Working in IT for a University has a lot of advantages but one disadvantage is that every 4th of July means “giant upgrade where your shift starts at 3:30am.” That was Sunday morning, so on Monday I was still a bit groggy and decided for a moderate ride. I’ve hit most of the stuff that I know about nearby Lawrence. I decided to ride out to Seneca and check out what is apparently the second largest hand-dug well in Kansas. The destination was even more boring than it sounds, but I had a nice ride.
I ended up heading north past Oskaloosa (any excuse to say that name) and ran across one of my favorite historical markers in the area. I have fond memories of being accosted by a random preacher here last winter, and James H. Lane is A Big Deal in Lawrence history.
Here’s the text so you don’t have to squint:
BATTLE OF HICKORY POINT
In September, 1856, a band of Proslavery men sacked Grasshopper Falls (Valley Valls) and terrorized the vicinity. On the 13th, the Free-State leader James H. Lane with a small company besieged a party of raiders in log buildings at Hickory Point, about one-half mile west of this marker. Unable to dislodge them, Lane sent to Lawrence for artillery and reinforcements. Col. James A. Harvey responded next day only to find that Lane had raised the siege and departed. “Sacramento,” historic Mexian War cannon, was fired into the buildings with little effect, and men pushing up a burning hayrack were shot in the legs. The skirmish ended in an armistice, celebrated, it is said, over a considerable quantity of whisky. Casualties were one Proslavery man killed and four wounded, and five Free-State men injured.
At his family’s farm home one-fourth mile west of this marker artist John Steuart Curry (1897-1946) was born and spent his boyhood years. In 1940 he painted his famed murals in the Kansas statehouse at Topeka
The history around here is insane, a good jumping off point is this Wikipedia entry on Quantrill’s Raid.
Ok, enough of that. How about a Kansas field?
I definitely didn’t jump onto a random side road and then follow a dirt track through some trees to get to this field because I wanted to use the restroom. Not at all. Lady riders: you have my respect. Y’all must be better planners than me (or very coordinated).
Eventually I arrived at my destination in Seneca! This is the well from the back, there were various picnicking types out front and frankly it looks about the same. Was definitely not worth interrupting them. What’s the point of having an enormous well if you can’t see the dang thing?
Fortunately I found other interesting stuff in Seneca. I couldn’t get a good picture of their neat old downtown, the main street is so wide it’s really hard to get a good shot. There was however a celebratory 4th of July military vehicle:
Which town am I in? Oh, thanks.
I’ll let you come up with your own puns:
Back on the road. It’s hard to capture the wide open beauty of Kansas, here are a few attempts. It was a lovely ride.
Stopped to snap this picture and had to park the scooter in some very sandy, well tilled soil that had absorbed a lot of rain the past couple of days. Nearly recreated that scene from Star Wars where Luke’s X-Wing slowly sinks into the swamp.
You can see Westar’s Jeffrey Energy Center working away in the distance:
At some point I saw a sign that said, “Historic Natural Stone Bridge: 6 miles –>”. That seemed promising so I tore off down a side road and (of course) was then dumped onto gravel for a mile or two. Part of what I like about Kansas is how much infastructure ends up basically in the middle of nowhere.
The theme of this ride report is “enjoy the ride, because you’ve been oversold on the destination”.
The ride out there was actually a lot of fun so the destination was more comical than frustrating. I saw at least two other cars similarly hornswoggled so that sign is effective!
Fun ride, a bit over 225 miles in 5 hours.