In just two days the middle school and elementary classes from Clay-Platte Children’s House visited the Tall grass Prairie National Park in Chase County, Kansas, saw a big stone home and barn, went through the Kansas Exploratorium in Wichita, flew a Wright Brothers flight simulator, rode across the prairie in a covered wagon, ate dinner cooked over an open fire, slept under the stars beside a lake, chased a peacock, toured the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, saw an SR71 Blackbird spy plane, rode a recently restored train, saw a unique American flag and river, and ate a big dinner in Junction City on the way home.
The Spring Trip left school at 7:45 Thursday morning, and drove to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase county Kansas. This is a relatively new preserve, having been created in 1996. The preserve was created on a ranch first started in 1880 by Stephen Jones. Jones was well established in life when he started the Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranche, having run successful ranch operations in Texas and Colorado. The 1885 census reported that his ranch had 30 miles of 5 foot tall stone fences. He first built a limestone mansion at a cost of $25,000, and a short time later a three story limestone barn was completed at a cost of $15,000. Jones donated 2 acres of land north of his house to be used for the Lower Fox Creek Stone, also built of limestone. Jones sold the property in 1888 to his partner, and moved his family to Kansas City, ostensibly for his daughter’s higher education.