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Old 12-13-2016, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
16 posts, read 21,312 times
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Has anyone read the suburb book, "PrairyErth"? It is a highly detailed look at Strong County, covering its history, land, people, culture, and much more. It's a fascinating, yet challenging read. It is a wonderful and positive look at Kansas from the perspective of one county--though while not representative of the whole state, of course--in a literary and ultimately poetic manner.
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Old 12-13-2016, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Wooster, Ohio
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It has been a number of years since I read it. I will have to dig it out of one of about a dozen boxes full of books and reread it.
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:16 PM
 
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Haven't read it, but fairly sure there is not a Strong County in Kansas. There is Strong City in Chase County. I have heard the book is very good though.
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
16 posts, read 21,312 times
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Yes, I mistakenly wrote "Strong County" when I meant "Chase County". Oops! Also, I mistakenly described the book as "suburb" when I mean to say "superb" LOL. Anyway, I think the book is from 1991, so it's from quite a while back, but perhaps Chase County has not changed much since back then.
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Old 12-13-2016, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 13,803,009 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennessee Jed View Post
Yes, I mistakenly wrote "Strong County" when I meant "Chase County". Oops! Also, I mistakenly described the book as "suburb" when I mean to say "superb" LOL. Anyway, I think the book is from 1991, so it's from quite a while back, but perhaps Chase County has not changed much since back then.
Both my parents grew up in Chase County, so I have spent a fair bit of time there. My aunt, uncle, grandmother, and first cousins still live there, just west of Strong. My grandmother's somewhat sour comment on the book was that Heat-Moon didn't say much about the quad in which she and my grandfather were living. That said, I naturally loved it. Since it was written, a fair bit has changed (relative to the usual pace of change there, which is not rapid). Some good historical preservation work has been done in the towns, and the prairie preserve and Z-bar have turned out to be draws. There's some artsiness and there are restaurants, enough to get people to leave some money in the County. At heart, though, it remains cowboy country, and it still has a fair bit of absentee property ownership, and it still kind of struggles to make ends meet. It's never been easy there, and the survivors are a rugged people.

For more about the area, I suggest some of Jim Hoy's books (just checked Amazon, generally available). Hoy is a somewhat rare combo: an intellectual English professor who is of the country and moves about it without arousing any edginess. They know him. His descriptions of ranch rodeo are spot on, and he understands the people as only a native can.

Flint Hills is one of those places that rewards taking a little time, getting off US 50 and away from the Turnpike, letting people size you up and get comfortable. Might not be that different from parts of Tennessee in that way. Heat-Moon did it very, very well, especially for a Missouri intellectual (not a dig at him, simply that he did have a couple of fences to cross in some cases).
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Old 12-14-2016, 07:58 AM
 
2,211 posts, read 2,911,944 times
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Wonderful, expansive, exhaustive book about a lamentably unique place. Jim Hoy's books, as noted above, are also great for a reader who loves the Flint Hills. Better than any book though, is spending some time there. I've never been so profoundly moved by a landscape as that one, never returned to one as often or with the same unfailing sense of wonder, and never been so saddened by the thought of how much like it has been lost.
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Old 12-14-2016, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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j_k_k & SPonteKC, your posts are very moving and eloquent. I've only been to the Flint Hills in my imagination, but a drive there from Tennessee is in my future. And thanks for the recommendation of Jim Hoy's books!
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Old 12-14-2016, 01:19 PM
Status: "Enforce immigration law and save our country!" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Kansas
22,950 posts, read 19,222,157 times
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Really, Strong City? Been through it a few times. Chase County is more known for Cottonwood Falls. I also suggest traveling north to Council Grove and the Corp of Engineer Park there. We are currently in Lyon County with Chase just west of us.
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Old 12-14-2016, 01:57 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 13,803,009 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennessee Jed View Post
j_k_k & SPonteKC, your posts are very moving and eloquent. I've only been to the Flint Hills in my imagination, but a drive there from Tennessee is in my future. And thanks for the recommendation of Jim Hoy's books!
AnywhereElse is not wrong. Council Grove is a very nice place. You definitely want steaks at the Hays House. One thing you will soon find is that Kansas has excellent beef. I live in Oregon now and most of the beef here doesn't compare. I'd say that Oregon beef is kind of like Kansas seafood: you can get it, but you don't really want it.

It's also true that Cottonwood is a little larger than Strong, and probably a little nicer, especially since my cousins are no longer running a beer joint in Strong. Your Tennessee southern manners will win you the day, because much of the rural Flint Hills have a slight drawl and the ability to say "sir" and "ma'am" at suitable times. I'd walk right up into the courthouse, and when the ladies ask how they can help you, ask if there is anyone who has time right now to show you the old jail. It's in the back with strap-iron cells. Doesn't look like a comfy place to sleep off a drunk. While you're in that neck of Cottonwood, swing by the Roniger Museum, which is a little crowded but that's all right.

If you happen to be through when they are doing ranch rodeo, definitely don't miss that. It's a lot more interesting to watch rodeo when it's real outfits doing their real world work and where they can receive a "no time" if they are unnecessarily rough with the stock. There are excellent displays of professional horsemanship.

I also like Emporia, just for its quiet college town vibe. Has some historic buildings. Bunch of my cousins live down around Olpe, south of there.

For football lore, as you learned in PrairyErth, Knute Rockne's plane went down near Bazaar. If you wanted to visit the memorial, which is in a guy's pasture (I forget the name but the family are nice folks who are cooperative with courteous visitors), I'd ask at the courthouse and see if they wouldn't mind phoning ahead for permission for you.

By the way, if you get toward Wichita, don't fall over in shock if someone does something nice for you when they find out you're from Tennessee. Back around 1990, a short thick twister dozed over the eastern part of town, including Andover. One of my cousins rode it out in a Pizza Hut basement; another rode it out while the twister was trashing his home. A lot of very nice people came from neighboring states to be helpful, which was very kind of them, but it made the news when a bunch of guys from Tennessee showed up. Said they just couldn't look at that without going to help. Some folks, like myself, will remember that.
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Old 12-14-2016, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
16 posts, read 21,312 times
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What a marvelous post about things to see and do in and around Chase County! And such nice things to say about Tennesseans. I guess they meant what they said when they nicknamed our state "The Volunteer State"! That being said, I look forward to my future visits to the great state of Kansas!
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