Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's going on in Ellis, Kansas

Well, it all depends upon what you want to do.  We just wanted a nice place to stay while attending Wild West Festival in Hays and we got that.  Tuesday we'll visit the boyhood home of Walter Chrysler (yup, the car guy) and the local railroad museum.  Even though Ellis looks like many other small towns anywhere with a downtown filled with vacant stores, the town itself is experiencing an increase in population and is among the fastest growing small towns in the state.

We are enjoying our time here. We are camped in a small and neat city-owned RV park with water, electric and a dump station.  The park fronts on Big Creek Lake, which was formed by building a dam over the Big Creek River.  The lake is stocked by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.  The restrooms are clean, the showers have plenty of hot water and the grounds are maintained.  Local police patrol periodically and they like to stop and chat.  Our space is $15/night and it is wide site with plenty of room for our Honda.  We get good satellite and wi-fi service. Sites are not reserved, so it is first-come, first-served.  We would definitely stay here again.
 Cookie-baker/computer-instructor, Sandy, would make notes and 
then review them with Gary so he could better retain what we were telling him
Sunday we had some time to spend with Gary Omel who needed a little assistance in signing up for the  ForeForum, the new on-line forum for Foretravel owners.  Sandy and I also helped him polish some other computer skills while here.  Gary took home a large container of chocolate chip and some cherry chocolate chewy cookies as well.  He has been such a great help to us with technical issues and problems on the motorhome.  We have his cell phone number for future needs/emergencies.

On the evening of the 4th we elected to stay home and we are really glad.  Fireworks are legal in Kansas,  and it was amateur night in the very large open grassy area across the road in back of the coach.  Just to be on the safe side, I got out the garden hose and wet down the roof and kept the hose handy until we went inside about 11:00 p.m.  Some of these people were way to careless around their own small children.  We saw a couple of goofy fireworks that looked like a miniature hot air balloon, but totally on fire.  The first one we saw landed in a tree next to the home of the guy who sent it up.  He probably didn't plan on that.  Fortunately, it burned out without setting the tree on fire.  Good thing it missed the 30 foot pine next to it.

This morning I walked to the Walter P. Chrysler boyhood home just a half block off of main street. The home and museum is modest, but his achievements in life are huge.  The 1924 Chrysler above is one of the first production cars produced by the new Chrysler Corporation.  http://www.allpar.com/cars/chrysler/chrysler-cars.html

Walter was a mechanical genius.  The first car he owned (a Locomobile)  he bought in Chicago in 1908 for $700 of his money and $4300* that he borrowed.  Instead of driving the car he proceeded to take it all apart to understand how it worked and then he put it back together. As he did this he made mental notes of what he would do differently or better.  The 1924 Chrysler above had a high compression 6 cylinder engine and hydraulic brakes.

From there I walked over to the Ellis Railroad Museum.  I'm not a railroad buff, but I enjoy looking at and reading about old places and things.  A 17 year-old high school senior was working there today and she was a walking encyclopedia of information about the town and about the museum.  She was one of those kids who is at ease with adults and has a mind like a sponge.  She said she loves growing up in a small town.  Smart kid.  When I told her that my maternal grandfather used to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad she told me that at one time it was the largest company in the world -- something I was not aware of. 
This area of the museum is a replica of the Western Union Telegraph and Cable office in Ellis, which once was a major hub of railroad activity in the central United States.

We visited the only grocery store in town, which was better than most and had a great meat department with fresh beef from Kansas.  Sandy stocked up.

Stay tuned.

*Footnote: The $5,000 cost of his first car -- a Locomobile while it seems like a King's Ransom in 1908, that dollar amount is taken from a small book I bought at the Chrysler museum. 


  1. You are in our old stomping grounds now ~ where we both grew up! Myself in Hill City and the hubster on a farm near Stockton, but he went to school in Logan. We own land in Rooks County but don't live in that part of the state. Where are you headed after Ellis? We are at home for another couple of weeks for our twin grandbabies 2nd birthday and then will be off until the end of Sept. Going north towards the edges of WI and MN. Have fun!

  2. I love small towns...they are where you meet the most interesting people and see so much of the past history of our country.
    What a nice RV Park to camp in...I like your view and the price is right!!
    What an interesting story about Walter Chrysler...thanks for sharing that with us. :)

    You guys take care and enjoy your stay!
    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  3. We are headed in Nebraska, then South Dakota and then into far northwestern Montana.

  4. Your RV looks so comfortable! Who would have thought that Ellis, Kansas could be so much fun! If you have a few minutes, drop by for a visit. My blogs are The Camp Host Housewife's Meanderings and Levonne's Pretty Pics.

  5. Small towns are normally peaceful and quiet with a cleaner air and healthier lifestyles . Anyway, the view from the Big Creek Lake is stunning. Nice shot!
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