Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wonders of Kansas not a short list

June 21, 2007

I'm ahead of my time.

Recently, the Kansas Sampler Foundation selected 24 candidates for the eight wonders of Kansas. It is inviting state residents to review the list and pick the state's eight wonders.

If you're counting, that is one more than the granddaddy of such lists, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which included such things as the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Temple of Artemis at Epheus, the statue of Zeus at Olympia and a couple of other impressive things one would expect from a list compiled by some long-dead Greek. Maybe there is an eighth Kansas wonder in case one of seven is unable -- for whatever reason -- to complete its reign because it topples to the ground like so many of the ancient wonders.

Although I got more than one email promoting the Kansas wonders, I didn't get around to nominating anything.

I regret that, because for years I teased my brother that the White Cliffs of St. Clere were one of the Seven Wonders of Kansas. The awe-inspiring cliffs can be seen near the town of St. Clere north of St. Marys as the Little Noxie Creek crosses under Kansas Highway 63. There, to the east of the road, the white limestone cliffs climb to dazzling heights from the Flint Hills creek. To my knowledge, they remain unconquered, as no climber has dared challenge them.

Now it must be said many aren't as impressed by the cliffs as I. One of those debunkers is my brother. And brothers being brothers, the more he protested my designation, the more I made of the cliffs' awesomeness.

That back and forth pretty much ended my compilation of the state's seven wonders. And, as usual, my brother, so quick to criticize, didn't have anything constructive to add to the discussion.

But if I were to make a list I would surely add the roller-coaster hills some 20 miles northeast of the cliffs on Kansas Highway 62 south of Soldier (I think my brother might support this nomination). I have been on other roads with g-force peaks and valleys in the state, but few of them paved and no other designated a state highway. It's a true national treasure for the thrill seeker.

And I'd add Horse Thief Canyon at Kanopolis Lake. Go there some time to see why, but watch for rattlesnakes.

I think I'd also select the flattest, most treeless piece of terrain somewhere in Greeley County's Harrison Township -- some truly isolated place of nothingness, limitless sky and wind. That's what so many people think Kansas is, so we might as well indulge them and at the same time honor how special such places are.

That's five nominations from me, which is enough because I'm not selfish. But none of them are on the list, of course, although the 24 finalists does include some cool things like the John Steuart Curry murals in the Capitol Building, St. Marys Church in St. Benedict (where my mother grew up and once insisted I visit with her), the Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, and Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend. But the list also includes the Garden of Eden in Lucas, which might be really weird but not wonderful, and the complete waste of time that is the big ball of twine in Cawker City, and the puzzling selection of the faux Brookville Hotel in Abilene (the original I could have been on board with).

If you want to look at the complete list, it's at 8wonders.org. While there, viewers can vote for their picks from now until the end of the year. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will announce the winners Jan. 29, 2008, which is of course Kansas Day.

So take part if you want, but remember how compromised the list is without the St. Clere Cliffs.

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