Yesterday we took a drive seeing the sights of the Smoky VALLEY Scenic Byway. Okay, I know that is pushing it - but give me a break. Valley DOES start with V.
Kansas has designated many such scenic byways. This one started in WaKeeney south on Rt. 283, east of rt 4 and north on 147 back to Ogallah, a total of only about 60 miles. The byway winds through mixed-grass and short-grass prairies. Most of what is seen is farmland. The Scenic Byway is filled with abundant history of the westward bound pioneers.
There are few structures along the route making those few very evident. This is Zion Lutheran Church built in 1920 by German immigrants. There are still services held in this church. There are no other buildings for miles around.
Wilcox School House is listed on the State and National register of historic places. It is one of the last remaining rural school houses in the area. Apparently much needed repairs are being made.
Four and a half miles off the paved road is Cedar Bluff Scenic Overlook.
A rugged gravel road leads to the top of the 100 ft high cedar-covered bluff. The overlooks offers a spectacular view of the area and is supposed to be a good spot to see wildlife. We saw none here but a short ride later saw 4 mule deer and then a little later 9 white tail deer.
Along the route is Cedar Bluff State Park. We pulled into the park entrance but found it would cost $15.00 to enter. As we would not be using the park, just driving around, we turned around and headed back on the Byway.
We went off the paved road again in search of Threshing Machine Canyon but could not find it. In 1867 Native Americans attacked a wagon train that was transporting a threshing machine to Utah. Names of pioneers are carved into the limestone bluffs dating back to the mid 1800's and are still visible. We thought there would be signs directing us but didn't find them either.
Emanuel Lutheran Church was established by early settlers from Sweden and was build in 1905 of native limestone quarried near Threshing Machine Canyon. A small congregation still uses the church. Again, no other visible structures in sight.
As we travel through Kansas for another 11 days, we plan on driving a few more of their Scenic Byways. Looking forward to it!
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