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  • Driving Across Kansas: A Guide to I-70 by Ted Cable and Wayne Maley
  • Travis Smith
Driving Across Kansas: A Guide to I-70.
By Ted Cable and Wayne Maley. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017. vii + 252 pp. Illustrations, references, index. $17.95 paper.

As the title implies, Cable and Maley’s guide discusses 247 features found in proximity to the Interstate 70 corridor that stretches over 400 miles across Kansas. The content is spread across nine geographic areas: six city locales and three regions, including the Flint Hills, Smoky Hills, and High Plains. With entries every one to five miles, the authors use I-70 mile markers to identify the locations they detail, and the book is split up into westbound and eastbound halves so that travelers can read about the features in order depending upon which direction they are driving. Due to this structure, the book will mostly appeal to travelers, Kansans, and anyone interested in rudimentary history or agriculture on the Great Plains. Most of the seventy illustrations are standard additions, though some (like the spite fence) are vital for comprehension.

The authors endeavor to make travel across Kansas an enjoyable and enriching experience. They succeed when the features discussed are visible from the interstate. Reading about Guard of the Plains or the wind farms while driving among the massive turbines makes the experience much more enjoyable. The authors also succeed through their brief but insightful vignettes. The concise two to three paragraph entries are short enough to be read in the time it takes to drive by the described feature so the traveler doesn’t fall behind. But this is also problematic for nontravelers solely interested in the content because, to keep the entries relatively short, some are chopped up into two parts of the book, which necessitates a lot of flipping back and forth to read an entire entry. If there is only time for one, read the richer [End Page 246] westbound section. It contains twenty-six more pages of content than the eastbound route, has half the references, and passage through all nine geographic areas is clearly labeled.

Rex Buchanan and James McCauley’s Roadside Kansas (1987) explores the state’s geological features along nine highways, including I-70. Driving Across Kansas is a good companion because it adopts a similar approach (mile markers instead of odometer readings) but eschews geology for more of a human geography perspective, and this is where the book thrives. Accentuated by poetry and diary excerpts, Great Plains entries reflect the tough, rural character of the state (e.g., iron cross grave markers) and reveal hardships that Kansans have overcome to live here, including surviving grasshoppers, extreme temperatures, the Dust Bowl, and thirst so vast that it was quenched via blood and drinking water from a bison’s stomach.

Travis Smith
Department of Communication Studies
Kansas State University


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pp. 246-247
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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