Our trip this morning began with a stop in McPherson for breakfast.
When we arrived, there was only 1 booth left and most of the barstools were full. A hopping place which is a good sign that this is a good place to eat!
The owner (in the pink) came to talk with us. She is a HUGE Chiefs fan and has season tickets. She knows the coach personally. "He knows me as the lady with the lucky lingerie." Hmm. Must be an interesting story behind that one!
After a very filling breakfast (which was so much it was also our lunch), we headed further west on Highway 56.
Our destination was Ellinwood. Back in the late 1800's, German/Austrian immigrants settled here. They were lured there by lies about Kansas; that the winters were mild and that it never got above 80 degrees in the summer. (HA!) And how pure our air was. Also they were offered 187 acres of land. Can you imagine leaving the beauty of Germany for prairies with no trees and such HOT summers?
Ellinwood was along the Santa Fe Trail. Unlike the Chisholm Trail which was for people headed west, the Santa Fe Trail was for commerical use. Similar to our modern day trucking routes. A man could purchase a wagon load of supplies for $1,000 in Missouri, haul it to Santa Fe, New Mexico and sell it for $50,000! He would then load up lumber and haul it to Kansas where there was not much lumber to build homes and businesses.
Built in 1887, this is the Dick building. The main floor originally housed a bank and a hardware store. Today it is an antique store. (take note of the manholes in front of the store)
Behind the building, there are stairs to the underground world of Ellinwood. The walkway to the underground businesses lies directly beneath the main street sidewalks. The German's were used to basements back in the old country. Extensive passageways and tunnels were made to connect the shops underground. Underground malls!!
At the peak of its growth, Ellinwood had 11 saloons. Being on the Sante Fe Trail, where around 1000 stages came through a day, it was the place to stop! The town decided to put most of the male related businesses underground. While the men who traveled the Santa Fe Trail and worked the rail roads were busy underground, townsfolk could visit shops, businesses and offices on Main Street in a respectable manner. A harness shop
Even a water pump in the basement.
The owner of this building left everything "as is", just like it was in the old days.
The strings on the horses is to keep flies off the horses.
These are the coal bins that are directly under the sidewalks. They would simply lift up the wooden side-walk above the ground and drop in the coal to heat up the shops.
Remember the man holes? They let in light in the coal bins. This is the walk way to the different shops. It seemed so narrow and they think it was because the men who visited the saloons might need the walls to hold on to.
This is the barbershop, next to the harness shop.
The barber's red, white and blue pole was outside of the building on ground level. Many people could not read in the old days so the red, white and blue (representing blood, bandages and veins) let people know what kind of shop there was.
Blood, bandaids and veins?? Well, the barber also was a man who might remove teeth and also tonsils! Instrument to remove tonsils.
The red case is for cigars. The white jar for leeches to "bleed" the ill.
The barber's chair. The wheelchair was for anyone who might have passed out.
This was a wild place. There are several bullets in the walls.
In the adjoining room to the barbershop was a place for the men to have their laundry done. The men who worked the trails might only have a couple of outfits and without deoderant and with dusty trails, well, they needed washing. Above is the ringer-washer.
The men would have baths. Hot baths were 15 cents for hot, clean water. 5 cents if you wanted to use used water.
There was also entertainment for the men with the ladies.
In the days of the prohibition, the tunnels took a colorful turn with a number of activities that operated more comfortably out of sight of state officials.
In the 1980's unfortunately, most of the underground tunnels were filled in due to modernization, but this small portion was preserved and is very much worth going to see! We were told that many towns, including ours also had underground tunnels at one time.