County #12: Ellsworth

Wilson, in Ellsworth County, is the Czech Capital of Kansas. It’s also home to the World’s Largest Czech Egg: a lovely 7,000 pound, twenty foot tall hand-painted fiberglass egg.

Its black, white, red and yellow design was striking against the wintry Kansas sky.

The boys both thought it was pretty cool, and weird.  Sully thinks it may have been a T-Rex egg!

Next to the egg are the ruins of the Wilson Opera House, which burned down in a 2009 fire.  There are illustrations on site that show they are planning on preserving the opera house by converting it into an open-air pavilion.

After checking out the egg and the ruins, we took the advice in the Kansas Guidebook 2 and ate lunch at Made From Scratch.  Weston really, really wanted tacos, but we cautioned him that this was a German restaurant where you can get home-cooked bierocks and kolaches, and Mexican food was probably not going to happen.  We walk in to… TACO TUESDAY!  They had a taco bar set up that made this little boys’ whole trip, and a scratch-made rhubarb pie that made my whole trip!  A Kansas magazine article was framed on the wall, which detailed one explorer’s quest for the state’s best pie.  The author deemed Made From Scratch the maker of the best she had had so far.  I would concur — it was delightful!

We drove around the town after lunch and saw the Circular Stone Jail (a 1907 built water tower turned jail) and a familiar-looking bank.  Turns out, the Wilson State Bank Building was in the movie Paper Moon!

Also in Ellsworth County is Mushroom Rock State Park – one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas!  A childhood favorite of mine, Mushroom Rock State Park is named after mushroom-shaped sandstone outcroppings.

We hit this park last year on our spring break, so this year we headed in a different direction, on the Post Rock Scenic Byway.   This byway takes you from Wilson to Lucas through the Smoky Hills.  According to the Kansas Byways magazine, “because trees were in short supply, they used native stone [limestone] to build fenceposts.”  How cool!

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