Monday, December 14, 2015

Secrets of Southeast Kansas: Grenola

Back in the day – 1881 to 1884 to be more specific - the town was a major cattle shipping point in the United States. A mural depicting one of many longhorn cattle drives commemorates its cowtown legacy in the quiet community of Grenola.

Grenola lies just south of U.S. 160 in Elk County. The town was created in 1879 by a merger of two communities, Greenfield and Canola, along the Southern Kansas Railroad. The cattle drives of the 1880’s gave way to an oil and gas boom in the early 1900’s. Grenola’s population swelled to 1,500 in 1920, gradually shrinking to just over 200 today.

The cattle drive mural is painted on the west side of North Main Street. A restored gazebo and stone etched with a short narrative on the town’s history stand nearby. Across the street is the Grenola Historical Society Museum, housed in the 1909 Grenola Mill and Elevator. A walk north on Main gives locals and visitors a panoramic view of the modern rural landscape, which features windmills in addition to cattle.

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