We arrived at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve at 10:50 am, just in time to hop on their free bus tour around 3 miles/11,000 acres of the open prairie, carefully and slowly being returned to it’s pre-pioneer/human intervention state. There’s a nice visitor center which outlines the history of the American Tallgrass Prairies, human use, settlement and modification, and the work being done to restore and preserve this small section of the prairie for the animals and to provide visitors with a living historical example of the natural beauty that once covered 170 million acres of the Midwestern US states.
Ranger Jeff was quite knowledgeable and gave an impressively informative tour of the prairie land. There is a herd of 100 bison living in this park, as well as pastures for a few herds of cattle.
Near the visitor’s center at the preserve’s boundary, is a beautiful Second Empire Victorian Mansion and ranch buildings complex from the l barn house built in 1881 that are all open to tour. It was something really cool to explore. The barn has three levels and still used to house horses living at the homestead. The house is partially furnished and has free self-guided tour sheets that are very informative about the rancher who lived here a surprisingly short period of time, considering the expense and effort it took to buy, build and manage a large herd of cattle here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is not the most exciting places we visited, but that’s kind of the point – Standing out on the prairie during our tour, you can really imagine the passing of time as countless animals and humans passed through here, finding life and sometimes death on the vast prairie. Also, the wind just blows . . . and blows . . . The Ranger told us that it blows for several weeks straight, usually, before calming down for a day or two before starting up again. I totally believe the stories about people driven mad by the non-stop sound of wind and shushing grasses that surround you in this place.
As evidence, I present video exhibit A: