Midwest Wanderer Newsletter – September 1, 2022

More often than not, we travel the back roads on our road trips. It beats dealing with heavy traffic on interstate highways, saves on gas mileage since we drive slower, and we see more of real America, passing through small towns.

A Month of Wild Bill Hickok

Passing through the small town of Troy Grove, Illinois, in July, we saw a sign for the Wild Bill Hickok birthplace. Neither of us knew that Hickok was originally from Illinois. Although tempted to stop, we were pulling our travel trailer and weren’t sure where the road would lead. Maybe a dead-end road that would be nearly impossible to turn around on? So, we made a mental note of the town and kept going.

Then in early August we attended a Travel Kansas event, hosted by the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau. The welcome party was held at Old Abilene Town, an attraction that recreates 1871 Wild West Kansas, where Wild Bill Hickok spent time as marshal.

A couple of weeks later we camped at Starved Rock State Park, just fifteen minutes or so from Troy Grove. Having just learned a lot about Wild Bill Hickok in Kansas, we made it a point to visit his birth site. On the same trip we took a canal boat tour on the I&M Canal in LaSalle, Illinois. On that ride, we learned that Wild Bill Hickok worked on a canal boat as a teenager.   

Wild Bill Hickok birthplace
Wild Bill Hickok birthplace in Troy Grove, Illinois

Featured Article:
10 Fascinating Facts About Wild Bill Hickok

With the coincidence of three Hickok-related attractions in a short time, it’s no surprise that in this issue, we include an article that focuses on the legendary Wild West lawman, published in slideshow format.

One fact that we didn’t include is that Hickok often paid for the funerals of the men he killed. View ten more Wild Bill Hickok facts here.

Featured Article:
Old Abilene Town Recalls Wild West Days

Wild Bill Hickok was marshal of Abilene, Kansas, a short time, but he made a big impact on the first of the Old West cow towns. Being the end of the Chisholm trail, cowboys were ready for a good time when they finally reached Abilene. Drinking, gambling, brothels, and gunfights were common, and they needed someone with Hickok’s reputation to keep trouble to a minimum.

Today, Old Abilene Town recreates 1871 Abilene with a boardwalk lined with buildings simulating the Old Alamo Saloon and a general store, among others. Historic buildings on the ground include an original homestead cabin and the area’s first schoolhouse.

Learn more about Old Abilene Town in our latest podcast, Old Abilene Town Recalls Wild West Days. If you’d rather read about it, we include the content in an article, too.

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never seen before

— Dalai Lama

Featured Article:
3 Museums for Wizard of Oz Fans

Fast forward less than seventy years, from Old West 1871 to 1939, when the movie, The Wizard of Oz, premiered. Today, the movie classic is just as popular as it was when it was first released.

Since we were heading to Kansas for the aforementioned media event, we made it a point to stop at the Oz Museum in Wamego. Having previously visited Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz in Liberal, Kansas, as well as the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids Minnesota, we created a video and article, 3 Museums for Wizard of Oz Fans.

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Oldies but Goodies

Even though these articles were written some time ago, they continue in our list of most read.

12 Fun Facts You May Not Know about the Midwest

Bowers Harbor In, Traverse City: The Restaurant and a Ghost

League Stadium: Where ‘A League of Their Own’ was Filmed

3 Great Places in Illinois for Eagle Watching

More to Giant Crosses than Visible from the Interstate

Have You Seen This?

Giant spur in Abilene, Kansas
The giant spur stands outside of Rittel’s Western Wear in Abilene, Kansas.

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