Monday, July 13, 2015

Continuing our Journey on Highway 36

One historic place along this highway which I did not mention in my last posting is in Oberlin, Kansas.  I did not write of it because the place has a connection with this posting.  In the late 1800s Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Comanche Indians were still in the Great Plains.  Roving bands would attack settlers.  In Oberlin in 1878 was a Cheyenne massacre, the last chapter relating to Native Indian battles for Kansas. In Phillipsburg, Kansas, our one and only overnight stop in Kansas, we stayed in a city park called Fort Bissell.  Again I did my research after we had set up camp, and discovered that there really had been a Fort Bissell.  It was not a military fort, but one built by settlers in the 1870s for protection from the Indians.  Driving around the park that evening we saw a reproduction of the old fort.
And, very much on a whim, we stopped on our way out of the park the next morning, to tour the fort.  It was one stop I am glad we made.  We were greeted at the fort museum by a very friendly lady who is the curator of the museum.  She told us about how the old fort came to be constructed and how it came to be a joke for the Native Americans.  They would show up in the area, scare the settlers into running for the fort, all the while leaving unprotected their home and farms. The Indians had a lot of free stuff then for the taking!  Talking further with the curator we learned that she is an immigrant from South Africa who has been living in our country for only one year.  She spoke of her love for her home country and how she misses the animals there, as lions and elephants.  We also shared with her stories of our time on the road and what we had learned regarding American history.  She did  have a great deal of knowledge regarding the latter, especially with the history of the fort.  We could have chatted with her all day, but she had the museum to run and we needed to get back on the road after touring the fort.
The original fort had only one cabin and a lean to.  The reconstructed fort has several older buildings which have been moved in from other areas, as well as schoolhouse.  Pictured above is the Albright Cabin, built in 1873.  Mr.Albright's frequent visitor was Buffalo Bill Cody who spent many nights there.  Mr. Albright and his wife raised 6 children there, he lived to be 104 years of age.  Another building in the fort is a sod hut, built in 2007 by the Phillipsburg High School Band.  They were raising money to go to the Orange Bowl Parade.  Below is a picture of the inside of the sod hut.  It does look amazingly homey!
Small town historic societies continue to amaze us, it is amazing what they can cobble together with few resources available to them.  The stockade of the fort was built in 2007 by Stockton Correctional Facility. 
The fort also has some wonderful antiques collected from local people.  A first for us was a cigar lighter.  We imagined it was only owned by stores, for customers to light up.  It has a small kerosene tank on the side.
Highway 36 had one more surprise for us before leave Kansas, which was a rest stop.  Highway 36 has very few of them, and none for a 37 foot-long motor home!  In the town of Atwood we followed signs directing us to a rest stop and discovered a lovely city park next to Lake Atwood.
 And there was plenty of space to park our home for a brief stop.  That evening we parked outside of   Denver, further postings will be from Colorado.

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