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May 9, 2008
Contact: Margey Frederick, Special Events and Visitor Services, (785) 864-7103.

Day four of Wheat State Whirlwind Tour to focus on beauty, treasures of Kansas

LAWRENCE — More than 40 University of Kansas faculty and staff will explore central and south-central Kansas on Thursday, May 22, stopping along the way to learn more about wind power, military history, old-time flour milling and the hidden treasures of Kansas on the fourth day of the 2008 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway sponsors the tour, now in its 11th year. The trip takes KU faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, throughout the state to give them a firsthand look at the culture, economy, history and landscape of the Sunflower State.

The day’s travels will begin with a 7:50 a.m. visit to the Spearville Wind Farm in Ford County. The site, located north of Highway 50/56, is home to 67 1.5 megawatt turbines. The turbines, completed in 2006, can produce enough energy to power 33,000 homes.

Fort Larned is the next scheduled stop on the tour. The National Historic Site was home to troops who guarded the Santa Fe Trail. The fort, which features nine restored buildings, also was the site of an Indian agency, responsible for maintaining civil relations with Plains Indians. Participants will tour the fort, learning more about the role it played in early frontier Kansas.

The faculty and staff then will head to Hudson, where they will tour the Stafford County Flour Mill. The mill was established in 1882 by German immigrant Gustav Krug and celebrated 100 years of making Hudson Cream flour in 2007. The plant has survived fires, tornadoes and financial difficulties to continue milling over the years.

While in Hudson, the group will have lunch at the community building, catered by the Wheatland Café.

After lunch, the bus will roll on to the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Stafford. The site is a haven for migratory waterfowl like ducks, pelicans and shore birds, as well as land-dwelling animals such as bobcats, deer and coyotes. The refuge is also a favorite spot of wildlife enthusiasts, welcoming bird watchers, nature photographers and during designated times of year, hunters.

The Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas, is the next stop. Located 650 feet below ground, the museum is housed in a working salt mine and takes visitors on a “dark ride,” a tram tour through unlit areas of the mine. Antique mining equipment and displays chronicling advances in mining techniques are part of the cavernous, temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms.

The final stop of the evening will be a dinner hosted by Marci Penner at the Kansas Sampler Foundation in Inman. Penner, a former KU basketball player, is director of the foundation and author of the “Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.” Both encourage people to explore all the state has to offer from border to border.

The 2008 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour will conclude Friday, May 23, with visits to the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Yoder, Highland Ranch in Lyon County and Cottonwood Falls.

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 Thursday, May 22

7:30 a.m. — Depart for Spearville Wind Farm (16 miles)
7:50 a.m. — Slow drive by wind farm, moving on to Fort Larned (45 miles)
8:45 a.m. — Arrive at Fort Larned; tour of fort
10:10 a.m. — Depart Fort Larned for Hudson (30 miles)
11 a.m. — Arrive in Hudson; tour Stafford County Flour Mill
Noon — Lunch in Hudson
1 p.m. — Depart for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge; stop at visitor center
2:45 p.m. — Arrive at Underground Salt Museum (elevators at 3 and 3:20 p.m.)
5 p.m. — Depart for Inman (16 miles)
5:30 p.m. — Arrive at the Kansas Sampler Foundation; dinner with Marci Penner
7:30 p.m. — Depart for McPherson (10 miles)
7:45 p.m. — Check in at Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Holiday Manor

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