Senior Editor on the Prairie
Our recent literary roundup dredged up a great memory from Senior Editor Scott Stuckey. He offered up a book selection that helps bring him back:
I went to college in the Midwest and spent some weekends sightseeing in the Flint Hills of Kansas. One November, a friend and I hitched a ride to a lonely back road in the vicinity of Cottonwood Falls, hopped a fence, and started backpacking across the rolling tallgrass prairie, a state highway map our only guide. We saw no one for the next couple of days, crossing the sea of grass like early pioneers. Then, a snowstorm hit, and we got cold and wet.
We found a road, made our way to a ranch house, and knocked on the door. The family who lived there, who might easily have taken offense at our trespassing on private ranchland, welcomed us in, dried our clothes, fed us a huge meal, and drove us into town where our parents would pick us up. In the years since, that rolling prairie has become the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and it’s still worth a visit. But before you go, read William Least Heat-Moon’s PrairyErth, which he calls a “deep map” of Chase County, Kansas, where the preserve lies. Moon spent years getting to know the land and the people of this remote region, where hospitality and unencumbered views endure. The result is a rich, layered profile combining history, geology, geography, and contemporary narrative.
Visit the National Parks System’s Tallgrass Preserve website for more information on it’s history programs, tours, hiking trails, and historic building visits. Oh, and be sure to check the weather before you go.
Photo: National Park Service
- Nat Geo Expeditions