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

Messages from Our President
Along the Solomon Valley

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Sheridan County
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Rooks County
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Mitchell County
Cawker City
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Cloud County



December, 2013


Dear Friends Along This Way,

Here we are again, in that moment looking both back and ahead, with efforts to recognize and plans to share.

We must all acknowledge the significant achievement celebrated with a ribbon cutting on November 16 in Morland. After years of dedicated work, the Morland Mercantile had its grand opening on a bright November Saturday. Well-wishers from across the state, including Governor Sam Brownback who wielded the scissors, recognized this landmark event, opening a new grocery store in Morland. Plans for a community kitchen where local residents can make products to sell in the store, make this creative venture still a work in progress. The Morland Community Foundation oversaw the renovation and creation of the Morland Mercantile.

I learned of a different kind of achievement from the radio. In fact, I stopped my car on a country road to listen to NPR's “All Things Considered” tell a story about Hoxie. Our Hoxie’s story was being told nationwide. There, farmers have agreed to pump 20% less water for the next five years, making a calculated sacrifice in order to help preserve the Ogallala Aquifer–and the future of agriculture as we know it in Northwest Kansas.

Angela Bates at Nicodemus, one of the founding members of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance, community historian, and author of books about this unique town, has opened The Nicodemus Livery and Mercantile Gift Shop and Ernestine’s BBQ on Highway 24. We wish her well in this endeavor.

As an alliance, we are aware of sustained efforts, looking toward the long-term benefit for rural Kansas, such as these in Morland, Hoxie, and Nicodemus, and we applaud their work!

Carldon Broadbent presented his collection of original editions of the work of Margaret Hill McCarter to Steve Richardson. This body of Kansas literature will be placed in the Historical Library in Cawker City, a preservation undertaking by Steve that is nearing completion.

The Voices shared in this issue again reflect youths’ power and pride in place. The adults open our hearts to other journeys, sacred journeys.

On January 18, 2014, we will host the annual SV-24-HA membership meeting in Osborne. I believe it will be of interest to everyone! We will have information about the Centennial of the Midland Trail, an alliance project that has already inspired Kansas artist David DeArmond to travel the complete Kansas link of the Transcontinental Midland Trail. He painted each designated town and has created a beautiful book of these paintings and the route through Kansas.

We have invited Kansas Humanities Speaker Edgar Tidwell to be with us. His topic “Creativity as Art and Labor” will complement the years of writing we have encouraged with our “Call for Voices.”

In closing, I pause to convey the loss of Sharon Treaster. She was a founding member of SV-24-HA, representing Mitchell County until the time of her death, November 13, 2013. Our sympathy is extended to her family and many friends.

Please plan on being with us at the annual meeting. We will continue the gentle process of growing together.

 –Joan Nothern


October, 2013

DEAR Friends Along This Way,

     In this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology you will find the fourth part of Ron Parks' article "Nepaholla Dreams." In the course of a year, Mr. Parks has acted as our guide, traveling first west from Manhattan to Waconda, then east to the Big Red Rock. His article is a perfect example of enlightened exploring-attending first to the actual physical world encountered, and then to the stories that enrich the traveler's experience of place. We are indebted to him for being our guide, for sharing this fine series with us.

On July 21, I attended the 3rd Annual Wakonda Indian Festival, held at Glen Elder State Park /Waconda Lake. This was a moving experience, returning to the lakeside where Waconda Spring now lies under water-but where contemporary Indian artists and storytellers gathered to share their culture. I hope Solomon Valley Explorers will try to attend the 4th Annual Wakonda Indian Festival next July.

     The SV24 Alliance Board, as advocates for exploring the Solomon Valley, has pledged to lead the way. We hope to be able to share stories of these experiences in future Explorer Columns in the Solomon Valley Anthology. Your stories are welcome! We have a vibrant present to celebrate.

     Do you remember the Youth Essays printed in the last two issues of the Anthology? In the Spring edition, Garrett McClair of Beloit took us on a "Road Trip" along Highway 24, and in the Summer edition, Sheila Elmore of Downs told "Why I Love My Home." They are great ambassadors for this place. Let's try to follow their example and share our stories with brief Explorer reports!

     Remember to travel east and west on 24.

 –Joan Nothern


June, 2013

DEAR Friends Along This Way,

Sometimes we discover we have been befriended. . . . that others actively appreciate the places and efforts we as the Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance strive to support. I want to tell you about three such connections.

David DeArmond is a painter from Merriam, Kansas, who has painted in every county in Kansas at least four times. He has shared his gentle water colors of the Solomon Valley, and has allowed us to create postcards from some of them. DeArmond’s paintings reflect a kindly eye appreciating his discoveries as he travels.

Ann Miner, Director of Education and Programming at the Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby, has initiated a discussion with the museums in the Solomon Valley, opening the way for collaborations that might increase visitation and development of common themes. The first meeting was held May 16 at the Rooks County Historical Museum in Stockton, with representation from four communities beginning this conversation.

Suzanne Waring, whose essay “Closing the Farm House” appeared in the Spring 2013 SVA, stopped in Glasco on March 27 to meet the first-grade students at Glasco Grade School. They had enjoyed her book, In Search of a Special Place, page by page, and discussed it with her in person.

David, Ann, and Suzanne are thoughtful, caring people. They are explorers, connecting with us. The SV24 Board of Directors has considered encouraging organized explorations of the valley. As a first step the Board members committed to getting out and about themselves, being visible advocates for getting to know each other better.

The 9th Call for Voices is formally raised at this time. The written insights of past participants were gifts to all of us. We look forward to the new responses to “Call for Voices” from the Solomon Valley.

 Remember to travel east and west on 24!

 –Joan Nothern


March, 2013

At the annual meeting, January 26 in Osborne, we were thrilled to hear three of the winning authors from Call for Voices 2012 read their work! We offer a special thanks to Sharon Arnold, Glasco, Don Downing, Prairie Village, and Keith Schlaegel, Stockton, for allowing us to really hear their voices.

You will be able to read their prize-winning works and those of the other honored 2012 participants in the Solomon Valley Anthology during the year. In this issue, you’ll find the youth essay “Road Trip” by Garrett McBlair which recreates the rhythm of a family car trip. He takes time to appreciate, to wonder, to discover. He has the perfect attitude for finding excitement in plain things.

In the last issue of Solomon Valley Anthology we asked for a show of interest in a video workshop. There was not enough to warrant our going ahead providing one. But perhaps there are concerns that we should take to heart. The Kansas Preservation Alliance has placed Kansas rural downtowns on the KPA’s 2012 Most Endangered List. Might this not be a signal to alert photographers to document the downtowns of our Solomon Valley communities?

Spring calls. It is time to renew friendships in the Solomon Valley. Travel east and west on 24. There is much to see and do as you explore.

 –Joan Nothern


December, 2012

Opportunities continue to beckon as we look ahead, making plans to promote the heritage of the Solomon Valley and to celebrate current developments in our communities. You are encouraged to renew your membership and to invite others to join us, adding strength to our efforts.

Please plan to attend the 13th Annual Membership Meeting, Saturday, January 26, at Osborne. Highlights will be recognizing the winners of our 8th Call for Voices, Denise Low telling about the Indian history found in ledger art, and the posters on the Diversity of the Solomon Valley created with the National Park Service for display in Nicodemus last May. I’ll need to have your reservation by January 21, 2013.

I would also like to direct your attention to the video workshop survey described in this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology. Your response is important, as we determine what we can do together to make a difference for you and for the Solomon Valley.

The year 2013 offers special challenges. The Midland Trail, one of the original transcontinental highways, is approaching its 100th anniversary. Can we help make this a national event? American Indian stories precede the post-Civil War settlement of the Solomon Valley, and they promise insight into the planet’s future. Can we find a way to weave these stories into a program to study together? There are wonderful cultural resources and community histories located in the museums in the Solomon Valley. Can we help tailor tours that will take visitors to these fine resources?

There are other paths, other options. You will help make the choices which to follow as we work together in 2013. Let's begin in Osborne in January!

 –Joan Nothern


September, 2012

It is a privilege to bring you more of the 2011 Call for Voices. They reveal so much about this place and living here. You'll find awe and delight, courage, fantasy, humor, and moving insights. We look forward to the Eighth Call for Voices submissions, due November 1.

In addition to publication in this newsletter, all the winning entries from the first Call for Voices in 2005 through 2011 are available on our website, <>. Enjoy!

The county theme this time turns to unique or nontraditional agriculture-based enterprises. Surely this is a topic we will revisit. We invite member contributions or leads as we share valley explorations.

Working together to enrich and promote the heritage of the Solomon Valley is a cooperative adventure. You can read about the Peace Pole now in place in Glen Elder–a project that reflects our ability to honor the past and invest in the future.

As this long, hot summer ends and we move into autumn, we hope you will encourage others to join us. Your advocacy is the best way for us to grow.

 –Joan Nothern


June, 2012


Dear Friends Along This Way,

 The Solomon Valley was honored during the month of May at the Visitors’ Center at Nicodemus, with a display representing the diversity in our settlement stories. Mark Weaver, Superintendent of Nicodemus National Historic Site, did a fantastic job putting our stories and pictures together, creating an excellent series of posters for this feature display. Leo Oliva provided an interpretive pictorial overview of the valley, accompanied by the “Solomon Valley Anthology,” a band suite composed by Greg Sanders, to complement the posters.

As a heritage alliance, we recognize efforts to promote awareness of our heritage. Colby assumed responsibility for signage for the World War II Veterans Memorial Highway at the junction of highways 24 and 83, the western end of this 200-plus-mile designated memorial highway. The signage was unveiled May 17, with a program at Frahm Theatre on the Colby Community College Campus. Secretary of Transportation Mike King participated in the event.

Mitchell County Tourism presented Talking Tombstones over Memorial weekend, researching and introducing new historical characters to entertain people returning home for the weekend. The pleasure of discovery, of historical recovery, motivated these gifted tombstone talkers. They are heritage caretakers.

Now to look ahead! On July 21 the Peace Pole the SV24 Alliance proposed as a Kansas Sesquicentennial project, will be dedicated in Glen Elder. This is our gift that reflects both the diversity of settlers who sought peace here and the veterans who sacrificed for peace. Please read more about the Peace Pole in this newsletter. I encourage you to contribute to this project, to make a gesture with us to “Let Peace Prevail on Earth.” And I invite you to the Glen Elder Peace Pole dedication on July 21, 7:15 p.m.!

 –Joan Nothern


March, 2012


Dear Friends Along This Way,

 At the annual membership meeting, January 28, 2012, in Osborne, we recognized the 2011 authors who placed in the Seventh Call for Voices. It was our privilege to have several first-place winners with us as guests and to hear them read their winning entries. We listened to voices of honesty and beauty, fantasy and reality, as Madelaine Colarossi, Rachel Johnson, Keith Schlaegel, and Nila Rea Denton presented their work. In this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology you may read some of the Voices of 2011; more will follow in each issue during this year.

Eileen Wilson has represented Osborne County on our Board of Directors for many years. Her knowledge and love of history added much to our efforts. Eileen has retired from the board. We are grateful for her years of unflagging support! We also thank Jennifer Spresser for her years of service on the board, representing Sheridan County and the town of Hoxie..

Looking ahead, we have been invited to present an overview of Solomon Valley communities at the Visitors' Center at Nicodemus. This will be featured during May 2012. We will draw on the settlement histories prepared for the SVA for this display. The changing exhibits at Nicodemus will add extra reason to include visits there. Please make it a habit to do so.

Would you like to share in placing a Peace Pole in the Solomon Valley? A Peace Pole is a hand-crafted monument that displays the message May Peace Prevail on Earth on each of its four sides, in four or eight languages. Exploration is underway to find an appropriate host site. We are mindful of the role of Clarence Pickett in securing the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for the Friends Service Committee. If you would like to make a special monetary contribution toward this project, please contact me or a board member.

I hope the county-theme articles on Trails suggest to you that there are trips to be taken in the Solomon Valley. Spring is almost here. It is time to take to the road.

Joan Nothern


October, 2011


Dear Friends Along This Way,

This year is the Kansas Sesquicentennial, celebrating 150 years of statehood. Our Alliance communities and counties had not even been imagined 150 years ago–yet we found reason and means to lift up those 150 years in the Solomon Valley. We shared the Kansas Humanities Council’s vision of many activities throughout the state.


With KHC support, the SV24 Alliance sponsored a program on Kansas artists by Ron Michaels, curator of the Sandzen Gallery, in January at Osborne. We initiated community conversations about the Kansas poetry of William Stafford in March in Downs and Hill City. And most recently, we sponsored the Stories to Song residency in Damar. We truly took the moment to listen to art, poetry, history, and story in the Solomon Valley. We are richer for this.


Plans are underway for the annual meeting, January 28, 2012, in Osborne. We will recognize the winners of the 2011 Call for Voices and hear the first-place entry in each division of the contest. Mitchell County Historical Society will provide a sampling of “Talking Tombstones,” a research and performance approach nurtured by Alliance workshops. Please plan to join us in Osborne as we review and then renew our commitment for another year working together. Reservation details are included in this newsletter.


Your membership is vital. It is confirmation that what the alliance attempts to do is meaningful. I hope you renew–perhaps give a gift of membership– and introduce the SV24 Alliance to your friends!


Our work together has forged a connection to place and past. It promises to make a difference in the future.


 –Joan Nothern

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August, 2011


Dear Friends Along This Way,

This is a journey we take together: both preserving and promoting the heritage of the Solomon Valley. At the August board meeting we reflected on the changes we’ve witnessed since our beginning a dozen years ago. We noted the impact of the Friends of the Cottonwood Ranch, the National Park Service at Nicodemus, and the Historic Site at Antelope Lake enriching the resources to the west. We have seen loss of community grocery stores and schools, and the threatened loss of post offices. But there are new movie theaters in Hill City, Stockton, and Beloit. The Solomon Valley is changing around us, and we are part of that process.


The Alliance strives to highlight the heritage and resources of the Solomon Valley, recognizing their potential to attract travelers. And the travelers do come–on foot, on bikes, by car and fifth-wheel. What a remarkable group of people these visitors are. There is an exchange of experience as we engage the travelers in conversation, discovering their reasons for being here. Many are responding to challenges, from dispelling negative images of Kansas, to following personal quests, and fulfilling altruistic commitments. These visitors don’t live life by default, but rather are actively engaged in living life as they chose. Our guests are an inspiration.


Traveling a two-lane highway across Kansas does attract adventurers. A young cyclist, traveling alone, coast to coast from May 23 to July 18, wanted to experience the U. S. beyond consumerism–and he found this through the loneliness and solitude of his journey. He found community in action in Osborne and Glasco. He found beauty and connection to nature pedaling Highway 24.


A retired couple spends six months of the year in a different state–indulging their own greatest loves: learning and spending time together. This year they are in Kansas–personally disproving a discounted Kansas. They marvel at our history, geology, beauty and people! They claim Kansas makes it easy to find beauty in everything they see and do.


I abandoned the highway one July afternoon to float for an hour on the Solomon River. It was a remarkable hour of green trees and blue sky and quiet. And it was good.


No matter your mode of travel, do decide to visit your neighbors in the Solomon Valley.


–Joan Nothern

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June, 2011


Dear Friends Along This Way,

I pause first to acknowledge the loss of two generous women who helped build the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance with their gifts of time and energy. Both were founding members of the Alliance, and both served terms on the board. Erma Cikanek, 1933-2011, of Beloit, designed and updated the annual flyer listing the historical sites and events in each of our towns. She also suggested our mission statement, “Stories Of Land Of Man Of Nature." Mildred Morgan, 1922-2011, of Osborne, rarely missed an alliance board meeting, helping guide us through our first decade. We extend sympathy to their families, who will miss Erma and Mildred so much.


The theme addressed in this issue by each of our six counties is “A House with a History.” These stories provide a window to both place and people– perhaps confirming that “It takes a heap of living to make a house a home.”


The Depot and Arts Council in Downs and the Graham County Public Library in Hill City proved excellent hosts for introducing the KANSAS POEMS OF WILLIAM STAFFORD in March. The community conversations drew attendance from eight towns along the entire length of the valley corridor! During the last week in April, National Poetry Week, Stafford’s poems were read aloud in the Solomon Valley. You’ll find the book KANSAS POEMS OF WILLIAM STAFFORD in your library– allowing this acquaintance to continue.


Faye Minium and Roger Hrabe have contributed articles that address current actions and concerns. Faye shares the process of preserving a building in Morland for a business venture. Roger helps us look at the possibilities offered by new media.

Please note our 7th Call for Voices writing contest in this issue. The Alliance considers this project one of our most important missions.


We are midway through Kansas 150th year celebration. This is a good time to recommit to the purpose of the SV24 Alliance, to preserve and promote the heritage of the Solomon Valley as we uncover the history of the valley in our storied Free State.


It is also time to put this foundation of knowledge to work, building on our capacity to attract tourists. This is a challenge we are ready to accept!


 –Joan Nothern

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April, 2011


Dear Friends Along This Way,

As an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of the Solomon Valley, it is more than fitting that we dedicate the themed county selections to the libraries in the valley, for they reveal the collective will to collect and share histories.


Please note the article about the community events to be held in Downs and Hill City. The Kansas Poetry of William Stafford will be explored by Denise Low and Fred Whitehead. This is a unique project enriching the literary landscape of Kansas as a sesquicentennial celebration made possible by the SV24 Alliance and Kansas Humanities Council.


Our organization is indebted to Larry Griffis, director of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, for the articles on Sandzén, and to Ron Michael, curator of that gallery, for the fine program he presented on Four Visual Artists from the Sunflower State at the Annual Meeting in January. Both of these men have brought the work of Sandzén to us. I hope we will make a real effort to go to Lindsborg to experience the power of Sandzén's work presented in the gallery there.


Leo Oliva’s portrayal of Private Robert Morris Peck, U. S. Cavalry, 1856-1861, is very moving! We caught a glimpse of Peck at the annual meeting. I hope many of you are able to catch up with him as Leo continues these portrayals. He is scheduled to appear in Morland on March 20.


In this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology you will find the first of the 2010 Call for Voices winning entries. They speak for themselves. Listen!


–Joan Nothern

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December, 2010

Dear Friends Along This Way,

When we united to discover and promote the heritage of the Solomon Valley I only imagined looking back at our histories. Granted, we have done that, but it is the projects that we have made possible that enrich and add to our heritage that we should take pride in too.


The Sixth Call for Voices drew over 60 entries, evenly divided between youth and adults. We thank all for participating and look forward to the author/reader selections for honors this year.


Stockton and Cawker City proved exciting host sites for Aaron Fowler’s artist residency, sponsored by the Kansas Arts Council and the SV24. Fowler and students collaborated in the Stories to Songs Project. Six new songs celebrate community heroes in the Solomon Valley.


Looking ahead, Downs and Hill City will host unique heritage events in March, as our alliance coordinates reflections on the Kansas poetry of William Stafford and how it speaks to the future. Do plan to take part in this Kansas 150th project.


Osborne will host our annual membership meeting, January 22, 2011. All members and friends are encouraged to attend.

Now is time to renew your SV24 membership. I look forward to continuing our journey together-You might invite a friend to join us!


–Joan Nothern

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October, 2010


DEAR Friends Along This Way,

Summer’s passed, with fairs, rodeos, and festivals bringing visitors to the Solomon Valley. Working together, each community renewed spirit and deepened friendships. Welcoming visitors renews our own appreciation for home!

We have enjoyed a long relationship with the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Their 8 Rural Cultural Elements are the template for the community histories on each of our 24 kiosks. Now these 8 elements are explored by rural Kansas towns on the new web site  Many of our alliance towns are already represented there. Check out this new guide to rural Kansas–and see how rich and wonderful it is.

The SV24 Alliance will represent authors Bob Day and Leo Oliva at the Sunflower Book Festival, October 9, in Osborne. Writers from Kansas and/or about Kansas will be there. This is an outstanding opportunity to speak with Kansas authors.


Look for the notice in this newsletter about the Authors’ Workshop to be held October 30 at the Cottonwood Ranch. It is vision come true.

Please note November 1 is the due date for the 6th Call for Voices. Your memories and imagination may find just the ear and venue through this contest that will add to our valley heritage. Find information on our web site:


I’ll close, wishing you moments in the fall to pursue something new…


Maybe we'll meet…


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance

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July, 2010 


DEAR Friends Along This Way,


How we benefit from the support of others as we strive to keep the heritage of the Solomon Valley vital and visible. I will try to acknowledge some of this support through this message to you.

First, I want to acknowledge the work of North West Kansas Tourism Council and Roger Hrabe in representing our area at the Sampler Festival in May. You will find a summary note by Roger in this issue.

Then, let me introduce others who are working with us. Dr. William S. Worley, a historian and professor at Metropolitan Community Colleges, Blue Rapids, has signed an agreement to serve as resident Humanities Scholar and Historian for the U. S. Highway 24 Museum project. His background and interests make this a valuable contribution.

Dr. Fred Whitehead, Kansas author and five times reader of our Call for Voices, has inspired us to deepen appreciation for poet William Stafford, working with schools, libraries, and communities in the Solomon Valley to have public readings of his Kansas poems.

Larry Griffis, director of the Birger Sandzen Gallery, Lindsborg, has opened the door for working together to strengthen the ties between the Solomon Valley and the Gallery, based on the paintings and life of Birger Sandzen.

Lin Cross, Main Street Gallery and Gifts, Stockton, will help develop a holiday basket of Solomon Valley products.

Finally, read more of the voices from the Fifth Annual Call for Voices, and linger over the Stafford poem and writer's tip, then take seriously our Sixth Call for Voices! We'd like to hear from you!


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance

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January, 2010 


DEAR Friends Along This Way,

At the annual membership meeting in January, the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance acknowledged a decade of working together. It was Leo Oliva’s vision of the valley that kindled our hopes and efforts ten years ago. He accepted the invitation to reflect on the role of our organization at this 10th anniversary. You’ll find his report included in this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology. It provides a privileged opportunity to compare aspirations with performance. Thank you, Leo.


As an alliance of 24 communities, we encourage those confronting change and we pledge our support during the process. Just now, we are working with Nicodemus and the Cottonwood Ranch. In the spirit of mustering resources to meet the needs and interests of visitors, Nicodemus continues its long range interpretive planning with the National Park Service. Also seeking to see a unique history appreciated, the Friends of the Cottonwood Ranch are engaged in developing local events at the ranch.  These efforts truly enrich the Solomon Valley.


Seekers of beauty, examples of courage, dignity, and compassion, flights of fancy. You will find them here. It is an honor to introduce some of the Voices raised in our Fifth Annual Call for Voices. They are rich and provocative. We thank the authors for choosing to share their work with us. And we thank you, the readers, who may be surprised as you listen to these voices.


Carldon Broadbent has stepped forward to coordinate the themes to be featured in the coming issues of the Solomon Valley Anthology, moving from his position on the board. He will put his love of history to work in this new capacity. He will be looking for sleuths in each county to furnish materials.


Please remember to renew memberships and invite others to join us!


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance

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September, 2009

DEAR Friends Along This Way,

Transitions may be the theme you detect as you read this issue of the Solomon Valley Anthology. After a long period of preparation, the Smithsonian Museum on Main Journey Stories exhibit has come to the Solomon Valley and gone. Glasco welcomed over 900 visitors at The Corner Store while the exhibit was there. Over 300 attended the supporting events, and there were nine tour groups. There was a strong sense of pride that a small rural community could meet the expectation of the Kansas Humanities Council.

The local complementary exhibit introduced the History of U.S. Highway 24. Extensive research completed by Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance members with Joyce Sullenthrop’s guidance, provided the basis for the handsome display. It dovetailed well with the Smithsonian Journey Stories, filling the historical niche between the railroads crossing the country and the interstate system. The Highway 24 exhibit won warm praise from visitors.

This newsletter, the Solomon Valley Anthology, is completing a chapter with the current edition. When we began publishing, we proposed each of the 24 communities in the alliance present its own story. Woodston’s history appears in this issue, the last alphabetically in our historical tour.

This raises the question, what next? A committee of Faye Minium from Morland, Linda Clover from Cawker City, and myself, Glasco, will attempt editorial formatting, suggesting organizing themes that our six represented counties will be encouraged to address. We like giving voice to places. This experiment as a themed digest will be a new twist. We welcome volunteers from each county to help make this a success.

A last change to note. It is time to renew membership in the Alliance and to encourage new memberships. To begin in 2010, the alliance board instituted a single membership fee of $25.00 for all classifications: individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and governing bodies. In addition, a single lifetime membership of $250.00 is being offered. The support of SV24 members is essential as we dedicate ourselves to understanding, enriching, and promoting the heritage of the Solomon Valley. I hope you will go the next mile with us.


   Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance

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June, 2009


Dear Friends Along This Way,


Preparing for Journey Stories, the Smithsonian Museum on Main Exhibit to be at Glasco August 14-September 27, 2009, has prompted consideration of “journeys.” As we encourage exploring along Highway 24, a historic two-lane route through the Solomon Valley, the sense of a personal journey of discovery is your reward.


Our work together to share stories of our communities and the history of the road itself alerted us to the wonders of journey stories. From the migration of flowers, hollyhock seeds passed from neighbor to neighbor, dame’s rocket escaping from gardens to the wild, to exotic quests, journey stories are fascinating! A young man has undertaken working a week in every state in the U.S. Lyn Hamush walked across the U.S., praying in and for each community along the way. Erika Nelson seeks unique roadside vernacular architecture. A man is driven to find and correct spelling and grammar errors on signs and billboards.


Journeys inward. Journeys back. Reminiscences and reunions. Precious personal reconstructions. It has been intriguing turning over the nuances of journeying–noticing the impact of travel and insight.


Now it is time to reflect on our journey together. It was through a series of Democratic Vistas programs by Leo Oliva during the summer of 2000 that the communities along Highway 24 realized the potential for partnership based on their common heritage and rich resources. A partnership with purpose: invite visitors to travel along the Highway 24 corridor–a journey with the whole so much more than the sum of its parts!


Through the Kansas Humanities Council sponsored Democratic Vistas discussions, our Solomon Valley communities envisioned the power of collaboration. Since that time, other regional and theme-based alliances have come into being. Many share goals that relate to those of the SV24HA. The Kansas Barn Alliance strives to preserve both the icons of rural Kansas and their histories. The new Rural Partnership Initiative will offer techniques to energize community promotion. Regional tourism councils define each area’s distinct characteristics.


The SV24HA continues to refine its mission, seeking to discover, preserve, and promote our common heritage. We support the museums, artists, authors, and historical societies who share this vision. We will try to work with the other organizations dedicated to rural Kansas' well-being, not duplicating their services, but building together.

Yes, the longest journey starts with the first step. When we began with that first step in 2000 we had no idea what adventures were ahead! I hope you will continue to take this path with us.


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance

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January, 2009 


Dear Friends Along This Way,

We worked hard to bring Solomon Valley artists and authors together in a unique project supported by the Kansas Arts Commission. This was truly an inspiring project. Our authors let us see, peopling the prairie with their memories and experiences, painting it with their keen observations. Artists Gary Ozias, Jackie Campbell, and Virgil Deges honored workshop participants by offering serious, yet delightful, instruction in plain air painting, ceramics, and water colors. Each of the three Saturdays, October 18 and 25 and November 1, left all of us amazed by what had transpired and hoping there would be more events built on the same format. Simpson, Hoxie, and Stockton were excel- lent host sites.

In the meantime, an exhibit of work created during these author/artist happenings will be included in the January 17, 2009 Annual Membership Meeting in Osborne. This will bring the original project to a conclusion.

At the October board meeting, the Alliance renewed its agreement with the Glasco Community Foundation to continue work on the US Highway 24 Museum. Concrete progress is being made, as GCF prepares for the Journey Stories exhibit next summer. The local exhibit component will be based on Highway 24 history through the Solomon Valley. The Kansas Humanities Council selected Glasco as one of six host sites for the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Journey Stories exhibit. This opportunity lets us grow in historical perspective, fulfilling our mission as a heritage alliance.

As a representative of the Alliance, I was invited to a meeting sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation that addressed unifying rural Kansas as a tourism entity. We have been building our organization based on a dual vision: our common history and our unique communities. We stand to learn from this new initiative, and perhaps we will have insights to share based on our several years of working together. This is a process we’ll watch and report back to you.

       The annual membership meeting brings us back to Osborne, where five years ago a panel of authors began our journey, seeking contemporary voices from the Solomon Valley. It will be our privilege to meet and hear the winners of the 4th Annual Call for Voices. Please note the change of time to a noon meeting. We have been challenged by weather and long night drives, and sincerely hope this accommodation will make it easier for all to join us.

Your SV24 board and officers serve for one year terms. We could not attempt all we do without a hardworking board. As the year closes, I wish to acknowledge Faye Minium, who has served as treasurer since our incorporation in November 2000. She is not going to continue as treasurer, but will remain as membership chairman. Eileen Wilson, our vice-president, also is retiring from that position. I thank you both for outstanding contributions to the Heritage Alliance.

 Now, Friends Along This Way, please renew your memberships, invite others to join us, and plan to attend the January 17, 2009, Annual Membership Meeting. We have exciting journeys ahead.


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance


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September, 2008


Dear Friends Along This Way,


This begins our sixth year of this quarterly news letter, the Solomon Valley Anthology, an accumulative record of community histories and collaborative ventures. Our editor has helped us deliver a publication that does justice to our vision. We foresaw a newsletter that presented the history and culture of the 24 member communities, that revealed the common threads of heritage, that encouraged historic preservation and economic development, and that promotes education and tourism. These were ambitious goals, and we have made a serious effort to realize them.


Roger Hrabe navigated the publication process for the new Explore Highway 24 and the Solomon River Valley brochure. It succeeds in combining photos, map, historical background, and a facility reference guide. It is a good visual confirmation of our unity and destination potential.


Making the valley known – knowing the valley – artists do both as they see and respond to the world around. The SV24 Alliance has received a grant from the Kansas Arts Commission to bring active artists together with those who would like to gain more experience in artistic expression. We are coordinating workshops at three sites in the valley, hoping to encourage “en plein air” creations. We are tapping authors who responded to our Call for Voices to be present to read from their work, deepening the experience of seeing the Solomon Valley.


The research supported by the Kansas Humanities Council on the highway through the Solomon Valley provided the groundwork for important new ventures. Glasco, the easternmost community in the Alliance corridor, has three historic buildings on Main Street that have been named a Partnership Historic Site by the Kansas State Historical Society. This new program created by the Kansas legislature made this site eligible for tax credits to help preserve the buildings. Glasco is working to establish a National U. S. Highway 24 Museum in their Downtown Historic District, in partnership with the SV24 Alliance.


The KHC named Glasco one of six sites in Kansas to host the Smithsonian Exhibit Museum on Main Street Journey Stories for six weeks during 2009. This will help us grow in storytelling capacity, as the Red Line to Highway 24 journey is developed. We hope our work with the museums in the Alliance allows us to share these new exhibit resources.


Colby, an associate Alliance member, will host Journey Stories in early 2010. I sincerely hope you will see the value of these capacity-building projects.


Sincerely, Joan Nothern
President, Solomon Valley Heritage Alliance


Stories Of Land Of Man Of Nature