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May 8, 2008
Contact: Margey Frederick, Special Events and Visitor Services, (785) 864-7103.

Wheat State Whirlwind Tour to traverse western, southwestern Kansas

LAWRENCE — Buffalo, both live and bronze, prairie architecture and community college education will be the topics discussed on Wednesday, May 21, the third day of the 2008 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour.

The tour, now in its 11th year, takes University of Kansas faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, on a trip throughout the state to highlight its natural beauty, landscape, economy, history and culture and helps provide an appreciation for the home communities of KU students. Chancellor Robert Hemenway sponsors the tour.

The third day of the trip will begin from Goodland and head to the Bronze Buffalo in Oakley, located in Logan County. The larger-than-life statue, located on West Second Street near the U.S. Highway 83 bypass, was created by artist Charlie Norton of Leoti. It depicts Buffalo Bill Cody atop his horse pursuing a bull buffalo.

Later that morning, the faculty and staff will get an up-close view of real buffalo. For the 11th consecutive year, the tour will visit a Duff Ranch pasture in Logan County. Richard Duff of Scott City and a crew will take participants into the buffalo pastures aboard flatbed trucks. Duff, the owner of Beef Belt Feeders of Scott City, raises about 200 head of buffalo, plus cattle, on the ranch near U.S. Highway 83. Tour participants will also pay a visit to the Keystone Gallery, a fossil and rock gift shop located at the pasture’s gate. The gallery is operated by Chuck Bonner and his wife, Barbara Shelton.

Between the buffalo stops, the bus will wander off Highway 83 to give riders a look at the Monument Rocks in Gove County. The 70-foot tall chalk pyramids were formed by erosion that began more than 80 million years ago. Recently named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas, the rocks were the first natural formation chosen by the Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

At 12:45 p.m., the tour bus will arrive in Ness City. The group will have lunch at and tour the Ness County Bank Building, also known as the “Skyscraper of the Plains.” The imposing, four-story, 18,000-plus square-foot structure was immediately dubbed “the finest and most imposing” structure west of Topeka upon its completion in 1890. The historic building underwent a major renovation in the late 1980s and now is home to the Ness City Chamber of Commerce and a Prairie Mercantile store. The store features Kansas food, books, pictures, post rock carvings and more. Staffed by volunteers, all proceeds go to the maintenance and remodeling of the building.

The Do Gooders, a local Relay For Life team, will cater the lunch. Sabra Clarke is team leader. The group walks in the annual event to raise money for cancer research and programs.

The day will conclude with a visit to Dodge City Community College. President Richard Burke and several other administrators will tell the group about the college’s offerings, programs and history. Dodge City Community College is an example of schools throughout the state in which students start their education before transferring to KU. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss how KU can better partner with community colleges to offer the best possible education to Kansas students.

The tour will continue Thursday, May 22, with stops at the Spearville Wind Farm, Fort Larned, Stafford County Flour Mill, Hudson, the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson and the Kansas Sampler Foundation in Inman.

To view daily itineraries, maps of this year’s route and photos of previous tours, visit www.wheatstate.ku.edu. During the tour, visit www.wheatstate.ku.edu/blog for comments from this year’s tour participants, photos from stops and updates on the tour.

Itinerary for Wednesday, May 21

7:30 a.m. — Depart Goodland for Oakley (57 miles)
8:30 a.m. — Arrive in Oakley; Bronze Buffalo
8:50 a.m. — Depart for Monument Rocks and Duff Ranch
10:15 a.m. — Arrive at Duff Ranch; buffalo pasture and visit to the Keystone Gallery
11:45 a.m. — Depart for Ness City (65 miles)
12:45 p.m. — Lunch in Ness City; Skyscraper of the Plains
1:45 p.m. — Tour bank building
2:15 p.m. — Depart for Dodge City (54 miles)
3:15 p.m. — Arrive at Dodge City Community College
4:45 p.m. — Depart for hotel
5 p.m. — Check in at the Best Western Country Inn and Suites
6 p.m. — Dinner in the hotel

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