Old Limestone Church buildings in Kansas
June 29, 2009
We are camped in Hays, Kansas at EL Charra. It is a FHU place for $18 but nothing better than OK. If you are looking for amenities this isn't the place for you. In fact we found a much better campground operated by the City of Ellis $15 a night for water & electric that we will stay in the next time we stop in this area.
Old Limestone Lutheran church Walker, Kansas
We stopped in Walker, Kansas exit 172 on I-70. Walker really isn't anything but this beautiful Lutheran church. It is totally amazing to see such a magnificent structure in the middle of the open plain with only a few homes around it. Things have obviously changed over the years.
Our next stop was in Victoria, Kansas home of Saint Fidelis Church also known as "The Cathedral of the Plains".
The presence of this large church on the Plains of Kansas is a lasting testimony to the faith of people in this farming community.
The first settlers of this area were gentlemen farmers from England who arrived in 1873 intent on duplicating their aristocratic lives. The harsh weather and rough ground changed that.
These Englishmen were joined in 1875 by a group of poor immigrants from southern Russia known as Volga-Germans, who were fleeing from service in the Czar's army and dangers to their Catholic faith.
The British soon found pioneer life to harsh with respect to the lifestyle they had known in England. They could not adapt and in a few short years most returned home leaving the town to the Volga-German community. The Volga-Germans had been hardened by their experience of a hundred years on the steppes of Russia. They stayed to work the land and make it their home. The town's Name of Victoria is the only English legacy that we can see.
Construction on this church was begun in 1908 and completed in 1911. The exterior is constructed of native limestone, quarried seven miles south of Victoria. Large layers of limestone rock about 8-inches thick, were cleared of top soil then perforated by hand augers with holes 8-inches to 10-inches apart. Into these holes wedges were inserted and tapped with a hammer until the rock sprang apart along the line of perforation. The stone was then loaded on wagons and hauled to the building site to be dressed by local masons.
At the time of its dedication it was the largest church west of the Mississippi River..
The Cathedral of the Plains Victoria, Kansas
As you can imagine construction was a gigantic task and an amazing feat considering that it was accomplished without automatic lifts and power tools. Each stone weighed 50 to 100 lbs. Fathers and grown sons of some families are recorded as hauling as many as 70 to 80 stones each.
In addition to the native limestone a great quantity of Bedford stone was imported from Indiana for the doorways, and the bases and capitals of the pillars.
Inside The Cathedral of the Plains Victoria, Kansas
Eighteen granite pillars that grace the interior were brought to the site from Vermont. When they arrived from Vermont they were unloaded by the rail road 3/4 of a mile from the construction site. Local farm equipment was not up to the task of moving these columns. There is an interesting story about how these columns were moved to the site and finally into the church. It would help to know that they weigh between 10-15 tons each.
The altar and pulpit is special marble cut and hand polished in Italy.
Google Cathedral of the Plains if you want more information. The story is a good one.
Another Beautiful Limestone church in Kansas
The area of Kansas has any number of beautiful churches constructed with native stone.
Old Limestone Church building in small town Kansas
Old Limestone Church building in Kansas
Native Limestone outcropping in Kansas
Limestone outcropping south of Cedar Bluff Reservoir. It was an outcropping such as this that supplied the Limestone used in those beautiful churches.
Native Limestone commercial building in Hays, Kansas
This is a commercial building in Hays, Kansas.
Another old limestone church building located in Hays, Kansas
And across the street from that commercial building this church in Hays, Kansas stands proud.
Here are some of our other Kansas Travel Adventures:
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.