Independence celebrates its own Miss Able, who blazed the trail for human space travel when she was launched to space 60 years ago
Mickey Mantle made history in 1949 when he hit his first professional home run at Independence’s Shulthis Stadium. His ball soared over the stadium wall, ultimately landing on nearby Monkey Island at Ralph Mitchell Zoo – or, at least, local legend tells the story that way.
Whether Mickey’s ball really did reach the zoo’s monkeys or not, Monkey Island would produce some big history of its own just a handful of years later with the birth of rhesus monkey Miss Able. The 7-pound primate would go on to become the first successful American astronaut, flying to space and returning home with squirrel monkey Miss Baker in May of 1959. Together, these two tiny pioneers blazed the trail for … Read More »
Off the Beaten PathBike culture grows as SEK promotes cycling
Photo courtesy of Randy Rasa
Randy Rasa has found a new hobby: dropping by the trailhead for the Lehigh Portland Trails just to peek at the cars in the parking lot. Their license plates hail from all over – from every county in the area and from surrounding states. Think Missouri, Texas and California. Their diversity, Randy says, is indicative of a trend happening in Allen County. A surging bike culture is taking root, thanks to several first-class trails, a new bike shop and a novel bike share programB. And it’s not just Allen County. There are communities of cyclists all across Southeast Kansas, and they’re coming together more often these days. PedalSEK is convening area cyclists for 12 rides in 12 months in 12 Southeast Kansas counties, and the new ABC … Read More »
Rural By Choice
Schenker Family Farms and McCune Farm to Market invest in SEK – while serving customers around the world
It was 2008. Cherie Schenker logged on to Craigslist, a relatively new website at the time, to advertise a quarter of Schenker Family Farms’ grass-fed beef to local consumers.
It didn’t work.
“Somehow, it ended up going on the Craigslist in Orange County, California,” she says with a laugh. “But then – someone called.”
And someone else called. Then someone else. Quickly, Cherie and her husband, Kevin, realized: There’s a huge market for this.
“We needed a website and we needed to figure out how to ship this stuff,” Cherie says. “Necessity is the mother of invention … and we just kind of got propelled into it from there.”
Where they’ve landed 10 years later is one of the largest direct-marketing livestock operations in the state … Read More »
Welcome to The Lavender Patch
Fort Scott family farm features 1,000+ lavender plants
When you enter Davin and Betsy Reichard’s home, you can’t miss it: that familiar, unmistakable scent of lavender.
It’s inevitable. The Reichards are surrounded by lavender, from the hundreds of lavender plants that are blooming just outside their front door to the dozens of homemade lavender products they make in their home each week.
That’s just everyday life (“I don’t even smell it anymore,” Betsy says) as the Reichards run The Lavender Patch Farm in Fort Scott. Their small family operation centers on just over 1,000 lavender plants, plus a gift shop filled with Betsy’s lavender creations…
Want to keep reading about The Lavender Patch Farm? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand … Read More »
Fall in Love at Summit Hill Gardens
There’s just something about Summit Hill. It captivated Patsy Smeed from the very beginning.
She moved there – one acre of land south of Chanute, the site of an old one-room schoolhouse – more than 40 years ago with her late husband Larry, an artist and professor. All these years later, she still hasn’t left.
“I just fell in love with Summit Hill,” she says. “It’s been a lot of great therapy for me.”
Since her arrival, Patsy has slowly expanded her land from one acre to 65 acres. The sprawling property is much more than her home or the location of a historic schoolhouse: It’s also the site of her business, Summit Hill Gardens, which offers a soap shop (all products Patsy makes herself) and wedding venue/event center in partnership with her sister-in-law Gretchen Brant.
No matter … Read More »
Every other year, we publish this special tourism issue to give Southeast Kansas readers ideas for places to go and things to do right in their own backyard — and this one is our best yet, packed with more than 150 ideas!
Southeast Kansas Living subscribers received the 68-page Adventures & Day Trips issue for free as part of their subscription. Looking for your own copy? Contact us to purchase a copy and have it shipped directly to you.
Southeast Kansas provides endless opportunities for discovery and fun. We hope you’ll use the Adventures & Day Trips issue as a guide to get out and explore this beautiful, historic corner of Kansas!
Mined Land Wildlife Area boasts premier hunting and fishing – and unique history
You’ve never experienced a Kansas wildlife area quite like this one.
Spread over 47 different tracts of land, the Mined Land Wildlife Area encompasses nearly 15,000 acres throughout Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties. But it’s the area’s history that makes it extraordinary: Once wrecked by coal mining, the land is now home to perhaps the most unique wildlife area in the state, having been transformed to offer some of the state’s finest hunting and fishing.
“What was at one time environmental devastation has, with some reclamation, turned into a dense growth of vegetation, along with these strip mine lakes that cover up to 1,500 acres in the area,” says David Jenkins, wildlife manager for the Mined Land Wildlife Area. “There’s nothing else quite like it in the state of … Read More »
Thrive Allen County makes big strides for Southeast Kansas
You don’t have to search hard to see the impact Thrive Allen County has had in Iola.
There’s the new Allen County Regional Hospital, the soon-to-be-constructed grocery store in the heart of town, the bike sharrows painted in the streets. There’s the 7-plus-mile trail system on the south edge of the city, the Happy Tails Dog Park, and even the less-visible projects – like a pilot program to help public housing residents quit using tobacco to comply with new federal requirements.
Thrive Allen County either initiated or had a hand in every one of those projects – and they’re really just the tip of the iceberg…
Want to keep reading about Thrive Allen County? Check out the spring issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much … Read More »
Hunt, fish, explore, or kick back and relax at Timber Hills Lake Ranch
When you cross the gate into the ranch with one of the largest hunting preserves in the state of Kansas, it’s like entering another world.
A world where trophy elk and deer roam free. Where Civil War-era structures still stand. Where the views will take your breath away.
“We are the only place in Kansas that offers what we offer,” Aaron Gibson says. “There’s nowhere else like us.”
He’s talking about Timber Hills Lake Ranch in Mapleton, located around 20 miles northwest of Fort Scott and currently in its ninth year in operation. One of more than 100 hunting lodges in the state – including several premier locations in Southeast Kansas – Timber Hills sets itself apart from the pack, Gibson says, by offering adventure alongside its first-class hunting and … Read More »
It’s the perfect time of year to discover this state park and its ancient forest
According to park manager Kim Jones, if you’re looking for fall foliage in Southeast Kansas, Cross Timbers State Park near Toronto “is the place to be.”
Of course, Cross Timbers is the place to be for a lot of reasons. Not only does it impress with its natural beauty, but the park is also home to popular hunting and fishing, free water recreation, cozy cabin accommodations, and, get this: an ancient forest of post and blackjack oaks, its trees dating from as far back as 1727.
According to the University of Arkansas, the Cross Timbers region “may be the least disturbed forest ecosystem that survives in the eastern United States.”
“There’s just a little finger of the Cross Timbers here in Kansas, and I think we resemble the … Read More »