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Wilson, Kansas Czech Capital of Kansas

European American settlers began moving into the region soon after Kansas became a territory. In the 1860’s the Homestead Act was formed to increase westward expansion by offering tracts of free land in return for settlement. In the 1870’s, railroads reached the area and large numbers of immigrants from Europe began to arrive.  Large numbers of immigrants from Czechoslovakia in the 1870's came to work on the railroad and gave the area a unique culture. Francis Swehla was the first Bohemian homesteader in 1874 and was instrumental in bringing more Czech settlers here which eventually lead to the Charter naming Wilson the "Czech Capital of Kansas" in 1974.  

Just 6 miles south of beautiful Lake Wilson, Wilson not only offers camping supplies and dinner when the fish aren’t biting, but also offers unique amenities not found in other small towns.

  Boasting a lodge, a bed and breakfast, and a turn-of-the-century hotel, Wilson is pleased to share its Czech heritage. Wilson’s restaurants offer a variety of menu selections for the most discriminating palette.  Bowling, skating and a full service liquor store are also available.

 Unique stone buildings include the round post rock jail and the Midland Hotel where “Paper Moon” was filmed in 1973.  The renovated hotel now includes a restaurant and lounge.

  Shoppers will find prize winning meats, sausages and ethnic foods sold in the stores that boast second and third generations of expertise as well as assortments of arts and crafts, antiques, sculptures, ceramics, batik and kraslice eggs.

Wilson celebrates its heritage with the annual After Harvest - Czech Festival the last weekend of July.  The Czech Festival is celebrated with a parade, arts and crafts, cultural displays, ethnic foods, and dances appealing to all ages.   For more information on the the event please visit http://www.wilsonks.com/index.htm or http://www.wilsonkansas.com/.

 

 

Russell County, Kansas

 

Russell and Russell county was founded in 1871 as families migrated to Fossil Station, a water stop on the Union Pacific Railroad.

   History buffs will want to check out the four museums in the county. Learn about the discovery of oil at the Oil Patch Museum, or find out more about Russell County through displays from the 1860’s to current times at the Fossil Station Museum. See the photo collection of Leslie W. Halbe and learn more about early day Dorrance. The Bunker Hill Museum, housed in an early day church, contains many artifacts of historic life in Bunker Hill. While in Bunker Hill stop and see the first county jail

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   Travel north to Luray and visit the first log cabin in the County, located in the park.  Luray is also home to a challenging, hilly, nine hole golf course.

   Perhaps your tastes are more artistic?  Visit the Deines Cultural Art Center in Russell or the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas.  Stone constructions of interest include the Gernon House in Russell and the limestone water tower in Paradise.

   Perhaps one of the best examples of grassroots art is the Garden of Eden in Lucas.  S.P. Dinsmoor, a retired schoolteacher, Civil War veteran, farmer, and Populist politician began his artistic creations and construction of the Cabin Home in 1907at the age of 64.  The yard holds over 150 concrete statues that depict Political and Biblical stories.  Mr. Dinsmoor’s body is buried in the backyard, in his 40’ high stone mausoleum for all to view.

   The Post Rock Scenic Byway, one of the prettiest drives in the state, runs the 16-mile stretch along highway 232 from I-70 to K-18 near Lucas.  Driving along the byway you can see for miles from the top of the Smoky Hills and experience the natural beauty of the Saline River Valley.  Imagine Native Americans scanning the horizon from horseback or immigrants in coveredwagons traversing the area for the first time to be greeted by a sea of rolling prairie.

   There are more than twenty restaurants, six motels and five bed & breakfasts. For more specific information call the Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Come explore Russell County!