Western Trips

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drive the 13 Mile Scenic Byway in Southern Kansas

Kansas has a good number of byways. Out of the eleven byways, eight are scenic, two of these have the distinction of being National Scenic Byways and three are historic byways. Kansas has the distinction of being the first state to completely pave their segment of old Route 66. Hosting only thirteen miles of this historic highway gave the state a bit of an advantage to achieve that goal. 

kansas route 66 sign
The 13 Miles in the Southeastern Corner of Kansas

When you drive the route which runs through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs in Cherokee County Kansas you're driving a Kansas Scenic Byway which runs along a thirteen mile stretch of US Hwy 66, better known perhaps as the famous and historic Route 66. The Kansas segment of this highway runs along the Ozark Plateau in the southeastern corner of the state and passes through the towns of Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs. .

Although Kansas has the shortest stretch of the popular old route between Chicago, Illinois and Santa Monica, California, the 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas are among the best preserved.
The three towns mentioned above all offer interesting trip stops  All three towns give you a glimpse of the history of Kansas.

Galena, KS

galena kansas museum route 66
Galena Museum inside old train station
The old buildings found in Galena, KS are among the top Route 66 Kansas attractions. Some of these structures have been restored or are in a stage of restoration. Several of the older Galena buildings found along Kansas Route 66 helped to inspire the "Radiator Springs" town in the Disney Pixar film, Cars.

 Among these you'll want to make note of is the 1920s KanOtex Station. Today, the old service station is named "Cars on the Route and sells sandwiches, snacks, antiques, Route 66 and Car's items, including several made by local craftspeople and artists.

Before you get to Galena proper, you'll drive past an old smelting plant that was in operation between 1912 and the late 1970s.When in Galena also make it a point to drop by the Galena Mining and Historical Museum.

Riverton, KS

Driving into Riverton, you'll pass the Empire District Electric Company which was built over the years 1890-1910. This is one of the oldest apportioning power plants in the nation.

Also, look for the waterfall that's over the Empire District Electric Company's Power Dam. You can get a good view of it from the Highway 107 bridge.

Another popular attraction is the Rainbow Bridge. The Rainbow Bridge is located about two miles west of Riverton along the former US Hwy 66. The bridge is a concrete single lane structure and is noted for being the last surviving bridge of this type along the entire length of old Route 66. Today the road going over the bridge is a county road.

Baxter Springs, KS 

As you travel in a southwesterly direction from Riverton on Kansas Route 66 you'll come to the last Kansas town before entering Oklahoma. The town is Baxter Springs.

kansas route 66 visitors center
KS Route 66 Visitors Center, Courtesy NPS
If you're looking for an historic building in Baxter Springs once operated as a bank that in 1876 was robbed by Jesse James and Cole Younger, look no further. Today you can actually stay there as it's now a cafĂ© and a small bed and breakfast inn. The B & B is  named The Little Brick Inn located at 1101 Military Ave. The cafe and inn are owned by the same people. The inn is on the second floor and offered are both standard and parlor rooms.

Also in Baxter Springs is a Phillips 66 Gas Station that was constructed in the 1930s. The station operated first as Independent Oil and Gas and later Phillips Petroleum.  In 2003, the National Park Service listed the service station in the National Register of Historic Places, and the heritage society purchased the building. Today, the building operates as the Kansas Route 66 Visitor Center located on the north end of the commercial district.

Below are links to additional Western Trips article you may enjoy..... 

Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway

Idaho's Sawtooth Scenic Byway 

Visit Fort Sill Oklahoma

Kansas Route 66 Events 

If you're going to promote this historic highway you need an association. Kansas has such an association called the  Kansas Historic Route 66 Association located in Riverton. This association is a non-profit
dedicated to the preservation and promotion of "Route 66" in Kansas.

Among annual events is the Route 66 Festival, an Art and Craft Show in Galena. The 66-Mile Cruise  beginning at the Phillips 66 Station in Baxter Springs and ending at Cars on the Route in Galena.  Both of these events are held during the summer.

For up to date information about KS Route 66 events and festivals, you may ant to see website.....http://kshistoricroute66.com/  When dates are announced for events you should be able to see them on this site. 

(Article copyright Western Trips. Rainbow Bridge photo courtesy Abe Ezekowitz,  CC License 3.0. Galena Museum photo courtesy waymarking.com)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway / North Dakota Travel

The 64 mile Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway is found in one of the most scenic areas of western North Dakota. This scenic byway runs from north of Manning, ND, to Highway 22 through the town of Killdeer to Highway 23, then east of New Town, ND.

Scenery along the Scenic Byway
Not only is this a very scenic drive but there are also several interesting stops along the way to make your North Dakota trip a fun and educational experience.

Below we have highlighted just a few of the many sites to visit along the Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway.

The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation  
The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is home to the  Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Native Americans and is located in New Town, North Dakota on the Missouri River system.. The total area of the reservation is approximately 980,000 acres. 

The first to arrive in this area were the Arikaras in the late 1700's.  They were joined later by the Hidatsa who were originally a part of the Crows who left the Hidatsa and relocated further west. The Mandans were originally from the Ohio Valley before moving west. The Mandans were described in detail in the Lewis and Clark Journals. 

Mandan Dance Lodge at Fort Berthold
Three Affiliated Tribes Museum

The Three Affiliated Tribes Museum is located four miles west of New Town, ND along Hwy 23. Make a stop here and see their collection of exhibits and learn about the history and culture of the
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Native Americans. 

This museum located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation about 4 miles west of New Town, ND on Hwy 23. The museum's collection will give you a good idea of the life and history of these Native American tribes.

Little Missouri State Park
Here is an excellent place to view the rugged Badlands terrain in western North Dakota.

The Little Missouri State Park is located 17 miles north of Killdeer, ND on Hwy 22.. Most of the Little Missouri State Park is only accessed by hiking or horseback. This makes the park unique plus there's 47 miles of trails. Horses can be rented at a stable next to the park. The park's size is 4,592 acres and camping is allowed with some sites offering electricity and some sites more primitive.

 The Killdeer Mountain Battlefield State Historic Site

Located about 10 miles northwest of Killdeer, North Dakota is the  Killdeer Mountain Battlefield State Historic Site.

The battle took place on July 28-29, 1864. The opponents were about 2,200 U.S Army troops against the Santee and Teton Sioux. While this battle took place during the time of the American Civil War, the aim for the U.S. Army Cavalry was to attempt to put down ongoing trouble with the Sioux. The Sioux in this area had fled Minnesota earlier. This battle was actually a reprisal for the Sioux troubles in 1862 Minnesota that resulted in the largest mass hanging in U.S. history in Mankato. See our Western Trips article on the Minnesota Massacre on the link below...

The Minnesota Sioux War of 1862

While the Sioux put up a strong fight, the tide turned for the Union troops and the Sioux eventually began to flee in what would be about a nine mile running battle in all directions. Many Sioux were killed in battle but also many escaped along the rugged terrain. The Battle of Killdeer Mountain was a resounding victory for the army but as settlers and miners continued heading west over the ensuing years, the war certainly wasn't over. Custer's Battle of the Little Bighorn against Sioux tribes would occur some 12 years later.

There is a sandstone slab monument and flagpole mark part of the July 28, 1864, battlefield.  Two headstones honor soldiers who were killed in the cavalry charge. 

See additional Western Trips articles on the links below..... 

Visit the Old Spanish Trail Highway Through the South 

Drive Idaho's Sawtooth Scenic Byway 

Drive Route 66 in Kansaa

Our reference material and some very interesting reads regarding North Dakota includes.....History of North Dakota by author Elwyn B. Robinson.....Dakota : The Story of the Northern Plains by Norman K. Risjord.....The Warriors of Killdeer Mountain by James Willer.....The Most Scenic Drives in America, Newly Revised and Updated : 120 Spectacular Road Trips by the Editors of Readers Digest. 

Little Missouri River through North Dakota
The Scenic Byways of North Dakota 

North Dakota, traversed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was admitted to the Union in 1899. 

Today, North Dakota offers many historic sites and museums, tremendous recreational opportunities plus some of the most beautiful scenery along it's Scenic Byways.

North Dakota has ten scenic byways including the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit Scenic Byway, the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway, the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway, the Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway and several others. For more detailed information see website.....http://www.parkrec.nd.gov/byways/byways.html

(Article copyright Western Trips. Photos and images in the public domain)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Breckenridge Colorado Attractions / An Old Mining Town and Resort

breckenridge colorado view
A View of Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge Colorado
, a great place to visit anytime during the year, has it's roots back in the heydays of Colorado gold mining. The first settlers came into Summit County Colorado in 1859 during the time of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. What was a base camp for the miners would turn into the town of Breckenridge.

As the California Gold Rush demonstrated, a mining camp can turn into a town virtually overnight. One year later in 1860 a post office was established to serve more than 8,000 people. Today Breckenridge has the distinction of being Colorado's largest historic district containing more than 350 historic structures.

Breckenridge as a Mining Town / Mine Sites to Visit

The town of Breckenridge was settled to serve the miners working the placer (surface) gold deposits and today there are fun activities for the entire family taking you back to the era of the gold mines.

breckenridge colorado mines
Photo of old Country Boy Mine
The Country Boy Mine, opened in 1887, was one of the largest and most famous gold mines in Breckenridge. Take a  mine tour into a real gold mine at this historic restored mining site. While at the mine you can also pan for gold. Directions to the Country Boy Mine from downtown Breckenridge are as follows...From the center of town head North on Main Street.Take a right onto Wellington Road (Wellington Road is 1 block north of Ski Hill Road/Lincoln Avenue).Continue on Wellington Road east for 1 mile. Wellington Road becomes French Gulch Road.Veer right onto French Gulch Road continue for 1 mile.The mine is located on the right. For more information on the Country Boy Mine see website.....http://www.countryboymine.com/ 

 breckenridge colorado downtown
Winter in Breckenridge
Another Breckenridge attraction is the Lomax Mine. The mine is located near downtown Breckenridge and was an active hydraulic placer mining operation in the 1860's. Visit this old mine today and an expert guides will take you way back in time to Breckenridge's early mining days. Step inside a miner’s cabin, see original hydraulic mining equipment and learn to pan for gold. For more information on the Lomax Mine see website.....http://breckheritage.com/lomax-placer-mine-tour-and-gold-panning-site/#

The Washington Mine was one of the area’s largest underground mines in the 1880's. The underground size of the mine was more than 10,000 square feet. Visitors to the Washington Mine today will see the methods, equipment, lifestyles and hardships of the hard rock mining era in Colorado's Summit County. Your tour of the Washington Mine will take you underground for a first hand mining experience. The kid's will learn how to pan for gold and any gold they find they can keep.

Visit the Red, White and Blue Fire House Museum.The all volunteer Breckenridge Fire department was founded in 1880. Towns during the 1800's, especially those mining towns that grew fast, were largely constructed of wood. Because of this the fire demon could strike at any time. Many of the California gold country mining towns that sprang up in the early 1850's, also built mostly of wooden structures, suffered devastating fires, some more than once.

The name for the Breckenridge Colorado museum and the fire department came from the fact that the department first established three different fire fighting companies. The Fire Museum displays an original human-powered ladder cart, a restored hose cart as well as fire fighting equipment and uniforms from the first companies. The Breckenridge Fire Department over all these decades was comprised of miners, teamsters, saloon keepers, local merchants and many others who worked side by side fighting fires. The Fire Museum is open year-round with tours conducted by modern firefighters.

restaurants breckenridge colorado
Breckenridge restaurant
Breckenridge Colorado Today

Breckenridge is the oldest and largest town in Colorado's famous Summit County. Breckenridge has been referred to as the perfect mountain town. It is the largest downtown historic district in the state.

Through music, film, theater, visual arts, galleries, museums, historical sites, and educational programs, Breckenridge Colorado offers a perfect Colorado mountain

You may also enjoy additional Western Trips articles on Colorado vacation destinations found on the links below...

A Visit to Historic San Luis Colorado

Visit Historic Colorado / Cripple Creek 

Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway / ND

Attractions in Breckenridge cover the entire year. Summers in this mountain getaway find visitors  hiking, biking,  fishing and enjoying gold mine tours plus taking in the mild weather. Winter is a time of skiing and winter sports of all kinds. Breckenridge Colorado has a large world-class mountain with 155 trails and 31 lifts including the highest one in North America. No matter the season, a trip to this friendly town makes a perfect vacation or long weekend.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips. Old Country Boy Mine photo in public domain.)