Exploring Kansas

A few notes from my recent travels- stay tuned for my upcoming book signings and thanks again to everyone for your support!

Welcome back. I discovered some magic this week while traveling through southeastern Kansas in the middle Caney River Valley and since I am already planning a return trip in December, I thought I would start this week with a little history of the area. At 863 feet above sea level and sitting almost exactly in between New York and Los Angeles, Chautauqua County played an important role in the development of the west. The largest town in the county is Sedan which has a population of 1,174 and is the county seat. During a tour of the county museum History House I learned that Sedan was founded in 1871 and was named after the city of Sedan, France, supposedly because of the similarities in the rocky terrain of the two towns.

Sedan, France is a medieval era town in the northeast of the country, originally established in 1494. Today it is known for its enormous castle which covers 7 acres and encompasses 30,000 square feet on several levels. Each May Sedan holds a medieval festival celebrating the history of the town, much in the same way we have many celebrations of our western heritage here.

The History House in Sedan, Kansas is a very interesting place to visit and well worth the short drive from Bartlesville. There are exhibits about the founding and growth of the town, including the conflict that made Sedan the county seat as well as a large collection of genealogical information. Next weekend the Historical Society will put on their annual Heritage Quest at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds in Sedan. Heritage Quest features demonstrations of pioneer skills and crafts, concessions, live music and a general store selling home baked cookies. Sounds like a great time for the whole family!

This past weekend I was also fortunate enough to catch a little of the Dalton Defender Days celebration in Coffeyville, Kansas. If you like top of the line fair food, this was the place to be! The streets were lined with great food trucks and other concessions. They also had non-stop live music, a big car show and an exciting re-enactment of the Dalton gang’s raid. With all the fun I had, I thought a little history of the town was due so here you go.

Coffeyville takes its name from James A. Coffey who established the town in 1869 as an Indian trading post. The town grew with the construction of a railhead and then the discovery of both natural gas and clay. From 1910 to the 1930s Coffeyville was one of the largest centers for glass and brick manufacturing in the country. Today it remains a lively community with much to offer both residents and visitors like me.

While I was exploring this part of the world I found out about another intriguing place to visit. Devil’s Canyon is a hidden place in Chautauqua County that is so deep that the trees growing at the bottom look miniature. It is difficult to scale the walls of the canyon to get down there but when you reach the bottom it becomes smooth and there is a large cave at one end. In the early days of statehood Devil’s Canyon was a favorite hideout for cattle and horse thieves due to the remoteness of the canyon and the natural springs which provide a year around source of water. Through the years, many visitors have carved their names into a large rock at the mouth of the canyon. If you are in shape for a hike this is a great destination and you can get directions from the Chautauqua County Historical Society.


Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……