Montgomery County Elk City, Kansas

Idyllic Elk City Is The Place Americans May Be Seeking

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        It would do everyone in Montgomery County good to visit Elk City.

        Overlooked for many years ---bypassed to the east by Highways 160 and 39 --- Elk City remains an idyllic little spot in our county. And if you haven't visited there in a while, you really should do so.

        Sure it has its eye-sores and skeletons of yesteryear. But for the most part, Elk City has maintained its charm. Its tree-lined streets and white clapboard houses look just like they did 40 to 50 years ago. And the people residing there have a stubborn will to survive, just as their pioneer grandparents did.

        Monday evening, I was privileged to visit the Elk City Pride meeting, and was so inspired by community devotion. Nobody really expects Elk City to become another Branson, and there are no pipe dreams about the town regaining its wonderful Main Street which dried up three decades ago. But there is pride.

        Elk Citians talk about their new city building as if it were the Taj Mahal. They hold fund-raisers for a new lodge building as though fraternal organizations were thriving. Their churches still hold evening services, and they band together to present Vacation Bible School for local youths in the summer.

        Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Elk City Pride organization is the average age of its members --- well over 65. Some key members are over 90 years young. Who said civic workers are burned out? In Elk City, they're just getting the ol' furnace stoked.

        It is a perplexing thing to see many people in larger communities --- even those in Cherryvale and Caney --- who refuse to get involved in community improvement projects. "Let the younger ones do it," they often say. "I've paid my dues."

        Well, they need an inspiring trip to Elk City. There they will find two senior citizen organizations, several social and service clubs, two fraternal groups, four churches, and out on the east edge of town --- one of the best hamburgers in the region.

        Elk city is small enough that they can see progress as it happens. They count it in one's and two's --- not millions. And they hold their heads up when they say, "We're still kicking!"

        Pride cannot be measured. It can only be lived. And in Elk City, they're showing the rest of Montgomery County how it is spelled.

        Go visit. Drive around town at 5 miles per hour. Stop and visit with someone out working in their yard. Ask directions to best fishing hole. Buy a chance on the quilt down at the community building. Buy some whole hog sausage to help build that lodge.

        Then go back to your own community and try to emulate what your good neighbors in Elk City are doing for the good of our area.

        They refuse to be baffled by a bypass, and they still enjoy the simple pleasures of getting together often.

        And their map to happiness works.

By Rudy Taylor, Publisher
The Montgomery County Chronicle

Originally published February 18, 1998 in the Montgomery County Chronicle
Used by permission.

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January 12, 1999 / Sandy Faler, Elk City, Kansas /

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