In all of our travels, we have seen some amazing sights and been to some fascinating places. I keep a journal that lists the more than 650 cities and places we have visited in our long journey. Along the way have been some very big surprises. One of my favorite places that exemplifies “Surprise” is in Hutchinson Kansas.
When I retired from the Navy, we decided to get away from the Ocean. Maybe I was afraid of getting caught up in my old way of life and maybe it was a need for more space, but Kansas seemed to offer a new opportunity. From our new “base” in McPherson, we set off to discover the many parts of Kansas that added to the tapestry of America.
We visited so many places in our time there that really showcased America’s heartland. There are so many treasures there that have more meaning than all the amusement parks combined.
Cow towns like Dodge City and old Cavalry Forts like Fort Scott dot the plains and a youngster can still see a gunfight where good always overcome evil. Old Opera Houses like the first all electric McPherson Opera House that lit up the prairie sky while providing the locals with world class entertainment.
The Dwight D Eisenhower Library in Abilene is a must see destination for any American that loves their greatest leaders.
Kansas is full of surprises but none more so that the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.
Right near the wheat fields and endless acres of crops, a shining star really rises out of the prairie. Fifty years ago, it started as one town leader’s dream to have a Planetarium in the central part of the U.S. Patricia Brooks Carey’s vision was to create that opportunity and it certainly had humble beginnings. From their web site:
“ In 1962, the Hutchinson Planetarium opened inside the Poultry Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds with a used star projector and rented folding chairs.
Four years later, the Hutchinson Planetarium relocated to the campus of Hutchinson Community College, in what today houses Dr. Goddard’s Lab.
In 1976, Carey and the Hutchinson Planetarium’s board of directors began planning to significantly expand the facility. They sought the advice of former employee Max Ary, who had worked for the planetarium while going to college. Ary was the director of Ft. Worth’s Noble Planetarium at the time and happened to be serving on a Smithsonian committee that placed tens of thousands of space artifacts in museums after the Apollo program concluded.
So the Cosmosphere was in the right place at the right time.
Launched as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discover Center in 1980, the new facility featured permanent exhibit galleries in the Hall of Space Museum, one of the first OMNIMAX theaters in the world and the planetarium that started it all.
In 1997, the facility was further renovated and expanded to its present size, 105,000 square feet, nearly tripling the area devoted to the Hall of Space Museum. Today the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is one of the most comprehensive space museums in the world and one of the leading educational tourist attractions in the United States.”
The web site tells you all about the wonders you can see there. The facility is a real tribute to American Vision and the fulfillment of Really BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS Goals.
Put it on your bucket list.
You will be very glad you did.
Note to my fellow submariners:
One more thing: There has been a lot of talk for the past few years about a submarine museum that could offer an experience similar to the something like the Cosmosphere. That doesn’t take anything away from all of the hard working people who have built individual memorials or the federally owned museums. But the need for a “place of our own” that encompasses all generations, all wars, and is owned by the largest representation of us is still yet to be built.
If you agree, Where would you put it?