Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cathedral of the Plains

We moved north then west to Russell and the Triple J RV Park.  This is a Good Sam's discount park but we picked it because it is Passport America.  It is very small, only 55 sites but can accomodate rigs up to 80'.  Restrooms, showers, cable tv, and laundry room are available.

Pull-thrus, 50 amp have covered picnic tables.  All have swings.  

Nice playground

The most interesting mini golf ever.

These pet tornadoes were available in the mini gift shop.  It looks like plain water until you swirl it.  This is the closest we ever want to come to a tornado, thank you very much.

After we set up we drove 20 miles west to Victoria to see the Cathedral on the Plains.

Its real name is the Basilica of St. Fidelis.  It was built from 1908-1911.  The exterior is constructed from native limestone, quarried seven miles south of Victoria, without automatic lifts and power tools. The Romanesue structure stands in the form of a cross, facing east.  The towers are on the west end.   

The church is 220' long, 110' wide at the transcepts and 75' at the nave.  Its ceiling is 44' above the ground and the towers rise 141'.  It seats 1100 people.  William Jennings Brian, during his 1912 presidential campaign tour of the nation, visited Victoria in July of 1912.  He was so impressed with the church that he named it the Cathedral of the Plains.  Officially it is on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas.  Pope Francis decreed it to be a Minor Basilica, the 78th basilica in the US and the first in Kansas.  There are 4 circular stained glass windows.

Floor detail in vestibule.

Bedford stone from Indiana forms the doorways and bases and capitals of the pillars.  The 14 granite pillars in the nave came from Vermont.

Each of the capitals is hand carved.  Each has a different design.

Window between the towers.

White marble apse  The back altar and surrounding facade were originally wood-grain but painted in the 1930's according to the style at the time.

Each of the 14 Stations of the Cross is hand carved and painted.  Original cost was $135 each, a princely sum.

Victoria was founded in 1873 by gentlemen farmers from England who arrived with the intention of duplication their aristocratic lives in spite of harsh weather and rough ground.  They named their village in honor of their queen and laid out the streets according to the plan of a London architect.  They were joined in 1876 by a group of poor immigrants from southern Russia who were fleeing from service in the Czar's army and the dangers to their Catholic faith.  They lived in a vilage of sod huts adjacent to Victoria.  The british soon found pioneer life too extreme.  In a few short years most returned home, abandoning the town to their Russian neighbors.

The southernmost street, with the only other tall structures in town. 

These is the only other business section.  I counted about 6 small business, including an insurance company, a funeral parlor, a couple of banks, and a beauty shop.

From in front of the Basilica, looking south.  Notice the gravel road starts at the edge of town.  Most of the town was made up of residences.

Monument to the hard working Russian families.

The family attending the first "church" in the new territory.

We stopped here for one night so that we could visit the Basilica.  We took a driving tour of Russell, home town of Bob Dole and Arlen Specter.  It was a typical "plains" town with wide street, low buildings, quite a few small businesses, a mix of residences and very little traffic. 

We stopped here so that we could visit the Basilica.  Tomorrow we travel further west.

Louise and Duane 

1 comment:

Paul and Marsha Weaver OCT. 17, 2009 said...

A swing at each site. Fun.
We have plans to head to CO when we leave here in September. We will go right through this area. I hope to see the Basilica of St. Fidelis. It looks awesome.