Alma is known for its native stone fences and buildings, constructed mostly of limestone. Two scenic drives in the area, Native Stone Scenic Byway and Mill Creek Drive, wind through the Flint Hills countryside dotted with fences and old stone farmhouses and barns. I saw a few as soon as I left I-70 and headed south on Highway 99. About halfway through the three-mile drive into Alma, I also saw this old bridge a few yards off the highway on a gravel road. Not many of these left!
As I was touring Alma, I accidentally found the Mill Creek Drive, also known as Old K-10 Highway, on the west edge of town so I meandered out a few miles, hoping to spot old, crumbling stone fences. This route would be quieter and safer than darting in and out of homeward-bound commuter traffic on busy Highway 99. I didn't go far before I found a restored fence. Efforts are being made to restore the old fences so people can see how they were originally constructed.
A few miles further, I found the old, crumbling fences.
Then I headed back to town to look at the stone buildings. Wabaunsee High School, constructed of limestone with a red tile roof, is considered one of the most beautiful schools in Kansas. All was quiet around the building. The action was south of town at the ball diamonds where the Charger baseball and softball teams were hosting Silver Lake. Unfortunately, both home teams lost. Hey guys and gals, better luck next Tuesday at Lyndon!
Alma is the county seat for Wabaunsee County and the courthouse is constructed of native stone. The interior has terrazzo on some floors and also marble. Unfortunately, I was there after business hours and couldn’t go inside.
The downtown area has several neat old stone buildings. The Alma Hotel, built in the late 1800s, is currently being refurbished into a bed and breakfast by the current owner.
The Kinne and Kerns Building was once a general merchandise store. The Community Art Center and Farm Bureau Insurance Agency now share the building space. Great old building!
The City Hall and Antiques Emporium share a corner building which has an interesting history, according to the City of Alma website:
"This beautiful and stately native stone building was once one of the finest buildings in town. It was built in the early 1880s by the Limerick Brothers, two red-headed Irishmen. These freckled, Irishmen came swinging into town with a fortune of $375,000 to invest, which they did in splendid style. They built the most handsome business building in Alma, which remains today, much as it was before the turn of the century and is still called “the Limerick Building.”
I love this story! Again, sorry I missed the opportunity to see the inside, particularly of the Antique Emporium. Will definitely come back and probably boost the Alma economy with a purchase(s) there!
I arrived at the library and was greeted by Judith, director of the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library System, and Joyce, director of the Alma Branch. These gals are delightful! Judith was excited to show me the special refreshment item: Cow Pie Cookies, baked by the Alma Bakery and Sweet Shoppe, the cookies with the frosting along the outer edge of the plate. They were wonderful! How clever and creative!
Joyce gifted me with a couple packages of cheese from the Alma Creamery. I've visited the Creamery on a previous trip. As the sign in front says, their cheese is “Nibblin’ Good!” Joyce passed on a helpful hint: serve this cheese at room temperature to bring out the robust flavor. Never heard that and will definitely try it.
I was invited to speak as part of the library’s National Library Week celebration. The patrons were a fun audience and many had either grown up or now lived on farms.
Judith asked me if I saw the sign at the Stockgrowers State Bank announcing my appearance at the library. I had missed that, so as I turned onto Missouri Avenue, the main drag, and headed out of town, I looked for the bank and was quite surprised at the “sign.” I was expecting a large poster of some type. This is what I saw: