I left the motel at 7 a.m., and yes, before I left Liberal, I got my car washed again. It's an obsession. I headed east out of Liberal on Hwy. 54, looking for the Samson Bridge, 13 miles from town. Right on schedule, it loomed! Part of the 1,268-foot long RR bridge built in 1939, was shrouded in fog, making the behemoth an even better photo op. The Samson Bridge was considered an engineering marvel in its day. In 2004, I was still impressed.
I stopped for gas in Meade, snapped a few pictures in town (some nice old signage), then realized that the town's claim to fame was a Dalton brothers' hideout.
Since I'd visited the Dalton Gang Museum in Coffeeville during a previous trip, I decided to do a drive-by of the hideout. I didn't stop because it was too early for the small park to be open, but I took a picture of the house that once belonged to a Dalton sister, Eve, in the 1890s, and which sits over a 95 ft. long tunnel in which the Dalton's spent some time hiding out during those years.
In Mineola, I bought a blueberry pie from an elderly lady sitting at a card table at a miniscule (two tables!) farmer's market. At the other table was a woman selling salsa. (The pie, which I shared with a friend when I got home, was delicious. However, it was cherry, not blueberry! Slight labeling snafu, no doubt.)
In Bucklin, I happened across a very well-rendered mural of the town as it looked back in horse-and-buggy days. It was interesting, because it was possible to view both the mural and the town, as it looks today from the same perspective, all at once.
Another much-anticipated highlight of my trip was to be found at my next stop, Mullinville. I had read a great deal about M.T. Liggett's famous "fence art" there, and I sure wasn't disappointed! Mr. Liggett's folk art metal sculptures adorn most of the fence around his property, and have caused him to be considered one of the premiere primitive artists in America. He's gained fame in art circles, as well as infamy in political circles. After viewing most of his work, I'm inclined to say that politically he's an equal-opportunity offender. His sculptures, both stable and kinetic, are sometimes offensive, sometimes obscene, and almost always impertinent. I loved them! Here are a few of the hundreds. Be sure to study them closely.
I was thrilled and amazed when a pickup truck pulled up next to my car, and who should emerge but Mr. Liggett himself! I really never expected to meet the man, whom I had read was grouchy and definitely not a "people person". I beg to disagree. He greeted me with a big smile, we exchanged a few words, and he agreed to pose for this picture.
The last stop on my tour of Kansas kitch before hitting the long road home was in Greensburg, where my mission was to view the World's Biggest Hand-Dug Well and the World's Biggest Pallasite Meteor. Conveniently, both are in the same place.
The well was dug by 12-15 local men between 1887 and 1888 at a cost of $45,000. It was built to accommodate the arrival of the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads. It is 109 ft. deep and 32 ft. in diameter. Today, it's enclosed in a heavy iron "cage", and although photographing it is nearly impossible, hanging over the cage and peering down into its depths is scary and impressive.
It is indeed a very deep well. There are stairs leading to the bottom, but I didn't even consider taking them. Inside the gift shop (a nice gift shop, by the way) sits the world's largest pallasite meteor, which was discovered on a nearby farm in 1948. "Pallasite" means it is made of iron and stone, and it weighs over 1000 pounds. That's one BIG meteor, all right!
Before exiting Greensburg, I stopped at Duckwall's, a good old-fashioned five-and-dime of the sort you don't see very often any more. Here's a picture.
I was ready to head for home, with a heart full of love for Kansas and a head full of indecision about which state I would visit on my next "kitch" tour. I'm leaning toward Arkansas or Nebraska, but we shall see. Meanwhile, I stopped in Bartlesville, OK on the way home to look at and photograph a replica of the Nellie Johnstone #2, the area's first oil well, as well as artist Robert Indiana's big "66" in front of Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower there.
I drove 415 miles today, making a grand total of 1550 miles in 4 days. Nice round numberů.
You may contact me at: LaurelRK66@aol.com or visit my website at www.PostcardsFromTheRoad.net.