ewing, he was a Leavenworth lawyer, Thomas Ewing was the foster brother, brother-in-law of William Tecumseh Sherman. And they had a law practice together in Leavenworth and they had a…they were speculating land, as everybody was in Bleeding Kansas. Everybody was speculating land, so that’s a fantastic history. And covers some really interesting Kansas connections. So, yea, it’s another book I highly recommend. (Frank) So your latest book is… (Deb) I’m still working on Charles Curtis. Still working on that. That’s going to be a biggie. So, that’s going to take awhile. I’m trying to get a little short thing out, but the big one on Charles Curtis, I want to do a real biography, a really detailed biography. And that takes real work Frank. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) There’s a catch to everything. It takes real work. (Frank) I wouldn’t know. I write 30 and 60 second commercials so a whole book is a real challenge for me. (Deb) Well, I’m telling you, the real challenge is distilling something into 30 seconds or a minute or 15 seconds. That is meaningful. That’s very hard. And you know, most writers you gotta write a few words. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Stay with us, we’ve got a great show.

(Frank) And we’re back. So, anyway, we did a story here some weeks ago on a place called Teter Rock, which is really about the only thing left of a mining town down in southeast Kansas that was called Teter. And so the Teter Rock is still there. So, anyway you have a story about another rock in Kansas? (Deb) We’ve got rocks. (Frank) We have a lot of rocks. (Deb) We’ve got rocks, we do. We’ve got some really cool rocks too. And Pawnee Rock, one of those landmarks in the state and along the Santa Fe Trail, so it’s a historic site. It’s beautiful. There’s so many places Frank as you and I well know that are beautiful. And the misnomer that Kansas is flat, I don’t know where that came from because you will have these just like table top landscapes. And then the change is dramatic. You’ll get a bluff or you’ll get the breaks, or you’ll get the Flint Hills where you get that just roll of the land. And as you’re traveling around the state, just get off the main road. Get off the main road, for just a mile or two and I guarantee you are going to be surprised. (Frank) Yea, if you’re a motorcycle rider, do it sometime. Do the four corners of Kansas and you will be totally amazed at the change in geography, topography, the whole thing. It’s fantastic. I did it in 72 hours once, so slow down and take your time. (Deb) Seriously? (Frank) Yes, yes. That was a whole challenge that a bunch of us did and anyway, we’ll talk about that sometime. (Deb) Do it on horseback. But not in 72 hours. Let’s take a look at Pawnee Rock. It’s a landmark along the Santa Fe Trail. In fact, it was a landmark for the Plains tribes long before there even was a Santa Fe Trail. Comanche, Kiowa, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Pawnee tribes held their councils of war and peace. Many Indian battles were fought nearby in the days before the white men came to Kansas. Many of the Plains tribes reportedly used it as an observation point from which they could observe buffalo herds and wagon trains. For pioneers, it marked the half waypoint between Missouri and Santa Fe. In 1848, James Birch, a soldier on his way to the Mexican War, wrote: “Pawnee Rock was covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full that I could find no place for mine.” Many stories have been told to explain how Pawnee Rock got its name. One source for the name comes from the belief that was sacred ground for the Pawnee Indians who held tribal councils on its flat top. Another from a great battle in which a small band of Pawnees were destroyed by a force of Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arapahos. Both come from Pawnee lore. Among the plainsmen it is said that the Rock got its name in 1826. Kit Carson was on his first trip west and only seventeen. He was working his passage on a wagon train which passed near the Rock. While on guard duty, he shot his own mule, thinking it was an attacking Pawnee. His associates commemorated his experience with the name, Pawnee Rock. Much of Pawnee Rock was destroyed in the 1870s by the railroad and by settlers for building stone. The remnant was acquired in 1908 by the Woman’s Kansas Day Club. In 1909, was given to the State of Kansas as an historic site. In 1912, a stone monument was dedicated amidst a crowd of 8,000 onlookers. Pawnee Rock was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and today operates as Pawnee Rock State Historic Site.

(Deb) Welcome back folks. And Frank is going to take us to Lindsborg, one of our favorite places in Kansas. If you have never been to Lindsborg, and I can’t imagine who hasn’t, but that whole town is an experience. The food, the museums, the shops, the entire town is just an experience. (Frank) It is. It’s a little Sweden is what it is. There’s a lot of food, something always going on there. And a lot of arts and music and everything else. So, it’s an incredible place. (Deb) It’s an incredible place. And it’s so pretty and I know Heather and I got to go out, I don’t know how time flies, could of been last month, could of been ten years ago, but we stayed at the hotel there with our kids and it was a wonderful experience. It was truly like being in Europe. If you get the chance, do take the opportunity to spend the night in the hotel. (Frank) Oh ya. (Deb) Because that, that just waking up there is like a European breakfast and just the whole feel of it, is so nice. So nice. (Frank) Yea and there’s a great opportunity coming up which I am going to talk about and that is the 135th performance of Handel’s Messiah. But the whole thing is, well there’s a whole story about it. So, I’m not going to give it away now. But the thing is, if you can this year, there’s still time, make plans to go and see the music and the art that is presented around this Easter season in Lindsborg, Kansas. (Deb) And do take time. If you can plan more than just showing up like I said, for the performance, take the time to experience everything the town has to offer. And the hotel may be booked up by now, but stay in the area, spend some real time there. Cause not far away you’ve got Coronado Heights. So you could go visit Coronado Heights while you’re there and take a hike to work off some of the rich food that you’re going to have in Lindsborg. So, it’s just the total experience. The whole thing is a total experience. (Frank) So, let’s hear about Easter week in Lindsborg. The theme of the 135th Messiah Festival of the Arts is “Imagine” and will feature a wide variety of art, music and theatrical events during the 10-day event beginning March 18 and continuing through Easter Sunday, March 27. The Festival will kick off on Palm Sunday weekend with the opening of the Juried Student Art Exhibit in the Mingenback Gallery and production of Lucas Hnath’s play “The Christians” in the Burnett Center, both on the Bethany campus. “The Christians” was described by the New York Times as “a white-knuckled drama about…a theological battle”, “…a deeply affecting new play.” “The Christians” will be performed Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. On Palm Sunday, the Bethany Oratorio Society will present “A Musical Tribute to Dr. Walter J. Pelz.” Dr. Pelz is a renowned Lindsborg musician and has been honored for his contributions as a composer and church organist. He was a Bethany music professor for 30 years beginning his career at the College in 1969. He has composed several hundred works that are included in hymnals and featured on many recordings. He was most recently honored by the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians at its national convention in 2015. The Bethany Oratorio Society will perform its historic and rich performances of J.S. Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” on Good Friday, March 25 and G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday, March 27. The Bethany Oratorio Society has been performing Handel’s “Messiah” continuously since 1882 and Bach’s “Passion” since 1929. During Holy Week each year in Lindsborg, the more than 300 member community chorus and orchestra are joined by professional operatic guest soloists for the performances. Guest soloists this year include: Anders Jakéus, bass; Alison Collins, soprano; Clea Huston, mezzo; Randolph Lacy, tenor; Leslie John Flanagan, bass; and Brian Stranghoner, tenor. Full biographies of each soloist can be found on the Messiah website at Tickets are $22 or $25 for each concert and are now on sale. They can be purchased online at or by calling the Messiah Festival office. Additional events in the Messiah Festival schedule include the Fourth Annual Art Installation Displays in downtown Lindsborg, the Midwest Art Exhibit at the Birger Sandzén Gallery, Symphonic Band Concert, and Student Honors Recital. A full list of activities and performances can be found online. Hallelujah!

(Ron) One of the key pieces of equipment which a cowboy uses in modern times is the livestock trailer. This poem is a tribute to the livestock trailer. I wrote this poem on the back of a sale barn receipt while I was sitting in line at the sale barn getting ready to unload cattle. It’s called Hitch Me Up! There’re red ones and blue ones, silver and gray, some are splattered with manure, some are leaking hay. Some are dark or muddy, some are clean and white. There’s Titans and TravAlongs, Sooner and Featherlites. There’s Trailman and Roughneck, CM and Diamond C. And some of them look downright homemade to me. Most have gooseneck attachments, but some are bumper-pull. Some have a big dent from carrying a bull. Some are riding low from carrying heavy loads. Some look like they’ve banged down too many gravel roads. Some need a paint job, some are coated with dust. Some look like antiques but are nothing but rust. They’re used to haul cattle or horses or hay and they’re going to and from pastures at different times of the year. During County Fair they’re hauling in the show steer. There might even be a time in your child’s search for knowledge that the trailer is cleaned up to haul your kid’s stuff to college. So we salute the livestock trailer, in fact we might say, its a vital support for the cowboy, it’s behind him all the way. Happy trails.

(Frank) And we’re back again. You know we talked about the topography and geography in Kansas being quite diverse and all that. But you wanted to say something about weather. (Deb) You know it’s really funny, not funny, but unusual and strange, this Spring has been so volatile all over the United States. Back home where I grew up in Ararat, Virginia, where we had never even heard of tornados, that was as foreign as a tidal wave, there were tornados this Spring already. And Kansas averages 50 tornados a year folks. But back where I grew up it’s a really rare thing. So, it’s just one of those phenomenon of our weather in Kansas, which is arguably the most spectacular in the country. Wouldn’t you agree Frank? (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Can anybody, can anybody match the variety of weather we have in Kansas? (Frank) Well, that’s what they say. You know you see the four seasons and the thing is, that’s a day in Kansas. (Deb) That’s a day. That’s a day. Exactly. And sometimes it’s lunch break. It’s just…it can be absolutely crazy. But it also makes life really interesting doesn’t it? (Frank) Yes, it does. (Deb) Especially if you’re living with it. (Frank) Just like today, as we’re filming this, the clouds keep running past the window here, which keeps changing the light, so we keep looking rather more weird than usual, that’s probably because the clouds keep coming, the sun going. (Deb) Right. It’s not our meds kicking in and out. That’s not it. It’s just the cloud cover and driving poor Michael crazy. If you don’t like the weather in Kansas, just wait five minutes. It will change. There are two seasons in Kansas: winter and road construction. Those of us who have seen temperatures drop 40 or 50 degrees in a couple of hours or seen blizzards shut down I-70 know that the old jokes aren’t jokes at all, but facts! Experts say the climate of Kansas can be characterized in terms of three types: humid continental, semi-arid steppe, and humid subtropical. The eastern two-thirds of the state, especially the northeastern portion, has a humid continental climate, with cool to cold winters and hot, often humid summers. The western third of the state, from roughly Route 281 westward, has a semiarid steppe climate. Summers are very hot, and less humid. Winters are highly changeable. The western region receives an average of about 16 inches of precipitation per year. Chinook winds in the winter can warm western Kansas all the way to 80 degrees. The far south central and southeastern reaches of the state have a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, milder winters and more precipitation than elsewhere in the state. However, some features of all three climates can be found in most of the state, droughts, floods, heat, cold, thunderstorms, and blizzards. Precipitation ranges from about 47 inches a year in the southeast to about 16 inches in the southwest. Snowfall varies from around 5 inches in the south, to 35 inches in the far northwest. There are more than 200 days without frost in the south but only 130 in the northwest. Thus, Kansas is the ninth or tenth sunniest state in the country. Western Kansas is as sunny as California. Kansas is prone to severe weather, especially in the spring and early summer. Due to its location at a climatic boundary the state is vulnerable to strong and severe thunderstorms. Official reports indicate the all-time highest temperature recorded in Kansas was121 in July, 1936, near Alton. The all time low was -40 in February 1905, near Lebanon. Kansas’s record high of 121 °F, 49.4 °C, ties with North Dakota for the fifth-highest record high in the United States. The good news is, weather can be experienced in any corner of the state and there is no admission charged. In fact, we should put up signs at the state boundaries proclaiming, Kansas: Open Air Weather Museum!

(Frank) Well we have to get out of here again this week. So, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

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