I live two miles off U.S. Highway 24, which also runs through Clay Center. I’m quite familiar with the stretch of highway as far as Manhattan; beyond was all new territory. Due to lack of time, I didn’t make as many stops and side tours as I wanted. One of those would have been to drive across Tuttle Creek Dam. Maybe another time.
One stop I did make was in Leonardville at Nelson’s Landing, a café owned by Kim Nelson, mother of former K-State Wildcat and current Green Bay Packers standout wide receiver, Jordy Nelson. The timing was great for lunch!
I resisted the temptation of the specialty hamburgers—next trip—and ordered the Southwest Salad. It was delicious, especially the dressing! One temptation I didn’t resist was two pieces of homemade coconut cream pie in to-go boxes to savor later at home with Bill. Also delicious!
After lunch, I headed to Clay Center. Previously, I’d been there once, in November, 1972. The event was a Class 1A high school regional football playoff between my hometown high school, Burlingame, and Clyde High School. The game was played at the Clay Center High stadium—in a couple of inches of snow. The winner would advance to the state championship game. Our team won in a close contest. The final game was played in Burlingame and, in another close one, we prevailed. I took a nostalgic drive by the stadium.
On the way to the library, I drove around the downtown area where the Clay County Courthouse has a commanding presence. Because it was Saturday the courthouse was closed, but I would like to have gone inside.
Next stop, the Clay Center Carnegie Library. Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929 with funds donated by businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. The first library in Clay Center dates back to 1887, but Carnegie funds weren’t applied for until 1909 and the building was completed in 1912.
According to its website, Clay Center calls itself “The City Beautiful.” I look forward to another trip sometime, possibly later in the spring, to explore the parks as well as other attractions in this progressive rural Kansas community.