Are we still in Kansas?

Are we still in Kansas? Yes! Lucas is an hour and a half drive from Lindsborg. After spending several days exploring the area around Lindsborg, Kansas, and are moving on now to Wilson State Park and the nearby community of Lucas in north-central Kansas.  

During my research on what to see and do in Kansas, Lucas appears several times as a fun place to visit where we can see unusual folk art displays. It is a very short distance from Wilson State Park, where we could camp overnight in our RV. Sounded good to us – and it was!

Lucas, Kansas

GPS Coordinates: 39.058839, -98.5374

Lucas’s tiny rural farming community with around 400 residents is known as the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.” We arrived in town after 5 pm. on a weekday, and most all businesses were closed, including the Grassroots Art Center and the Garden of Eden.

We were surprised to see that Lucas has a busy downtown area where we saw several people walking and driving about, even after 5 pm.

Bowl Plaza: America’s Most Artistic Giant Toilet

213 Main Street
Lucas, KS 67648
Closes at 8 pm

This is a fascinating site! Thousands of tourists travel to Lucas, Kansas each year to its Grassroots Art Center and Garden of Eden. There were no public bathrooms available for these tourists until the artists in town took it upon themselves to build these spectacular facilities on Lucas’ main street.

I read about this, but we were not looking for it when we drove right past it. To say this place is eyecatching is a colossal understatement. I’d give these bathrooms five stars for cleanliness and certainly for uniqueness. Unfortunately, we arrived in Lucas in the late afternoon when all the art venues were closed.

This bathroom, however, was open, sparkling shiny clean, and AMAZING to see. I can only imagine how the community came to decide that a giant mosaic toilet on the main street of town would be a great idea, but it definitely was!

Very elaborate and colorful mosaics cover all the interior walls. Of course, there is a men’s restroom and a women’s restroom, although women and men are welcome to use either room. The men’s room has toy cars and robots on the walls.

The women’s room is covered with teacups and glass flowers. This bathroom is really an art gallery created by very talented artists. In 2018 the honor of “Quirkiest Experience” was bestowed upon Bowl Plaza in the International Toilet Tourism Awards. I had no idea there was such a competition!

Grassroots Art Center

213 S Main St
Lucas, KS 67648

Unfortunately, The  Grassroots Art Center was closed both times we attempted to visit. I do not know if Covid was responsible for that or not. However, my reading told me this Art Center contains Grassroot art exhibits from many artists, and generally are items made from recycled materials.

This is considered Outsider art created by self-taught artists that are not involved with the mainstream world of art. We were sorry to miss this, but maybe another day, huh? 

What’s Grassroots art?

Grassroots art is created by self-taught individuals, usually during their retirement years. Often driven by a vision, they work for many years creating an environment which is meant to be viewed as a whole.  Many times the artist is inspired by seemingly useless recycled items. These environments are difficult to preserve and often deteriorate or are dismantled when the artist dies.

S. P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden

305 East 2nd Street
Lucas, KS, 67648
Admission: $7 adults / $2 children / Under 5 free

Are we still in Kansas?

On the National Register of Historic Places, this art attraction was built by S. P. Dinsmoor, a Civil War veteran. He began building in 1904, and these three-story structures continue to be attraction in Lucas, Kansas, since 1907.

Included at Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden is a limestone log cabin and mausoleum where Mr. Dinsmoor and his first wife are buried! His Will stated that he wanted to be a permanent part of his work. He is entombed in a concrete coffin above his first wife, with a glass lid visitors can peek into to see him.

The property, abandoned until 1969, reopened as an attraction. Over 15,000 people visit S. P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden each year. This is an extraordinary sight to see.

Dinsmoor’s Coffin?

Included at Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden is a limestone log cabin and mausoleum where Mr. Dinsmoor and his first wife are buried! His Will stated that he wanted to be a permanent part of his work. He is entombed in a concrete coffin above his first wife, with a glass lid visitors can peek into to see him.

Outdoor sculptures – still in Kansas

We could view the outdoor sculptures, but the gate was locked and closed each time we stopped to visit. Probably another Covid closure. I do wish we had been able to tour inside. Another visit?

Miller Park

304 2nd St.
Lucas, KS 67648

These miniature sculptures, located adjacent to the Garden of Eden, represent former Lucas residents, Roy and Clara Miller’s favorite places they visited, and Lucas’ buildings’ replicas.

These sculptures, made from rocks, shells, and minerals, were purchased by The Kohler Foundation in 2012, restored, and returned to Lucas. They are available for public viewing year-round.

World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things

214 South Main
Lucas, Kansas 67658

Missed it! We were unable to visit more than one of Lucas’s attractions, but once again, someday we’ll make it back here. Have you seen this collection? I’d like to know what we missed.

Post Rock Scenic Byway

Sculpted by Fred Whitman

Sturdy stone fence posts can be seen along the Post Rock Scenic Byway, the short drive between Lucas and Wilson, Kansas. Trees are not readily available for fence posts, so limestone was used for fence posts.

Some of the fence posts have been carved by Fred Whitman, an artist from California. The carvings are the faces of Lucas residents.

Wilson State Park

RR 1, Box 181
Sylvan Grove, Kansas 67481

We made Wilson State Park our home while visiting this area. This park is a massive 945 acres located on the 9,000-acre Wilson Lake, which is Kansas Clearest lake, and boaters, fishermen, and campers year-round enjoy it year-round.

A long winding road led us to our pull-through, full-hookups campsite located right on the lake. What a beautiful spot. The State Park offers all the amenities you expect to find, including biking and hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and excellent birding opportunities.

The lake is quite famous for its striped bass and walleye also.

St. Fidelis Catholic Church (Cathedral of the Plains)

900 Cathedral
Victoria, KS

As we left Wilson State Park headed west to our next destination, we saw a highway sign describing this church as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas.

Right here is one of the great joys of RV travel. We turned off the highway and drove straight to this church to check it out.

Cathedral of the Plains, built by German pioneers, was named one of The 8 Wonders of Kansas because of its magnificent and grand architecture and craftsmanship.

The church, completed in 1911, is built in the shape of a cross, has twin bell towers, and can seat over 1,000. Three stained-glass rose windows, the largest being 13 feet in diameter, creates beautiful lighting.

Although St. Fidelis does not have a cathedral’s status, in 1912, William Jennings Bryan named it the Cathedral of the Plains. This magnificent church, restored in the 1990s and beautiful to see, was decreed a minor Basicila by the Pope in February 2014.

St. Fidelis Rose Window

A self-operated audio tour is available at various stations throughout the church. One of the remarkable stories told in the audio presentation is how the 14 Vermont granite pillars that support the roof, each weighing 8,500 pounds, managed to be moved into place.

When the first pillar was loaded onto a regular farm wagon, it collapsed the wagon; a thrasher machine was reinforced and reshaped into a wagon pulled by eight horses capable of moving the granite pillars into location. Problem solved.

St Fidelis

There are so so many unexpected things we happen upon as we drive along. It is a wonder we are ever able to end a trip! Most of the sights that capture our interest along our drives are not huge, big tourist attractions, but instead are unusual offbeat oddities that seem to be found everywhere.

The history of how these sights and attractions came into being is usually the REAL attraction. We are compiling a very long list of places to revisit and are so grateful to have the time and availability to continue our travels.

We did spend a few more days in Kansas so check back to see where we end up next.

Are we still in Kansas?

8 thoughts on “Are we still in Kansas?

  1. Pingback: Little Sweden in Kansas? | Always Want To Go
  2. I just discovered your post, and as the owner of a Lucas business, I wanted to take a moment to request that you do come back in the future. Lucas residents took the Covid pandemic very seriously (many volunteers and business owners are older, and we see tourists from ALL over the country, so the risk was there), which is why some of the attractions you tried to visit may have been closed. Most places do close down at 5pm as well, on weekdays and weekends. If you are able to stop again, please come on a weekday or Saturday between 9 and 5, as I know you won’t be disappointed! Best wishes, and thank you for visiting and promoting our special town!

    1. Thank you for reading my post. We definitely plan to return to Lucas. We are from the older generation ourselves and also have taken Covid seriously. We also have expected to find many attractions closed during our travels and appreciate and agree with the necessity to do so. I am happy to say that we are fully vaccinated and more comfortable traveling now ourselves. We look forward to a return visit!

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  4. I can’t believe you walked around Lucas and didn’t run into someone who, if they did not have the keys to something, knew someone who did. The residents of Lucas are some of the friendliest and helpful people we have ever met. Along with that, they have a pride in their place and the unique attractions that reside there. We live in Texas, but would visit our friend, ceramic artist Eric Abraham there. His work can be seen in the museum, but when he was alive he had a fantastic gallery adjacent to Bowl Plaza, and much of the ceramic work there is his. Please go back and visit the galleries if you have a chance. And the K-18 Diner was top notch when we would visit, I hope that is still true!

    1. Thank you for your comments. We were truly disappointed to have missed so much of Lucas’ charms. We do need to make a return visit. We enjoy making new friends and meeting new people along our travels. We learn so much everywhere we go. K-18 Diner is on my list now!

  5. I was raised in Lucas. It had a lot more businesses then. There were 2 grocery stores. There was a Ford and Chevrolet dealerships. There were 2 cafes and a drug store. There was a locker plant, they butchered in the back. The Bowl Plaza cost $850,000 to build. They received many grants. Thank you for the blog. The last I heard people from all 50 states and 17 countries had visited it.

    1. You must have had a great childhood! It fascinates us to learn about and visit these great small towns that have so much character and history. Kansas was full of so many surprises for us.

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