West to East

Well that does sound like we are travelling a lot further across the country but no, just a few states.

Wyoming, on through Nebraska, dropping down into Kansas and further down into Oklahoma.

As we came into Kansas yesterday we found the historical marker indicating the geographical centre of the country.

 

We stopped in Belleville, KS for the night and walked from the motel to the BelVilla family dining. A little home style restaurant, licensed, nothing flash about the decor but great food and awesome service. I asked the girl if I could keep the menu, a newspaper style print with a beautiful old courthouse and water tower on the front.

 

If you know me then of course I wanted to find this building. Jack and I headed into the downtown district after breakfast. Belleville was established in 1869, some old buildings came into view but alas no old courthouse just the white Art Deco version in the town square. We drove in and around a few streets, asked two old guys (one at a workshop and one driving the USPS truck) and both have only been in the area for a couple of years and couldn't help.

As Jack filled the car with gas, I did a search on the phone and when he returned all I could work out was that it had been burned down and replaced with the current one and also that Belleville was known for the 'world's fastest half mile high bank dirt track!'

A race track for midgets and sprint cars. As we got back on the road there on the left was the Highbanks Hall of Fame and Museum so we stopped in for a quick look.

 

The gentleman was just opening up the doors as we were looking at the display out front. We went in for a short visit.

 

This picture shows a photo of the track at the top and below it a painting of the track. The Belleville High Banks dirt track is 23 ft high on the bank and 80ft wide, you can't walk up it but can certainly run at 140mph in these little cars!

 

There are some great displays, cars and memorabilia for the car enthusiast to stop and have a look. Donation for entry.

Back on the road and we are heading for Marysville and the Pony Express station. This is, as a sign said in a paddock, Pony Express country. From Washington this section of the highway is known as the Pony Express Highway.

 

A quick stop in Hanover, the visitor centre is closed but we saw the Pony Express Station on the Hollenberg Ranch just east of town. It is said to be the only one still on its original site. (Seems contradictory now when you get to the next stop! lol)

 

Next stop Marysville. The Marysville Pony Express Station is the only original station still on its original site. Home Station No.1 has been many other businesses over the course of history but has been lovingly restored and stripped of modern fabrications back to its original limestone walls.

 

The 18″ thick limestone walls, original openings for light and ventilation with a replacement roof – 12 years after the pony express ran through – the original roof had been burnt in a fire.

This station allowed riders to stay in bunks within the barn, often up to 10 days until the next mail came in, or they could stay at the nearby Barrett Hotel.

 

During the 19 months the Pony Express ran for, over 35,000 pieces of mail were delivered via 200 relay stations. The number of rides/mileage made is enough to circumnavigate the world 3 times over.

 

Mary set us up for a short video when we entered and Shirley gave us the rest of the tour through many wonderous antiques, machinery, vehicles, reproduction stagecoach, popcorn machine, dioramas and much more!

 

What a sensational stop, she suggested the Wagon Wheel for lunch near the statue and glass panels. We headed there next and had a great lunch with a quick visit to the statue in the 99F heat. The glass picture panels are great, the picture changes with your movement.

 

We continued our journey south through the great Kansas plains and farming land. Corn……..corn………..and more corn. I'm sure there is more to the crops than that, just seems like that is all you see. 🙂

We made it! We are back in Oklahoma.

Kat xo

 

 

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Nebraska – Wyoming

Today we moved on and visited Gothenburg again briefly. Enough time for Jack to get another Pony Express badge, seeing as he lost it somewhere on the range a month or so ago and to send a postcard.

 

Next we continued on the Lincoln Highway to North Platte. We had also previously been here to Buffalo Bill Cody's house and ranch but this time we stopped in at the Golden Spike Tower.

With views overlooking the world's largest classification rail yard – Bailey Yard (have you been here before Paddlewheel???)

 

Here you can go up into the observation deck and watch Union Pacific Railroad workers 'sort and connect over 10,000 cars a day on two classification hump yards, with nearly 120 bowl rows and 315 tracks.'

 

It is 8 miles long, 301 sets of rails covering 2,850 acres.

North Platte was originally “Hell On Wheels Town” in 1866.

Inside the gift shop are historical displays and a short movie. Information boards line the walls of the internal observation deck and in the foyer to the outside observation deck the boards talk of the canteen.

 

This was a great stop and you could actually see the cars being pushed up the humps to be transferred down the other side into the bowl and let run down a track ready to be attached for their final destination.

 

It's lunch time and that means getting our skates on! Next stop Ole's for lunch and view some 200 mounted trophies displayed in this Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge.

 

The brochure says 'Rosser O. Herstedt (“Ole” to anyone that knew him) was one of a kind.' Born and bred in Paxton he seized on a unique business opportunity in 1933. (This part makes me grin) 'On August 8, 1933, prohibition in Nebraska came to an end. At 12.01am on August 9, Ole opened his tavern on Paxton's main street.' Lol!

He was a hunter and soon the lounge became a showcase for his hunting trips and safaris. It is still owned today by another Paxton native, Tim Holzfaster.

 

An Ole's club sandwich and a side of fries did both of us!!

On to our last stop before reaching Cheyenne, WY, we made a quick stop in Sidney, NE at the Pony Express National Monument which of course is right next to Cabela's….which of course we just had to go into!

 

Hope you've had a great day or having a great day!

Kat xo

 

St Joseph, Missouri

Heading into Missouri now and for St Joseph where we will be exploring places like The Pony Express Museum, Patee House and Jesse James House.

Skirting the city limits of Kansas City, some old buildings amongst the new skyline, an interesting bridge and a casino taking on the appearance of an old steamboat.

Lots of trees in this part, thick groves of them.

St Joseph is just over an hour away from where we were staying in Overland Park, Kansas – so for those who live close by in the north east quarter of Kansas you could do this as a day trip or a weekend. The St Joseph website even has a couple of guided tours listed and gives you an estimate of time in order for you to plan a short trip.

We got into the older part of St Joseph and found our way to the Visitor Centre/Library in the newer business district. Not open Sundays but self serve on any of the brochure’s and maps required.

Heading back to old town we stopped at the Pony Express Monument. Oh, I’m sorry, you mean you don’t know what the Pony Express was? Well here’s a little bit of info to get you up to speed.

The Pony Express was an idea for getting mail, overland from St Joseph, MIssouri to Sacremento, California. Mail could possibly take weeks to go by sea and now it could go by horse rider and be there in 10 days! Wow, what a breakthrough. Horses were positioned along the route, so the rider could change horses and would have another rider to hand off to if need be.

The first ride of the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860 at 7.15pm. One lonely rider with monchila (mo-chee-la) loaded with mail heading out across, plains, desert and high country to get the mail through. The first Pony Express rider to set out on that day is said to be “Johnny Fry”.

Enjoy a couple of pics here, rest on Facebook and check out the website link below for more about the Museum.

 

Then it was on to Patee House Museum, used to be a hotel 3 times, a girls college twice and a shirt factory for 80 years prior to being turned into a museum. It is huge, 4 floors of heritage, well 3 they aren’t restoring the top floor and you can see in the stair wells winding up to the other floors – the original staircases, banisters, the timber batons and horse hair plaster detail.

There is so much to see in here it is mind blowing, two and a half hours easily spent there.

Travelling and arriving……

….and going out in style.

Or maybe you just want to take a train?

Or pretend you are still in your childhood riding the unique “Wild Things” carousel. (I’m betting put a kid on the mako shark and they will have nightmares!! I didn’t take a pic of it!)

Patee House was opened by John Patee as a luxurious hotel in 1858 to serve travellers. It is most famously recognised for being the Pony Express Headquarters where Russell, Majors and Waddell had their office starting April 3, 1860. It was also the US Provost marshal’s office and the Union recruiting office during the Civil War era, holding grand balls and court in the ballroom as well.

 

The Jesse James Home is situated on the neighbouring grounds of Patee House, the home Jesse bought for his wife and children and where he was shot whilst straightening the hanging needlework picture.

The bullet hole in the wall has been covered with glass but before this could be done there were many that would enter the house and chip out toothpick sized pieces of timber both from the wall and from the blood stained floor.

There are some original pieces of furniture from the house still there. An exhibit of the exhumation that took place in 1995 holds pieces from Jesse’s casket – handles, scripted plate/plaque, the broken viewing glass, his tie pin etc.

Well all done and dusted, a full day of museum history, pretty much done what we came to see, so cancelled motel and headed back for Oklahoma.

Good day. Over and out.

Kat xo

http://www.stjomo.com/discover-st-jo/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Visitor-Info&gclid=CjkKEQjwiPWcBRCTj_-Vz8fE3cMBEiQAZIMSUmDIL9tW8eWHTKp0iZhXTnbqWBQ-TLWTrXoPzo5wZOXw_wcB

http://www.stjomo.com/see-do/museums/pony-express-national-museum/

http://www.stjomo.com/see-do/museums/patee-house-museum/

http://www.stjomo.com/see-do/museums/jesse-james-home-museum/