Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Castle in the Prairie

On my tour of Kansas and the surrounding country side, The Reluctant Farmer and her mother said to each other, "Let's take her to see Coronado Heights!"  There was a lot of excited chatter and hushed talking in the front seat, and I had no clue exactly where we were going.  I watched the prairie zip past my window, as we bumped along the spine jarring dirt road, and finally I heard them say:  "We're here!"  I looked up and there was a large hill in front of us.  It didn't look spectacular.  It looked just like any other hill that you might see, anywhere in Ohio.  We wound our way up the steep driveway, and when we reached the top of the hill I was speechless!    

It was like I was suddenly transported to Scotland!

Immediately I got excited (Remember I LOVE anything old and abandoned!) and started rattling off questions faster than an auctioneer on the auction block.  

"What is this place?!"  
"Who built it?!"
"Why did they build it?!"
"Can we go inside?!"

The Reluctant Farmer said:  "I think it was built by some french explorer."  
Her mother quickly disagreed and said:  "No, I think it was built by the WPA in the 1940's."    

This led to more questions by me:  

"What is the WPA?"  
"Why would you build such a place if you weren't protecting yourself from something?!"
"Were there Indian attacks here?!"

Side note:  Turns out that awesome castles bring out my inner ADHD tendencies....

Rain coming in across the prairie!

Since neither of my "tour guides" could give me solid answers, I took to good ol' trusty Google and searched for the reason behind this awesome castle.  I learned that Coronado Heights was built by the Works Progress Administrations in the 1930's.  It was named after Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, an explorer who visited Kansas in 1541 in search of the Native American community Quivira, where he was told "the trees were hung with golden bells and the pots and pans were beaten gold."  Coronado never did find the gold he was looking for, but he did get this awesome castle named after him hundreds of years later!  Sort of the same, right?!

Now, what is the WPA you ask?!  
The WPA was a national program that employeed millions of unemployed people in the late 1930's, having them perform public works projects such as creating roads, bridges or large castles.  The purpose was to provide a job and income stability to families that otherwise would not have an income during The Great Depression.  

So in an anti-climatic conclusion I learned that the castle was only there for people to enjoy, and enjoy it I did.  From the magical feeling I got from discovering a castle in the middle of a prairie, to the strength that this structure demanded, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Perhaps the most enjoyable part was watching three rain storms come in over the prairie from different directions.  It was breathtaking!  

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