Kansas’ admission to the Union 154 years ago inspired rejoicing in the streets, in part because it was as a free state after years of bloody struggle.
If the celebration of this Kansas Day will be far quieter, Kansans still can take immense pride in their home on the range. And they do.
They demonstrated as much by donating $113,000 to save and restore the 1872 cabin on the banks of Beaver Creek in Smith County where pioneer doctor Brewster Higley wrote the words to what became the state song. It is to Sedgwick County’s credit – and surely thanks in part to the coverage of The Eagle’s historian, Beccy Tanner – that much of the money for the project came from our area, though the historic site is near the Nebraska border.
In October, the Home on the Range cabin and its grounds were ready for a celebration, with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer presenting the governor’s proclamation dedicating it “in the memory and sacrifice of our pioneer ancestors, to the vision and determination of the present owners, to the many who supported its restoration that it might be enjoyed by future generations.”
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Now, to try to help more future generations find and see this state treasure, Sen. Elaine Bowers, R-Concordia, has offered a bill to designate a 17-mile stretch of K-8 as the Home on the Range Highway. The plan is for private donations to cover the $5,000 cost of the highway signs, as well as help defray future maintenance expenses.
Though the Legislature has wasted time and made some questionable choices on naming roadways or designating things the state’s official this or that (watch for the great debate on whether to make channel catfish the state fish), a Home on the Range Highway would show esteem for the best state song in the nation, while showing more people how to find the beautiful setting that inspired it.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman