restricted access Entering the High Plains
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87 w e s t b o u n d produce enough energy to power 104,000 homes. Invenergy, based in Chicago, developed this site along with sixty-seven other wind farm projects in the United States, Canada, and Europe. 150 White Roads Notice how white the county roads are in this location. This is because they are surfaced with crushed limestone, a particularly white rock that is found in this area. Along the interstate, road cuts clearly reveal limestone layers similar to those that provide the road-surfacing rock. You may recall that these layers were formed at the bottom of a warm, ancient sea. entering the high plains 149 The High Plains You have entered the High Plains region—the largest, highest, and driest region in Kansas, covering the western third of the state. Elevation ranges from about 4,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado-Kansas border to 2,000 feet here on the eastern edge of the region. The climate is becoming drier as you travel west. This region receives less than 20 inches of precipitation per year. The High Plains have a reputation for having strong winds and extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) that can fluctuate wildly, sometimes changing by 60 degrees in less than twenty-four hours. 148 Three Museums Ellis, ahead on the left, boasts three small museums. The Ellis Railroad Museum focuses on Union Pacific Railroad history and offers a 2.5-mile miniature train ride. The Bukovina Society of the Americas Museum honors the immigrants to this area of Kansas from the province that was once part of the Austrian Empire and now is divided between Ukraine and Romania. As you can imagine given its location on the eastern slopes of Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountains, Bukovina and its people were deeply affected by both world wars in the last century.ÛAs a multiethnic province, the name Bukovina has several spellings, but all mean “Land of the Beech Trees.” The Bukovina Society of the Americas welcomes everyone with an interest in the history and culture of this land to visit the museum. 88 d r i v i n g a c r o s s k a n s a s The Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum marks Ellis as the town where inventor and automobile manufacturer Walter Chrysler grew up during the 1880s as the son of a railroad worker. You may recall he was born back in Wamego. He moved here at the age of three as his father followed the railroad work west. Walter learned about engines by working on the railroad himself. His first job as an apprentice paid 5 cents an hour. Before long, he was forging steel to make his own tools. Because of the quickness and quality of his work, he was soon a master mechanic. Chrysler’s boyhood home contains his personal memorabilia. The museum also displays a Chrysler car from 1924, the first year of production. Maybe you are driving a car that bears his name. Every day, Chryslers pass Chrysler’s hometown. Other notables who spent time in Ellis include Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody. Walt Disney’s grandfather and father both lived in Ellis as well. 144 Field Windbreaks On the right, you will notice a row of trees along a field. These “field windbreaks” have several purposes: they prevent the wind from blowing the soil from fields; they help crops conserve moisture by reducing evaporation; they protect livestock, birds, and other wildlife from winter winds; and they are used as snow fences to prevent snow from drifting across roads (see 16W, p. 131). Research has also shown them to be an important recreational resource, especially for hunters, and an aesthetically pleasing visual addition to the landscape. Many field windbreaks were planted after the dust bowl disaster, which is described vividly at 50W (p. 119). With the United States reeling from the dust bowl and the Great Depression, the US Department of Agriculture developed an ambitious plan to plant trees in 100-foot-wide strips, not more than a mile apart, in a band from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. During this project, 18,599 miles of windbreaks containing more than 223 million trees were planted. According to the Kansas Forest Service (KFS), the state now has almost 270,000 acres of windbreaks. However, the KFS also has reported that 43 percent of these windbreaks need to be rehabilitated due to a...