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May 16, 2006
Contact: Margey Frederick, visitor services director, (785) 864-7103.

KU Wheat State Whirlwind Tour wraps up with stops in the Flint Hills

LAWRENCE — Nearly 50 new University of Kansas faculty and staff members will finish the Wheat State Whirlwind Tour of Kansas on Friday, May 26, with stops in Yoder, Lyon County, Cottonwood Falls and Council Grove.

Started in 1997 by Chancellor Robert Hemenway, the tour introduces faculty to the people, economy, history and landscape of Kansas.

The final day will begin with a visit to the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Yoder. Director Ed Pavey will give a demonstration and tell about the center’s mission. Established by the Legislature in 1968, the center is the central law enforcement training facility for Kansas. The center is a unit of KU’s Continuing Education and is south of Hutchinson at a former Naval air station.

From the training center, the faculty will travel to the rolling tall grass prairie of the Flint Hills region. They will meet with Scott and Carol Ritchie of Wichita at their Lyon County ranch, about 20 miles southeast of Cottonwood Falls. The Ritchies, both KU alumni, will host the group for lunch. Scott Ritchie will talk to the group about ranching in the Flint Hills and lead a nature walk.

From the ranch, the faculty will travel to Cottonwood Falls, the Chase County seat featured in William Least Heat Moon’s PrairyErth. The faculty will visit the community’s downtown area. Some will shop, and others will visit the historic Chase County Courthouse. Built from local limestone in the 19th century, it is the oldest courthouse still in use in Kansas.

En route to Council Grove, the National Historic Landmark Z Bar/Springhill Ranch will be a point of interest for the faculty. The Z Bar/Springhill Ranch features an 11-room mansion built in 1881 from local limestone. The mansion has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

As the bus approaches Council Grove, the Kaw Mission State Historical Site will be another point of interest for the faculty. Originally constructed as a school for children of the Kaw, or Kanza, Indians who lived near Council Grove from 1848 until their removal to Indian Territory in 1873, the site is a museum featuring on the heritage of Kaw Indians and the Santa Fe Trail. In 1825, what became Council Grove was simply a grove of trees on the Neosho River. The grove marked the site of a treaty between U.S. officials and chieftains of the Osage Indians allowing traders passage through Osage territory on the Santa Fe Trail.

The KU faculty will take walking tours of their choice through Council Grove’s historic downtown area, which includes 21 sites and wayside exhibits. Some participants will visit local shops, and others may find a cup of coffee in the Hays House restaurant or sample wares in the Trail Days Bakery, both in Santa Fe Trail landmark buildings.

Following the stop in Council Grove, the tour will return to Lawrence, concluding its six-day, nearly 1,500-mile trek across Kansas.

Intinerary for Friday, May 26

7:40 a.m. — Depart for Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center
8 a.m. — Arrive at Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. Demonstration with Ed Pavey, director
9 a.m. — Depart for Ritchie Ranch (100 miles)
11 a.m. — Lunch at Ritchie Ranch with Scott and Carol Ritchie
1 p.m. — Depart for Cottonwood Falls (20 miles)
1:30 p.m. — Arrive Cottonwood Falls
2 p.m. — Depart for Council Grove (22 miles). Points of interest: Z Bar/Springhill Ranch and Kaw Mission Historic Site
2:30 p.m. — Arrive Council Grove. Tour downtown
3:30 p.m. — Depart for Lawrence (84 miles)
5 p.m. — Arrive Lawrence, KU Visitor Center

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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