The Solomon Valley. . .A Land of Fascinating Kansas Treasures to Explore

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Along the Solomon Valley

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Sheridan County
Cottonwood Ranch
Graham County
Hill City
Rooks County
Webster State Park
Osborne County
Mitchell County
Cawker City
Glen Elder
Glen Elder State Park
Solomon Rapids
Cloud County



October 2013

Midland Trail Centennial

As an alliance, we are coordinating work to raise awareness of The Midland Trail. It was the trans- continental, Washington D.C. to San Francisco, trail that was logged through Kansas in 1914. We hope to move from “forgotten” to rediscovered and recog- nized. Our goal is to locate contacts in the 16 Kansas counties the Midland Trail crossed, from Wyandotte to Sherman County, and to work with them through this process. The initial outreach has been made, and responses are coming in. We look forward to commemorating the centennial of this automobile route, portions of which became U.S. Highway 24


June 2013

Melvina Williams Melvina Williams, Topeka, a founding member of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance, recently died. She designed the Alliance logo and was a frequent contributor to the Call for Voices. Sincere sympathy is extended to her family and friends.


August 2012
Sleeping Heroes

The Kansas State Historical Society is promoting the project “Sleeping Heroes: The Impact of Civil War Veterans on Kansas Communities,” based on a student project forged by Glasco 7th-grade students in 2007. Students statewide are encouraged to locate Civil War veterans interred in local cemeteries. This information will become part of a state data base. It will also lead to meaningful insight into community development. Information about the Sleeping Heroes project can be found on the KSHS website at .


March 2012
Osborne Public Library Hosts Workshop

Osborne Public Library hosted a workshop for writers following the annual meeting. Led by Denise Low, a dozen people were introduced to the ideas she explores in her new book Natural Theologies: Essays About Literature of the Middle West. Everyone received a copy of the book, and wrote of their own ideas and plans for writing. All were inspired and expressed hopes to gather again to hear the progress everyone makes, with July the target to meet again. We are indebted to Librarian Karen Wallace, the Osborne Public Library, and Denise Low for providing this writing incubator.


October 2011
The Alliance at Work

Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance has provided heritage support during the past year. This took various forms, responding to needs and opportunities. Just a quick review will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Alliance at work.

A letter of interpretation, encouraging Beloit to maintain the historic roadside park located there on Highway 24, was an action step related to the history of the highway. The park reflects a different pace of travel and still presents welcome community hospitality.

We are exploring on-site involvement at Nicodemus as the Visitors’ Center creates a full schedule of activities.

Damar hosted a week-long residency with students connecting with community elders, listening to their stories, and celebrating them in song. This is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council, supporting Aaron Fowler's mentoring role as teacher and artist. Humanities consultants Leo Oliva and Denise Low helped facilitate this project.

With our encouragement, organizations in Colby are working to place signs marking the World War II Veterans’ Memorial Highway at its western end, the junction of Highway 83 and 24, east of Colby.

The history of the highway was literally on the road, as Lynda Huffer and Joan Nothern paraded the Red Line Basketball Team and Highway in the Glasco Fun Day parade, October 1, and the Kansas 150 Sunflower Parade October 8 in Wichita.

Continuing the connections between the Solomon Valley and Birger Sandzen’s paintings, we inspired a cello suite, responding to his art. Composer-cellist Steven Elisha premiered Solomon Valley Sketches in Topeka on October 9, 2011.

Our 7th Call for Voices provided motivation for contemporary authors to add their poetry and prose to the body of Solomon Valley literature. We are grateful to the five judges who help make this possible: Denise Low, Lora Reiter, Jim Hoy, Greg German, and Fred Whitehead.

Finally, the Solomon Valley Anthology, this newsletter, has printed many of the Call for Voices entries and added to our capacity as heritage caretakers to tell our stories. The county themes this year featured libraries, houses with histories, railroads and depots, and WPA projects. Cooperation with county researchers makes this possible.

June 2011
Annual Nicodemus Homecoming, July 29-31

The Nicodemus Homecoming Committee is coordinating preparations for the 133rd annual Emancipation Celebration. The 2011 dates are July 29-July 31. and our theme is “Through Diversity comes Unity.” There will be a multitude of activities each day. Highlights include the Free Pancake Breakfast Saturday morning; the parade which follows the breakfast; basketball tournament and baseball game during the busy day, and many other events.There will be vendors on hand with food and merchandise. Friday night and Saturday night will feature a local jazz band followed by a dance and fireworks. A gospel program will be held at the First Baptist church on Saturday evening; and Sunday will feature morning services with a guest church in charge. Family and friends come from all over the US to attend this annual event. Information will be available and updated often at our website


April 2011
New Lottie Albright Mystery by Charlotte Hinger

Lethal Lineage, Charlotte Hinger’s second Lottie Albright mystery set in western Kansas, has just been released. Charlotte is a former member of the SV24 board, formerly of Hoxie and now a resident of Colorado. Lethal Lineage follows Deadly Descent (2009) in the Albright mystery series. Both offer details of western Kansas history (they could be classified as historical novels as well as mysteries). Both books in this series have received rave reviews. Details may be seen at  which also includes ordering information for these and other books by this talented writer.


October 2010
Stockton Public Library Plans Centennial Program

The Stockton Public Library, a Carnegie Library dedicated in January 2011, will celebrate its centennial during January 9-15, 2011. Plans include a rededication and open house with special exhibits on January 9 (with Kansas State Librarian Joanne Budler as speaker), a program by Leo Oliva about Andrew Carenegie and his libraries on January 10, a look at the early history of Stockton compiled by Gail McComb on January 11, a program on Sod and Stubble by Von Rothenberger on January 12, portrayal of the first librarian by Joan Balderston on January 13, Joan Nothern’s program about Highway 24 on January 14, and a banquet with program by Robert Day on January 15. All programs are open to the public. The only charge will be for the banquet.

Working Toward April 2011 Goal


August, 2010

New Event Proposed for the Solomon Valley

The Kansas Poems of William Stafford will be tapped for Solomon Valley poetry readings during April 2011. Look for more details as we celebrate National Poetry Month with this 150th year Kansas anniversary event, honoring and reading William Stafford’s Kansas poems. Fred Whitehead is working with us, taking a leadership role in developing this project.


August, 2010

Alton Loses Historic Building

The IOOF stone building in Alton, constructed in 1898, collapsed recently. This structure was an important part of the community for more than a century before the roof fell in and much of the stonework came down. The rubble and possible additional collapse are a danger and plans to clean up the site are underway.


August, 2010

Sending a Taste of the Valley

There is more than one way to package the heritage of the Solomon Valley. The honey, soaps, arts, books, and other high quality goods produced here are a potential gift basket bearing a sense of place. The Main Street Gallery and Gifts, 410 Main, Stockton, is willing and able to facilitate creating and mailing custom gift baskets from the Solomon Valley.  Please encourage those you know who have arts, crafts, and products suitable for this project to contact Jane Cunningham, 785-425-6674, or at the Gallery.This is a vision that fits the Solomon Valley!


May, 2010

Traveling Exhibit Planned
The Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance has been asked to form a partnership with Traub Design Associates to create a traveling exhibit on the History of U.S. 24 in the Solomon Valley. This means gathering information along the way that relates to the particular histories in each county. The companion exhibit to the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Journey Stories in Glasco focused on Glasco’s role.  The museums and libraries within the Solomon Valley will be asked to work with local researchers to fashion the local presentations for the traveling exhibit. This should result in exhibits with high interest at each place along the way. Volunteers are welcome to work with this project.


September, 2009
Rural Kansas:  Come…and Get It!

The first phase of the 2009 partnership between the Kansas Sampler Foundation and the state tourism office, with rural tourism and heritage groups, was completed with 79 communities participating in the two-day training sessions. 

Volunteer-led teams sharpened their skills to use the eight rural culture elements to research their own towns and then present them on the “Rural Kansas: Come…and Get It!” web site in an exciting way. Six SV24 communities are among those who graduated from the training: Beloit, Cawker City, Downs, Glasco, Morland, and Stockton.

The Alliance supports this statewide initiative to attract visitors to know and experience rural Kansas.  More training opportunities will be offered in 2010.


July, 2009
Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site to Close

The Kansas State Historical Society has announced that cutbacks due to budget cuts will result in the closing of Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site at Studley in September. This is an important historic site in the Solomon Valley. Site administrator Don Rowlison will write more about the ranch for the next issue.


July, 2009

Roy Peaslee Photo Collection

The last issue of SVA included the story of the photos taken by Roy Frank Peaslee during the period 1900-1904. The entire collection will be placed on display later this year. A few of the photos are included here as a sample of this wonderful find, with apologies for the poor reproductions from the copy machine.   Read More About the Collection


April, 2009

Kansas Sampler Festival

The annual Sampler Festival will be in Concordia, May 2-3, 2009. This event, sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, moves to different locations in the state every two years. It allows communities to showcase their special features and becomes a true celebration of what can be seen, tasted, and experienced in all Kansas. The SV24 Alliance will help tell our story in the Northwest Region tent, working with Northwest Kansas Travel Council. Admission is charged to enter the festival grounds at City Park, Concordia.


April, 2009

8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine

The next 8 Wonders of Kansas contest will focus on cuisine. The 24 finalists will be announced soon by Marci Penner at the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Everyone is encouraged to vote for his or her choices for the final 8. It is recommended that everyone eat a meal at each of the places nominated before casting a ballot. This well could be the most broadening experience one can enjoy by participating in the 8 Wonders contests. Get out their and eat . . . and eat . . . and vote


January, 2009

Nicodemus NHS Has New Superintendent

In September of 2008, Mark Weaver joined Nicodemus National Historic Site as Park Superintendent. The history of Nicodemus is of great national importance and the plans to share this story with the nation include restoration of the AME Church, planning for a new Visitor Center, and preparation of a number of other planning and research documents that will lay a strong foundation for future action.

Mark received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University in 1979 and his Master of Landscape Architecture from Virginia Tech in 1989. In between he worked in the private sector in Arizona, California and Michigan, planning and designing park and recreation facilities, and corporate and commercial landscapes.

Following his marriage to Stephanie in 1988 and completion of his MLA, Mark taught Landscape Architecture at Auburn University leading undergraduate and graduate classes and design studios in systems, campus planning, and park and recreation design. In 1993 Mark, Stephanie, and son Sam moved to Van Buren, Missouri, where Mark joined the National Park Service at Ozark National Scenic Riverways as Park Landscape Architect. There, he prepared facilities improvements plans and provided overall design guidance for the park

In 1998, Mark transferred to the Wisconsin office of the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program with the family and second son, Ben. There he partnered with many communities to develop comprehensive trails plans, green infrastructure plans, and assisted with nonprofit organizational development.

Recently, Mark has detailed with the Department of the Interior International Technical Assistance Program consulting on eco- and cultural-tourism projects in Central and South America, most recently designing tourist facilities at the Mayan site of El Mirador in northern Guatemala.

Mark welcomes your thoughts and opinions regarding the future of Nicodemus National Historic Site. You can contact him at 785-839-4321 or e-mail him at  


Glasco Awarded Fundraising Tax Credits
October, 2008


The Kansas State Historical Society announced that Partnership Historic Sites tax credits have been granted to 12 historic Kansas sites for the 2009 fiscal year, including the Glasco Community Foundation, for the Glasco Downtown Historic District. 

For more information on Glasco tax credits contact: Joan Nothern at  or  785-568-0120.


The Partnership Historic Sites program seeks to recognize and aid nonprofit organizations that are making a contribution to Kansas history and its interpretation. Qualifying organizations across the state may apply to be a Partnership Site, thus making them eligible for the Partnership Historic Sites Tax Credits. The program allows partnership sites additional opportunities for the preservation and interpretation of Kansas History. Donors making gifts to these sites receive a tax credit equal to 50% of their donation.


For more information on the Partnership Historic Sites program, visit resource/partnership or call 785-272-8681, ext.240. Congratulations Glasco!

June, 2008

THE SV24 Alliance is pleased to acknowledge the following donations for the Chautauqua Fund & Brochure Fund.

Chautauqua Fund

Eileen Wilson, Osborne

Mildred Morgan, Osborne

Charley & Faye Minium, Morland

Carldon Broadbent, Beloit

Rollie & Joan Nothern, Glasco

Glasco Community Foundation, Glasco

Western Hills Motel, Hill City

Rooks County Economic Development, Stockton

Citizens State Bank, Morland

Glasco Arts Council, Glasco

Linda Clover, Cawker City 


Brochure Fund

City of Morland, Morland

Graham County Economic Development, Hill City 

Kansas Sampler Festival
March, 2008

One of the best ways we have to know ourselves better as a place, a destination for visitors to come to know, is to tell others about who we are in the Solomon Valley.


The annual Kansas Sampler Festival brings together rural communities from all over Kansas so they might portray their unique qualities and celebrate Kansasness. This year the Sampler Festival will be held at Concordia, in Cloud County. It means we will be speaking to friends who won’t say “Where? The Solomon Valley? Is that in Kansas?”


We will be saying, “It’s just down the road.” This will be a different experience for us, one we look forward to. We will be making special preparations, trying to include every Highway 24 community.


The Kansas Sampler Festival will be Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4. Please take note and try to attend. The panorama that is Kansas is coming right into the neighborhood. 


Superintendent Changes at Nicodemus NHS
March, 2008

Nicodemus National Historic Site Superintendent Sherda Williams will be transferred to the President James A. Garfield Home in Ohio after the end of March. Williams has been a great supporter of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance, and we will miss her enthusiasm, professionalism, and friendship. Mark Weaver has been appointed acting superintendent at Nicodemus while a search is underway for a new superintendent. We wish Sherda Williams the best of everything as she makes this move from our wonderful Solomon Valley.


December, 2007

Two travel books shed new insight into the resources of the Solomon Valley.
Kansas Murals, A Traveler's Guide, by Lora Jost and Dave Loewenstein, University Press of Kansas, 2006, is an assembly of murals, organized by six geographic areas. Viewing this public art collection through 90 images creates a rich impression of the Kansas experience.

The only Solomon Valley mural actually portrayed is found in the county commission meeting room of the Rooks County Courthouse, Stockton. The eight mural panels present a mystery, for the date of creation and the artist are unknown. It is suggested a prisoner in the jail may have done the work in the 1920s. One of the scenes in these murals is the W. G. Thomas farm (Thomas was a county commissioner at the time these paintings were done), showing the magnificent Thomas Barn (which was destroyed by lightning in 1995) and the Thomas House which Bonita Oliva has purchased and is now restoring.

Appendix B of this volume lists other public mural art in Cawker City, Downs, Glasco, Hoxie, Morland, and Stockton.

Putting A Face on America, The Great American Journey, by Lyn Hanush, Wine Press Publishing, 2007, is a very personal travelogue, documenting a walk of over 4,000 miles from northwest Washington to Key West, Florida. Three women walked and prayed through rural America, a journey of 14 months that opened them to the kindness of people along the way. A small part of their way was along Highway 24, in November 2003. Walkers have time to linger, and the book lingers on their experiences in Downs, Cawker City, and Glasco.


Pike Marker Restored
October, 2007

The Delphos Pike Trail Marker has been restored. Just eleven months after the bicentennial obser- vance at the marker commemorating Zebulon Pike’s Southwest Expedition (1806-1807), significant re- pair work returned the monument to near original condition. The September 2006 occasion reawakened interest in the historic marker and stimulated community action to repair it.


Pike historian Leo E. Oliva spoke at the re- dedication of the monument in 2006, and he presented an illustrated talk at Delfest on August 11, 2007, “Celebrating the Pike Expedition and the Delphos Pike Monument.” A good-sized audience, several coming from Salina, attended. Their interest overcame the 100-degree day. Generous donations and proceeds from Pike book sales were contributed to ongoing care of the Delphos Pike Trail Marker and site.


The SV24 Alliance initiated the Pike observance at the marker and supported the restoration project.


Archeologists to dig into Nicodemus Past
June, 2007 

Annual training program June 2 - 17 open to public, early registration due May 4, 2007.

NICODEMUS held promise for hundreds of African Americans in the 19th century. Archeologists hope to gain valuable information about the everyday lives and extraordinary struggles of these settlers in Graham County during a two-week Kansas Archeology Training Program Field School, June 2-17. The Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) and the Kansas Anthropological Association (KAA) present the annual field school. Other partners are Nicodemus National Historic Site, Midwest Archeological Center, Nicodemus Historical Society, and Washburn University. Visitors are invited to participate in all or part of the activities.

In 1877 a group of five African American men from Kentucky, headed by Reverend W. H. Smith, enlisted the help of W. R. Hill, a white land promoter, in northwest Kansas. Together they claimed a 160-acre town site along the Solomon River. They began recruiting in churches around Lexington and Georgetown in north-central Kentucky and by fall the first group of 350 people left for Kansas–what they hoped would be the “promised land.” Boom times ended, droughts and the Great Depression ensued, and by the 1950s, most of the families had left the community. Designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1976, Nicodemus became a National Historic Site in 1996.

The Training Program Field School will examine the dugout ruins from the settlement time.

Denise Low Named next Poet Laureate
June, 2007

Denise Low has been named the second Poet Laureate of Kansas. Her two-year term begins July 1, 2007. She is a faculty member and dean at Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence.

The Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance is well acquainted with Denise and her passion to connect poetry with the land. She was on our first Literature and Landscape panel in Osborne (January 2005). She participated in the all-day symposium in Downs (October 2005), and was with us in Hill City (October 2006), reflecting on her latest book, Words of a Prairie Alchemist: The Art of Prairie Literature.

She generously serves as one of the judges for our Call for Voices writings. Part of her mission as Poet Laureate is to reach out in the state. Denise plans to continue the Poetry Shoptalk series, visiting with poets, with video teleconferencing accessed at 25 sites in the state. This is a project sponsored by the Kansas Arts Commission. We send our congratulations to Denise.

Jonathan Holden Brings Poetry to the Valley
March, 2007

Kansas Poet Laureate Jonathan Holden brought poetry to the Solomon Valley for the annual meeting of the SV24 Alliance in Beloit on January 20, 2007. Holden, assisted by Greg German, conducted a poetry work- shop in the late afternoon. Everyone participating discovered the poet within, thanks to Holden’s gentle urging and thoughtful guidelines. He was also the featured speaker after the dinner, business meeting, and presentation of awards to the writing-contest winners, sharing some of his poetry about Kansas. Although the blowing snow was a hindrance, many members and guests ventured out to enjoy this time with Jonathan Holden. Learn More at


Highway 24 History Project
March, 2007


Research is well underway on the history of Highway 24 through the Solomon Valley. Humanities Consultant Joyce Suellentrop spent two weeks this fall (2006) meeting with volunteer researchers at Hoxie, Osborne, Downs, and Glasco, first outlining the scope of the project, then beginning to gather discovered maps, drawings, news articles, and photos that reveal the twists and turns that created the highway connecting our Alliance communities.


The politics of road placement, the impact of changing modes of transportation, the hopes and vision of community fathers, all are revealed in this historic project, underwritten by a Kansas Humanities Council Research Grant and the Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance. Suellentrop is integrating materials submitted up to this point, and pinpointing gaps—hoping to direct research to fill the gaps. She will schedule individual work sessions with volunteers during February or March. The research will be compiled and edited for publication by our SVA editor. Anyone who has time and enjoys a quest is encouraged to contact Joyce at,  so you can be included in this research.


Photographs of roads are also being solicited. Let it be known if you have one. Photos will be returned.


Work Ahead to Tell the Story of Highway 24

August 23, 2006


An alert is being issued by the Solomon Valley-Highway 24-Heritage Alliance.  The Alliance is looking for people interested in community history and the development of roads in and through their communities.


With a supporting grant from the Kansas Humanities Council, the Alliance is coordinating research on the history of Highway 24 in the Solomon Valley from 1900 to the present.  This is a story waiting to be told, from trail to highway.  Who were the visionaries and workers now hidden in news accounts and old records?


Four libraries in Solomon Valley communities will host workshops conducted by humanities consultant Joyce Suellentrop.  These sessions for volunteer researchers will address using local newspapers, documents and records for information.  The project is designed to have as thorough coverage of Highway 24 in the Solomon Valley as possible by encouraging volunteers to attend the workshops offered near their town.


The first workshop schedule is:


  • Monday, September 25, Sheridan County Library, 2:00-4:00 PM; Phone: 785-675-3102

  • Tuesday, September 26, Osborne Public Library, 2:00-4:00 PM, Phone: 785-346-5486

  • Wednesday, Sept. 27, Downs Carnegie Library, 6:00-8:00 PM, Phone: 785-454-3821

  • Thursday, Sept. 28, Glasco City Library, 2:00-4:00 PM, Phone: 785-568-2313


Contact:  Joan Nothern,

Phone:  785-568-0120 or 785-568-2350


Follow-up support workshops are planned for November and February.  In order to accommodate planning, volunteers are encouraged to notify the library site of their intention to participate.


The Solomon Valley-Highway 24-Heritage Alliance was created with the commitment to research, preserve, and promote the heritage of the Solomon Valley.  The Alliance has dedicated much energy to the stories of each of the 24 member communities.  Now it is challenged to look specifically at the history of the highway that connects the towns.  Publication of the findings is planned for 2007.


October 8, 2006 -- Pike Bicentennial: The Pike Expedition in Kansas and the Solomon Valley, Waconda Heritage Village, Waconda Lake

The SV24 Alliance will sponsor a Pike bicentennial program at the Waconda Heritage Village, Glen Elder Lake, on Sunday, October 8, 2:00 p.m. Speakers will be Richard Gould from the Pawnee Village Museum in Republic County and Leo E. Oliva, member of the Pike Bicentennial Commission.

They will look at the history and significance of Pike’s Southwest Expedition, 1806-1807, including Pike in Kansas and on the Solomon River. Pike’s party crossed the Solomon west of present Glasco on September 23, 1806, on the way to the Pawnee Village located on the Republican River near present Guide Rock, Nebraska. From that village the expedition headed south, following the trail of a large expedition of Spanish troops that had visited the Pawnees a few weeks ahead of Pike, and camped at the Solomon where the Spanish troops had also camped, in the vicinity of present Lake Waconda, on October 9. This program is free and everyone is welcome.


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October 2013

Nicodemus Natl. Historic Site Wraps Up Summer

by Superintendent Angela Wetz

     On June 14, I flew to Washington DC and met with former Senator Bob Dole who recalled his work getting the enabling legislation for Nicodemus National Historic Site passed. In our conversation, Senator Dole’s recollections ranged from his growing up in Russell, his work leading up to the enabling legislation for Nicodemus National Historic Site, his personal interest in the history of Nicodemus, and his other contributions to Kansas and National Park Service legislation. He graciously allowed me to video record our conversation which can be viewed on our website at   This has been a very exciting project and I am grateful to have been granted the interview.


October 2013

Diversity Posters

We call them “The Diversity Posters.” This series of several posters was created with the National Park Service and the Nicodemus community for display in May, 2012, as Nicodemus highlighted the diversity of the Solomon Valley. The series features settlement stories in our Solomon Valley counties– revealing the rich variety of peoples settling here. The posters have been displayed in Osborne, Stockton, and Alton. They will be in Glasco during September and October. This is a handsome display, suitable for libraries, museums, and banks. Please contact a board member if you would like to have them come to your town.


March, 2013
Bonita Oliva Wins $5,000 for Rooks County Nonprofits: Nova Theatre and 4-H Council
Bonita Oliva, Woodston, was selected as a winner in America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. Farmers who use Monsanto products are eligible, and one farm in each county is selected for the award.  Grow Communities offers farmers the opportunity to win a $2,500 donation for their favorite local nonprofit organizations. To further support counties that have been declared disaster areas by the USDA due to drought, winning farmers in these counties were able to double the donation for a total of $5,000 to help support the community. Rooks County was declared a disaster area by USDA, giving Bonita the opportunity to select two $2,500 donations. She selected the Nova Theatre in Stockton and Rooks County 4-H. In 1,271 eligible counties in 39 states, farmers have the opportunity to win a donation. Monsanto sponsors Grow Communities to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society and to help them positively assist their communities. This program is part of the Monsanto Fund’s overall effort to support rural America. Bonita was present at the Nova Theatre on February 18 when checks were presented by Matthew Stevenson from Monsanto to Steve Riffel and Janice Miller of the Nova Theatre and to Ali Miller, 4-H Council President, along with Rooks County Extension Officer Rachael Boyle and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Anna Muir.Bonita and Leo Oliva farm north of Woodston and are founding members of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance.


August 2012

Kansas' 150 Year Observance
Marked with Peace Pole

The SV24 Alliance traces the settlement of the Solomon Valley to the post-Civil War search for peace, and in this spirit the Alliance elected to place a Peace Pole in the valley to mark Kansas’ 150-year observance. Glen Elder accepted this honor, with the peace monument being placed in the Town Square there.


This process has renewed acquaintance with Clarence Pickett, whose family came to Glen Elder when he was a child. Pickett went on to a remarkable career of public service. He was the Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee for 22 years, providing strategic leadership for AFSC’s work. The 1947 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to AFSC.


The eight languages selected for the four-sided Peace Pole are Czech, English, French, German, Kaw, Norwegian, Pawnee, and Spanish. Each says “Let peace prevail on Earth.


The dedication program took place July 21, during Glen Elder Fun Day, in the Town Square.


August 2011

Locating Veterans’ Memorials and Monuments

The Kansas Commission on Veterans’ Affairs sent a request to Chambers of Commerce in Kansas, seeking information of the location of veterans’ memorials in Kansas.The entire length of the US 24 corridor in the Solomon Valley is part of the highway designated as the World War II Veterans’ Memorial Highway. In response to the spirit of this designation, SV24 is supporting the Kansas Commission on Veterans’ Affairs in this effort. If our members are aware of such memorials in their communities, please follow up or contact a SV24 board member.The letter of request reads: “The Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs is conducting a survey of veteran and military memorials in the State of Kansas. From the survey, we plan on establishing a registry and developing a directory of all veteran and military memorials in Kansas. Our goal in developing the directory is to bring veterans and community awareness to these memorials and special events held in honor of the brave men and women who served our great nation.”The memorials, monuments, and special events dates will be posted to the commission's website


August 2011 

US 24 Museum Update

The SV24 Alliance and the Glasco Community Foundation have an agreement to work together to establish a National Highway 24 Museum. GCF is striving to restore three buildings in the Glasco Downtown Historic District for the museum site. The buildings, 102, 104, and 106 East Main Street, are a Partnership Historic Site with the Kansas State Historical Society. With tax-credit supported donations, GCF has been able to stabilize 102 and 104 E. Main.Meanwhile, research continues on the highway history. The Midland Trail, one of the original transcontinental roads, followed the Red Line-Solomon Valley Highway route through Kansas. This historic route is attracting fans of historic trails who travel 2-lane roads. This is part of the history to be preserved in the proposed museum.


April 2011
New Bill Introduced to Designate Pike National Historic Trail

The last issue carried an announcement of the proposed legislation to conduct a feasibility study to designate the 1806-1807 route of Zebulon M. Pike’s exploring expedition to the Southwest as a national historic trail. The bill that was introduced in the U.S. Senate expired with the end of the last Congress, and new legislation has been introduced in the Senate.Senate Bill 276, “Pike National Historic Trail Study Act of 2011, has been introduced and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.The Pike National Historicl Trail Association is asking Kansans to contact Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran to request that they cosponsor this legislation (a large portion of Pike’s route is included in present Kansas, and Pike crossed the Solomon River twice on his expedition)Everyone who supports this legislation is urged to call the Kansas Senators’ offices and ask to speak to the person who handles National Park legislation: Senator Roberts: 202-224-4774; Senator Moran: 202-224-6521. Items to mention include preservation of our history and historic sites and tourism that will benefit the economy of communities along the route.


Robert Morris  Peck Scheduled to Reappear
at the SV 24 Annual Meeting

Robert Morris Peck was a private in Company K, First U.S. Cavalry, 1856-1861, and served in Colonel Edwin V. Sumner’s campaign against the Cheyenne Indians that year. He was a participant in the Battle of Solomon Fork, July 29, 1857. Peck kept detailed diaries of his life in the frontier army, and his memoirs were published in the National Tribune in 1901. Peck helped restored order in Kansas Territory. He was also among the troops that established Fort Larned in 1859 and Fort Wise (later Lyon) in 1860. He was a trooper in Major John Sedgwick’s campaign against the Kiowa Indians in 1860. Leo Oliva portrays Peck, telling his stories as recorded in Peck’s memoirs in first-person reenactments. Peck will present a short program at the SV24 annual meeting, telling his story of the Cheyenne Expedition and Battle of Solomon Fork.


August, 2010

Cottonwood Ranch Opens

Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site along Highway 24 near Studley, has re-opened. The historic site was closed by the Kansas State Historical Society, September 5, 2009. The KSHS gave the Friends of Cottonwood Ranch permission to have a person at the site beginning May 20, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until September 30, 2010. The site will be manned on those days from 9:00 a.m. until noon and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Guided tours of the house and building will be provided during those hours. A contribution for the guided tours is recommended; $1 for students and senior citizens, and $2 for others. The site may be visited from dawn to dusk seven days a week, but only self-guided tours are available the other four days.


August, 2010

A Boost for Traveling in Kansas

The April 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest had a special report on the nation’s highways. It ranked the best roads, from 1 to 50, of the 50 states, factoring safety, congestion, and the condition of roads and bridges. At the top of the list, #1, stands Kansas!


August, 2010

Cawker City Featured

The June/July 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest featured “‘100 Things We Love About America,’ an annual celebration of the people, places, and ideas that make us great.” There, on page 115, is a list of the three “Best Roadside Attractions,” with the second choice, “The 12-foot high ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas.” These well-thumbed, well-read magazines can’t help but nudge some casual readers to take another look at Kansas and Hwy 24 as they plan a road trip.


May, 2010

Initial Road History Now Available

The Story of U.S. 24 and the Solomon Valley: The Automobile, the Men, the Politics, and the Highway is now being distributed to the museums, libraries, and high schools in the Solomon Valley. This is the final step of a project developed with the Kansas Humanities Council. We are indebted to all the researchers who combed local newspapers for this story, to Joyce Sullentrop, for compiling it, and to Leo Oliva for publishing it. Even as this volume comes off the press, we want to invite additional information. It is a substantial beginning—but there is more to discover and knit into the road story.


September, 2009
Nicodemus Historical Society

Angela Bates, executive director of the Nicodemus Historical Society, now produces the Society’s newsletter online. Please consider joining the Society. Contact Angela at or visit the web site www.nicodemushistoricalsociety.comnwhere you can download the membership application. Nicodemus is one of the real gems on Highway 24 along the South Solomon River. It is also a National Historic Site, administered by the National Park Service, one of only five National Parks in Kansas. The NPS web site is

The annual Christmas tree decoration program was held in the Visitors’ Center on December 5, as these photos show.


July, 2009


by Joan Nothern

THE concept of a National US Highway 24 Museum has received respectful consideration from several entities.

The Kansas State Historical Society granted Historical Partnership Site designation to three buildings on Glasco’s Main Street: 102, 104, and 106 East Main. Work has started on the 102 E Main building, stabilizing the stone back wall and roofing it. Donations for this work were granted 50% Kansas tax credits.


 The Kansas Humanities Council sees sharing the history of US 24 as Glasco’s contributing local exhibit for the Journey Stories Smithsonian exhibit at Glasco, August 14 through September 27, 2009. The local companion exhibit explores nearly 100 years  of history of Highway 24–from mud to two-lane hard surfaces, from Red Line to stream lined. This local exhibit will be shared with museums in the Solomon Valley in the future. It builds on the history of the road research project conducted collaboratively through the Alliance.

The SV24 Alliance and the Glasco Community Foundation have entered into an agreement to develop the US 24 Museum together. It is anticipated this will become a center of research on the impact of transportation on the development of Kansas.


April, 2009

The proposed US Highway 24 Museum is a dream the Heritage Alliance is working to see a reality. We have faith the compelling story of the transitions in transportation, the “who” behind the road, the “where” of the road, will be a historical drama commanding respect.


Two opportunities are outgrowths of this museum focus. One, the Partnership Historic Site designation for three fragile historic buildings in Glasco’s Downtown Historic District (National Register of Historic Sites 2002), and their preservation for appropriate reuse: honoring the Main Street of the US on the Main Street of Glasco. Glasco Community Foundation has been granted 2008-2009 tax credits for contributions to this Partnership Historic site project. Please contact Joan Nothern for more information.


The second opportunity begins the storytelling process. Journey stories are the underlying themes of the proposed US Highway 24 Museum. Being selected as a site for the Journey Stories, Museum on Main Street Smithsonian Exhibit sets the stage for our long term goal.


April, 2009

Take to the Road

Two spring weekends in the Solomon Valley feature unique annual events.  April 24-25:  Kansas Storytelling Festival in Downs. Events are scheduled all day Friday and Saturday. They appeal to all ages and interests. Make a special effort to take this in. Admission is charged. May 2-3: Sheep Dog Trials at Cottonwood Ranch at Studley, from 8 am to 5 pm. Spinning and weaving demonstrations complete the cycle from critter to creature comfort. No admission charged.


October, 2008
The proposed US Highway 24 Museum is a dream the Heritage Alliance is working to see a reality. We have faith the compelling story of the transitions in transportation, the “who” behind the road, the “where” of the road, will be a historical drama commanding respect.


Two opportunities are outgrowths of this museum focus. One, the Partnership Historic Site designation for three fragile historic buildings in Glasco’s Downtown Historic District (National Register of Historic Sites 2002), and their preservation for appropriate reuse: honoring the Main Street of the US on the Main Street of Glasco. Glasco Community Foundation has been granted 2008-2009 tax credits for contributions to this Partnership Historic site project. Please contact Joan Nothern for more information.


The second opportunity begins the storytelling process. Journey stories are the underlying themes of the proposed US Highway 24 Museum. Being selected as a site for the Journey Stories, Museum on Main Street Smithsonian Exhibit sets the stage for our long term goal.


Nicodemus 130th Emancipation Celebration
June, 2008

The 130th annual Nicodemus emancipation celebration or homecoming is scheduled for July 24-27, 2008. There will be food, special programs, entertainment, and church services on Sunday.


Sheridan County Museum Has New Exhibit
June, 2008
With a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council, Mickey’s Museum in Hoxie, recently opened a new exhibit, “Pioneer Settlements: Legends of the Prairie.” It features information about 19 communities, featuring maps, photos, and narrative. Be sure to visit the museum when in the area.


8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture
June, 2008

Two of the finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture are part of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance. The Osborne County Court- house in Osborne and St. Joseph’s Church in Damar are among the 24 finalists.


Solomon Valley’s own Von Rothenberger brought the initial idea to the Kansas Sampler Foundation for the 7 Wonders of Kansas, but by the end of the discussion it was decided to feature the eight elements of rural culture as promoted by the Foundation. In 2007, the public voted on the original 8 Wonders of Kansas. The winners were announced by Governor Sebelius on Kansas Day. Now each of the eight elements, as featured in the SV24 Alliance kiosks, will be showcased in its own contest. The one underway at this time is Architecture. Voting will end June 15, and the winners will be announced June 30, 2008. The project is designed to educate the public about the state and to encourage travel.


Annual Meeting at Hill City
March, 2008

THE SV24 annual meeting at Hill City on January 19, 2008, was a memorable evening with good food, recognition of the winning entries of the Third Call for Voices, a brief business meeting and election of officers and board members for 2008 (see names on page 2), and an entertaining and informative program by Erika Nelson on roadside vernacular architecture.

The authors of the winning entries in the 2007 Call for Voices writing contest were honored, with awards presented to the top three submissions in each category. The first-place authors read their entries.

The 92 entries in five categories were judged by a panel of five eminent Kansas authors (Denise Low, Mary O’Connell, Bob Day, Jim Hoy, and Fred Whitehead). The following writers received awards, and their writings will be published during the coming year in the Solomon Valley Anthology, beginning with this issue. writers who entered the contest.

View Winners List & Read Entries


New signs for Cottonwood Ranch along I-70

March, 2008


NEW billboard signs along I-70 will soon direct travelers to Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site located along U.S. 24 in the South Solomon Valley near Studley. The funds for the billboards came from the Pratt Family Charitable Trust and were channeled through the Morland Community Foundation, Inc.


The design for the signs was selected by Teresa Jenkins and others with the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka. The composition includes a colored picture of the house at Cottonwood Ranch, a black and white photo of John Fenton Pratt (the ranch's original owner and developer), white on black directions, the Kansas Historical Society logo on a light yellow background, and the current theme of the state agency; “Real People, Real Stories.” These new billboards are scheduled to be installed within the next two months.


As your friends and relatives travel I-70 (because we know that Real People with Real Stories travel U.S. 24) they will see a billboard of  24’ X 8’ west of WaKeeney for westbound traffic and the other, larger billboard measuring 36’ X 12’ near Oakley for eastbound traffic. Hopefully these two billboards will convince some people to leave the “super-slab” and casually travel the scenic Solomon Valley.


Artists Making the Valley Known
June, 2007

Active artists are at work in the Solomon Valley. Perhaps they see and know the subtle beauties of the valley in a way only concentrated attention makes possible. As we strive to increase awareness of the gifts found here, we discover the artists among us, engaged in the same effort.

The SV24 Alliance will try to identify artists’ studios and galleries in the valley. We hope they may become destinations as you explore along Highway 24. When the artists are there, they are glad to have their work seen and purchased. Hours tend to fluctuate, allowing time for painting.

In Cawker City, stop at the Limestone Studio, 821 Wisconsin Avenue, to see Cher Olson, and in Downs visit Prairie Wind Art, 810 N Morgan Avenue, to see Gary Ozias. KSHS and KATP in the Valley. Click the following link to join:


Reporting on the Road Research
June, 2007


Nearly 400 hours of digging–not with shovels in the soil, but through newspapers and records–have been reported by those researching the history of Highway 24 through the Solomon Valley. Kansas was definitely “on the way” as travelers sought direct routes and sure footing, often right here.


Kansas Humanities Consultant Joyce Suellentrop has braided the tales of the road together, using the information provided by the researchers working from Glasco to Hoxie. The next step is to complete documentation, fill in gaps, and prepare the manu- script for publication.

This has been an enormous undertaking, but the story is remarkable, justifying the quest to find it, to tell it. We will keep you posted on progress.


Art, Quilt and Craft Show Successful
June, 2007

A successful addition to the Morland Lions Club Memorial Weekend activities was an exhibit by local artists, quilters and crafters. Painting with water- colors, tatting, quilting, wheat weaving, and jewelry designing were presented. Local students exhibited art and ceramic school projects. Other popular exhibits included a vintage apron collection, oriental rugs, memory wall hanging, and woodcarving. An- tique friendship quilts were popular exhibits and created numerous opportunities for reminiscing.

Organizers considered the show a great success with plans already underway for a show again next year.


Traveling on Sunflower Journeys
March, 2007


The Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance was honored to be the leadoff segment of the Sunflower Journey’s twentieth year of broadcasts on public television, a production of KTWU at Wash- burn University in Topeka.

Producer Jim Kelly traveled from Glasco to Downs with Joan Nothern and Leo Oliva, sampling the atmosphere and offerings to be found in the valley. With the band suite Solomon Valley Anthology in the background, Dave Kendall provided nice interpretive voice over, emphasizing that the Heritage Alliance has had impact on the residents of the Solomon Valley, confirming their efforts to make their home a better place and one worth fighting for.

Leo and Joan shared interviews, providing historical background and pointing out several preservation efforts. The program aired February first and third. It will be available in the future


WeKan! Conference Builds Capacity of Communities
March, 2007

The Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance enjoys a fruitful collaboration with the Kansas Sampler Foundation. This nonprofit organization, headed by Marci Penner, developed the concept of the 8 rural cultural elements. Marci worked with us to help our 24  SV Alliance communities view their towns through these elements.  The 8 rural cultural elements are prominent on our community kiosks.

March 20 and 21, the Kansas Sampler Foundation is hosting a WeKan! Conference in Salina. This conference will highlight how the 8 rural cultural elements are dynamic concepts, providing ever evolving ways to attract Explorer Tourism.

The SV24 Alliance is sponsoring a session on the cultural element “Geography,” at which we will discuss innovative ways to know your own space before you promote it to others. The Alliance will be sharing some of its experience and resources, as Von Rothenberger, Roger Hrabe, and Joan Nothern participate in the discussion sessions.

The Alliance will also contribute a basket of items reflecting the valley, for a silent auction supporting the Sampler Foundation.

SV24 encourages communities to attend this conference, empowering rural leaders to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture. The Alliance will provide a limited number of incentive stipends to help communities that have never participated in a WeKan! Conference defray expenses to attend this one. Please contact Joan Nothern or a board member in your area for further information.

Sunflower Journeys to feature SV24 Alliance
January, 2007

The popular television series about Kansas, Sunflower Journeys, produced by KTWU public television at Washburn University in Topeka, will feature a segment on the SV24 Alliance in its new season, opening in late January 2007. Producer Jim Kelly recently taped material for the program. Unfortunately, his schedule only permitted him to spend time in communities from Glasco to Downs. It will be interesting to see this program. He may return another time for another segment on the western portions of the Alliance.

"First Call" Writing Contest Winners Recognized
January, 2006


The winning entries in the First Call for Voices writing contest were honored at the annual meeting at Simpson, January 21, with awards presented to the top three writers in each category. The first place authors read their writings.


The 45 entries in four categories were judged by a panel of five eminent Kansas authors (Denise Low, Bob Day, Tom Averill, Jim Hoy, and Fred Whitehead). The following writers received awards, and their writings will be published during the coming year in the Solomon Valley Anthology, beginning with this issue.

Youth Poetry:
First - Hannah Renken, Downs

Second - Jerry Davis, Downs
Third - Connor Shoemaker, Glen Elder

Adult Poetry
First - Jo Ann Cool Albhn, Glasco

Second - Dorothy Sprenkel, Hill City
Third - Susan Inskeep, Cawker City

Adult Essay
First - Janice McIntosh, Manhattan

Second - Avalon Melton, Stockton
Third - Gail McComb, Stockton
Adult Fiction
First - Jo Ann Cool Albhn, Glasco

Several entries received honorable mention


Kiosks Along the Valley Dedicated
October 2004

Over three days on two October weekends, moving from both west and east, over 300 persons attended the 24 dedications of kiosks along Highway 24 in the Solomon Valley.
The kiosks are now in place for all explorers to sample the 8 rural cultural elements as presented by each community.
A one-day visitor to Kansas, John Townsend of Perth, Australia, chose to share in the dedication caravan and thoroughly enjoyed the revelation of community heritage and culture as he traveled from Portis to Stockton with the dedication team.  He plans to return with his family.  These on the spot storybook kiosks wait all Kansas travelers.


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Nicodemus Celebrated
       February 25, 2006

Fran Mainella, dnector of the National Park Service in Washington DC, visited Nicodemus National Historic Site on Saturday, February 25, to bring attention to this important Solomon Valley community during Black History Month and to join in the celebration of Ora Switzer's 103rd birthday. She was accompanied by Ernest Quintana, regional NPS director in Omaha, and members of his staff. Director Mainella was pleased to learn about the Solomon Valley Hwy 24 Heritage Alliance and encouraged our efforts to promote heritage tourism. It was a grand day for Nicodemus.

Continental Harmony

March 2003

Composer Greg Sanders was commissioned by the Solomon Valley-Highway 24-Heritage Alliance to create a composition about the Solomon Valley.  After visiting the valley in May and August, 2002, the work premiered in March, 2003.
View Website
 Continental Harmony
This band piece is a suite in four movements entitled "Dreams and Faith: The Solomon Valley Anthology" -- Movements are:
1. Enchanted Sky
2. Freedom a long time coming
3. Distant Hymns; and
4. Plows on the Prairie.


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Stories Of Land Of Man Of Nature