An annual Kansas tourism promotion is coming to our portion of the state today, May 6 and tomorrow, May 7. The event is promoting Bourbon, Cherokee and Crawford Counties.
“We’ve had a steady stream of visitors,” Lindsay Madison, Executive Director of Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce said on Thursday. She and her staff are welcoming them and giving info about the event. The Chamber is located at 231 E. Wall.
The Big Kansas Road Trip is designed to encourage people to explore different parts of our state by visiting it, with the hope of bolstering Kansas communities, according to their website.
To learn about agri-tourism sites, events and other things to do, visit:
Those of us who live in Bourbon County are encouraged to explore with tourists on these days as well.
The Big Kansas Road Trip is promoted through the Kansas Sampler Foundation whose mission is to preserve and sustain Kansas culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and networking/supporting local communities, according to its website.
There are some great eating places in Bourbon County, to choose one see the BKRT listing: EAT IN LOCAL CAFES
If you want to explore our county, check out the places that are listed in the Big Kansas Road Trip website:
The two-story wooden structure just outside the fort’s entrance was built around 1864 to help Fort Scott (town and post) defend against anticipated Confederate advances. Fortunately, no attacks occurred.
Built of red brick and limestone in the Modern Eclecticism style, the 1930 Bourbon County courthouse stands with solid authority on the square at 210 S. National. Visitors are welcome to go to the third-floor courtroom (if court is not in session) to view the 1929 D.H. Overmeyer mural Justice Enthroned. A Civil War cannon, war memorials, and a GAR monument guard the front lawn. Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm.
On the west side of this 103 acre state fishing lake you’ll find a good place to cast your line for channel cat and largemouth/spotted bass. Also find several fishing piers, boat ramp and a floating dock. The waterfall usually runs a short period during the spring from early April through the end of June. You’ll find the waterfall on the north end of the lake, about a quarter mile from Ivory Rd. For detailed directions, click on Read More below, which takes you to Keith Stokes (Kansas Explorer #4392, Kansas Travel website.) Photo courtesy Keith Stokes.
In the early 1900s a large brick plant here produced 100,000 bricks every 10 days. The bricks cost two to four cents each, and a daily shipment filled approxi-mately a dozen rail cars. Fort Scott bricks were used in the construction of the Panama Canal and for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (nicknamed the Brickyard when its track was bricked in 1911). More than 10 miles of brick streets remain in Fort Scott. They are included in the Downtown Fort Scott National Register for Historic Places designation. https://tinyurl.com/FortScottBrickStreets
Civil War Statue
Charles and Spruce (City Park). Posed in the middle of the park is one of only four white-bronze (cast zinc) Civil War statues in the state. Dedicated in 1907, this sentinel style soldier is more commonly seen in northern states.
First Horseshoe Tournament
A small blue sign on the east side of town tells you that Bronson was home to the first horseshoe pitching tournament in the world! Although not the same horseshoe pits as those in the 1909 tournament, the pits in City Park at Charles and Spruce welcome you to bring your own horseshoes and play.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three members made up the total congregation of this church when it was formed in 1859. When the 1888 church was razed, many of the bricks and materials were reused to build the present 1924 church. The auditorium, which seats 1,000, held the funeral for famed photographer and native son Gordon Parks in 2006. Church will be open 9am-4pm daily. Sunday services at 10:30am.
Oak to Third and Scott to National. Despite fires, including the most recent in 2005, and the federal urban renewal project in the 1960s that demolished 85 historic buildings, the downtown still boasts 58 contributing buildings to the historic district designation. https://tinyurl.com/FortScottHistDist
The driving tour brochure describes 46 sites and provides an excellent overview of the town, particularly of the architectural history of downtown buildings. Brochures are available at the Visitor Information Center, 231 E. Wall or visit their website and download the brochure.
The trolley guided and self-guided tours point out gravestones for U.S. Colored troops, Native American soldiers, buffalo soldiers, Confederates from the 1864 Mine Creek battle, and memorials to those who never came home from various wars. A large glacial stone marks the grave of illustrious poet Eugene Ware (1841-1911) who also was an editor, Civil War soldier, author, and founder of the first Fort Scott public library. In 1862 President Lincoln designated these grounds a national cemetery. A historic rostrum and an 1870 brick home also are within the cemetery.
Named for General Winfield Scott, the fort originally was established in 1842. Soldiers garrisoned here until 1853 to maintain peace between indigenous and relocated Indian tribes. In 1855 the government auctioned the fort structures to newly arriving settlers, and the area became the nucleus of the town of Fort Scott. During the Civil War, soldiers returned to Fort Scott and it became the supply and logistical center for the Union Army of the West. Today this restored post, administered by the National Park Service, showcases 20 historic structures with excellent exhibits inside the buildings and on the grounds. Open daily, ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset. This attraction was voted as one of the top eight in the 8 Wonders of Kansas History category, sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Visitor Center open daily, 8am-5pm (summer); 8:30am-4:30pm (winter hours).
Built in the Beaux Arts style, the 1904 two-story red-brick Carnegie library (NRHP) still operates as the Fort Scott library. Thu-Fri 9:30am-5:30pm; Sat 9:30am-1:30pm.
From Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, through Fort Scott, and north to Fort Leavenworth, this byway follows the old military road established between 1838 and 1845 to connect these forts. Supporters of both the free-state and proslavery causes also used this road during our state’s territorial period. Interpretative signage located in front of the fort along Old Fort Boulevard.
Three distinct eras and architectural designs are apparent in the former Fulton School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The red-brick two-story school building was built in 1917, the stone gymnasium was a 1936 WPA project, and the brick one-story cafeteria was added in 1964. Closed as a school in 1978, the building is now a community center. Photo courtesy KSHS.org.
Fulton is located about 20 minutes north of Fort Scott along Old U.S. 69. Since 1927 traffic has crossed the Little Osage River on the sturdy Marsh rainbow single-arch bridge. In Fulton, from E. Spruce, go ½ mile north on 215th and drive over the bridge.
Gordon Parks Gravestone
From 23rd, 1½ miles south on U.S. 69, then ½ mile west on Indian. Look for a black vertical stone in the cemetery’s north end (section 7) by the road. On either side of the stone is a Parks’ poem, “Homecoming” and “A Sign by the Road.” His flat gray gravestone is behind this marker.
Gordon Parks, born in Fort Scott in 1912, was a pioneer for blacks in the fields of photography, filmmaking, and writing. His photos depicting poverty and racism, among other subjects, were potent pictures in Life magazine for 20 years. Impressive exhibits and artifacts are on display to help you know Parks and the topics he cared about. See his writing desk, a film camera and tripod, and some of his iconic photographs including those of the Tuskegee Airmen, Muhammad Ali, and American Gothic. The museum will be open extra hours for BKRT visitors. Gordon Parks was voted as one of the top eight in the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art category, sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Thu-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 10am-4pm.
In 1910 W.C. Gunn donated the land for Gunn Park and some 20 years later the WPA added the main lake and stone shelter houses and walls. Newer additions include an 18-hole disc golf course, numerous biking and hiking trails, a dog park, and a second lake stocked with trout.
For years Gunn Park had its own caretaker who lived on site with his family. In 1927 caretaker E.V. Kelley built two doll houses for his young daughters Nadine and Jenny. Quite unique, they are more like miniature houses, built outdoors and made of stone. In 2016 the local Kiwanis Club restored and rebuilt the wee buildings, and as you enter Gunn Park you’ll see them to the south. The abandoned caretaker’s home is nearby.
Some say it’s like being in the Ozarks! Opened in 2003, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park provides trails for mountain bikers, hikers, utility vehicles, and four-wheel-drive vehicles (5 mph speed limit). As you might expect, you’ll come across plenty of rocks! What you might not expect is the 200-foot elevation change in these 400 acres. Kanrocks, as the park is known, is a wonderful getaway to enjoy the outdoors in a beautiful rocky terrain. Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8am-5pm. Admission charge.
Stop by and see the impressive, state-of-the-art LaRoche Baseball Complex. The Dave Regan Stadium inside the LaRoche Baseball Complex features 500 stadium seats, 500 bleacher seats, and room for 2500 on the grassy berms. The complex was funded by major league baseball star, Adam LaRoche, who graduated from high school in Fort Scott. “In the majors, LaRoche played for the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburg Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Nationals in 2011. He had his best season in 2012, winning a Gold Glove and hitting 33 home runs with 100 RBIs in leading Washington to its first National League East Division title.”
This state-of-the-art exhibition space recognizes unsung heroes who stood up for others, often at great risk to themselves. Their compelling stories are told through inter- active kiosks and displays. Two of these brave heroes are Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who rescued more than 2,500 Jewish children during WWII; and Ken Reinhardt, who befriended the first black students to attend his high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Additional heroes are recognized every year. The center is named for international philanthropist and education supporter Lowell Milken. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-4pm.
Named the National Avenue Bridge and painted bright rust orange, the 1933 Marsh rainbow single-arch bridge stands out as it spans the Marmaton River. From 1st, ½ mile north on National. Learn more about Marsh Arch bridges in Kansas by clicking on Read More below.
Pine Lawn Cemetery was established circa 1869 by the Jewish burial society as the interment grounds for the Jewish community that thrived in Fort Scott in the 1880s and 1890s. From E. Wall, 3 miles south on U.S. 69/K-7, ½ mile west on Ironwood, then ¼ mile south on 215th. Photo courtesy Diana Staresinic-Deane, read Diana’s blog: https://tinyurl.com/53r2rsa3
“Border Gateways”, a 1937 oil on canvas by Oscar E. Berninghaus, depicts pioneers in covered wagons coming into the newly established Kansas Territory in 1854. This New Deal (Depression era) Section artwork can be viewed by entering the Post Office lobby and take the elevator to 2nd floor. Section Art was a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art contest. Click on Read More to learn more!
Rock Creek Lake
The 50 acre Rock Creek Lake is an integral part of the city and rural water reserve system. Located on the Marmaton River, and surrounded by deep woods, Rock Creek serves as a habitat for wildlife as well as a quiet haven for fishermen, canoeists and campers. Discover the Rock Creek Falls during rain season! Drive west on 18th Street. The street name will change to Kansas Road and after an unpaved stretch, will turn south becoming 195th Street, which runs along the east side of Rock Creek Lake. Pull into the park at the north end of Rock Creek Lake and follow the narrow gravel road across the dam to the turn around next to the falls.
The fall of 1968 in Fort Scott, Kansas, marked a historical time when the first major Hollywood motion picture was directed by a black film director, Kansas’ native son, Gordon Parks. The Learning Tree, released in 1969, is based on a semi-autobiographical novel that Gordon Parks wrote in 1963. Several of the scenes were filmed on location in and around Fort Scott and Mound City. Hundreds of people from both Fort Scott and Mound City area were a part of the film as extras, with a few having speaking roles in the film. The Learning Tree Trail is a series of signs located at the different scene locations where the filming of The Learning Tree took place. The signs will also include QR codes along with a virtual tour of the identified scene locations of the film. Click on the Read More link for more information.
The trolley driver doubles as guide offering an informative 50-minute tour around town in an old-fashioned trolley. You’ll learn about the national cemetery, “painted ladies,” the horse race track, Mark Twain’s secretary’s studio, Pill Hill, and all sorts of intriguing Fort Scott history. It’s a marvelous starting point for your Fort Scott explorations. $6 for adults; $4 for kids (12 & Under); Free for kids under 3. Find the trolley at the Fort Scott Visitor Information Center. Thu-Fri 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm; Sat 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm; Sun 1pm, 2pm.
Vinedo Del Alamo is the first winery in the world to bottle Arandell grapes, from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, without the use of other blends and varieties. We have been actively growing and harvesting grapes since 2011. Take a relaxing self guided tour of the vineyard which will be in full bloom. The winery is an actual working farm that includes camping, wine tastings and much more! A free tasting with the purchase of one bottle of wine.