The Best of Russell County
Wilson Lake is an oasis in the dry prairies of Western Kansas. The waters which flow into Wilson Lake have many unique properties because of the limestone through which they flow. The lake has high salt content which allows it to support some types of fish, such as the striped bass, which are native to the ocean. Limestone also filters the waters, making Wilson the clearest lake in Kansas, and a great location for scuba diving and other water sports.
Located in Russell, Kansas, the Deines Cultural Center is a non-profit educational resource that enriches local cultural life by providing artistic exhibits and activities, musical events and concerts, educational and historic programs. Free admission and accessibility to those with disabilities. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Dorrance is located in the eastern part of Russell County and is a rural farming community. In June of 1867, the Kansas Pacific Railroad tracks reached Dorrance, bringing German, English, Irish, and other immigrants, who had accounted for much of the town’s modest growth by 1870. A prairie fire almost destroyed the entire business district of Dorrance on March 27, 1879. The town was named after a Mr. Dorrance, who was the railroad superintendent at that time.
Russell’s original one-screen theatre built 1923 has been restored and shows movies every weekend and some weekdays. It has recently been updated with 3-D capabilities.
During the winter of 1870-71, the log cabin home of Jonathan Wesley Van Scoyoc, a Civil war veteran, and his wife, Margaret, was completed south of the creek that meanders through the valley just north of Luray, Kansas. The family, which also included a 3 year- old son, had arrived in Kansas in the spring, coming originally from Ohio via Illinois, and settling in the area of Coon Creek, about one-fourth mile north of what was to become the community of Luray.
This imposing building was constructed of native limestone or “post rock” to house the sheriff and county jail in 1907. Today the museum displays portray the early history of Russell County. View 100 years of Clothing, Heartland Politics, Russell County Goes to War, and the Painless Puller Palace during a visit to the Fossil Station Museum. Summer hours are Monday – Saturday 11:00 am till 4:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm till 4:00 pm.
Samuel Perry Dinsmoor, a retired schoolteacher, Civil War veteran, farmer and Populist politician, began building the Garden of Eden and Cabin Home in 1907 at the age of 64. For 22 years he fashioned 113 tons (2,273 sacks) of cement and many tons of limestone into his unique “log” cabin with its surrounding sculptures. The Garden of Eden is located in Lucas, Kansas
This structure is the oldest “post rock” stone house built in Russell in 1872 by Nicholas Gernon, a blacksmith and one of the original town settlers. This lovely home has been fully restored to the period of the 1890s. Located at 818 Kansas St., Russell, KS. Summer hours are Saturday and Sunday 1:00 pm till 4:00 pm.
The Grassroots Art Center has been open since 1995 and occupies three turn-of-the century native limestone buildings on the Main Street of Lucas. The center exhibits and promotes the appreciation of the work of self-taught artists, especially those whose work tends toward environments rather than individual works. Its galleries display the work of local exemplars as well as regional self-taught or “outsider” artists.
Granny Mae’s offers an old-fashioned fall festival atmosphere with hayrack rides, bonfires, marshmallow roasts, and live music. Located in rural Russell County this family farm was purchased by the Herber’s in 1942 and remains in the family today. Open every weekend from the end of September till the end of October.
The Heym-Oliver House is another classic example of the early stone home built in Russell. The locally cut limestone house was built in 1878 by Nicholas Heym, for his family of eleven to live in. Located at 503 N. Kansas St. in Russell.
The story of the people and events that make up the history of oil in this area will come alive at the Oil Patch Museum in Russell. Walk through an actual oil storage tank and study the geology, drilling and production and transportation exhibits. Located just North of Interstate 70 at the 184 exit. Summer hours are June 1-Aug. 31, Mon.-Sun., 4:00-8:00pm, and by appointment year around by calling 483-3637 or 483-4796.
Built in 1937 as a WPA project the Paradise limestone water tower is the only one of its kind in Kansas. This stone structure holds 50,000 gallons of water. Located at the North end of Paradise just off of highway K-18.
The Russell County Free Fair has great rides, music, food, and motor sports; its the best week of summer. If you are a life long resident of the area or just traveling through stop in to see the sights and join the fun. This annual event is held the last week of July.