Saturday, May 21, 2016


Despite the overcast and strong wind, we decided that we had to ride the bike in Kansas sometime.  We opted for the short ride to Oakley to visit the Fick Fossil and History Museum.  The museum is very small, taking up the left half of this building while the library occupies the other half with an atrium between.

Open space for traveling exhibits.  This one was Kansas A to Z.  

As with the Pioneer Museum in Colby, this museum houses a private collection.

Mrs. Fick's artwork:  fossil paintings

sharks tooth flag

paper mache colored with melted crayons 

She also taught herself to carve.

These looked just like bits of rock to me.

This is the dandiest fossil,

with these fish a close second.

Duane liked the oldest most complete mosasaur skull best.

click to enlarge and read the info

In the other half of the museum were exhibits chronicling the growth of the town including one of the bricks described below.

We took a riding tour of the town.  Oakley is a typical Western town with wide streets, low buildings, and not much going on downtown.

They do have a dandy green space.  This is Annie Oakley Park.  (Only the park is named for Annie.  The town is named for the town founder's mother.) On the left is the swimming pool.  The blue things are tube slides.  Beyond that is green space with a sidewalk and benches.

This is the only church we saw.  It was the biggest building in town if you don't count the cluster of grain silos.

On the way home we visited here, and learned about William Cody.

He was well-respected.

 He was a skilled marksman.

He won many honors.

The inside of the culture center consists of a large open room with large conference and meeting rooms (the center is often used for conferences) on the side and a small gift shop. Several area residents contributed artwork and artifacts to the center.

The lady on duty offered to take our photo for us.  She was very helpful telling us about things to see in the area.
Bison are buffalo.  The first Europeans called them boeuf (pronounced boof which I think is French for beef) and that morfed into buffalo.

This painting depicts the end-of-track town of Sheridan.

This artist liked to incorporate local things into his paintings.  If you look closely at the first gray line of clouds you can see a large fossil fish from the Fick Museum.  Also the little humps of clouds above it resemble a buffalo herd.

Outside is the twice-lifesized sculpture of Buffalo Bill killing buffalo to feed the railroad builders.

Duane in line for the kill shop

His view

Shot then trampled.  An awful fate.

A word about end-of-track towns.  Every railroad had one that traveled with the train.  While the train was being built, the town, consisting not only of workers but also all the people ready and willing to take their hard-earned pay, set up where the track ended.  Next day it packed up and took the train to wherever the track ended for that day.  The town of Sheridan was one of the biggest because the rr ran out of government land grant and the town sat for two years before they figured out that their rr line was dead when the new railroad reached Kit Carson, Colorado 80 miles to the west.  Sheridan conducted a lot of business.  All supplies to the forts of the Southwest were freighted by wagon trains from this point.  As many as a thousand bull trains camped nearby waiting to load their wagons.  It was also known for its lawlessness. 31 men were hanged from the railroad trestle, all without benefit of trial.  (If you click on the painting above and enlarge the rr trestle, you will see one of those hapless fellows.)  One hundred graves in the graveyard and not one of the inhabitants died a natural death.  Sheridan was unique for the number of scoundrels and malfeassants it sheltered during its 15 month existance in 1868-69.  An average of over four violent deaths per month occurred during that period.   No other western town equaled the uniqueness of Sheridan.  None other had the population, transacted as much business, or abounded with such violence for a short period of time, then disappeared off the face of the earth. (Information from a paper supplied by the Center, reprinted from  Kansas Historical Quarterly, Vol.36, l966. "When the Union and Kansas Pacific Built Through Kansas", Joseph W. Snell and Robert W. Richmond)

One more day of touring here.

Louise and Duane

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