Finalists listed for 8 wonders of Kansas

? Never mind the Kansans who sneered that there’s nothing wonderful in their state. The nonprofit group behind the Eight Wonders of Kansas contest got hundreds of submissions and has now selected 24 finalists.

Oddities such as that big ball of twine in Cawker City dot the list, but buildings, historical sites and striking landscapes claimed most of the 24 spots.

That’s in keeping with the philosophy of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the organization that educates people about Kansas and is running the contest.

Nominees had to be publicly accessible and reflect one of the eight elements of rural culture the foundation uses to promote communities: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history and people.

Now, Kansans are invited to vote – at – for their favorites until Dec. 31. The final eight will be announced on Kansas Day on Jan. 29. Photos and descriptions of the finalists are posted at the same Web site.

The 24 finalists are:

¢ Arikaree Breaks, Cheyenne County, which feature rugged canyons and windblown silt areas called loess.

¢ Ball of Twine, Cawker City, billed as the largest ball of sisal twine in the world at a current 18,032 pounds.

¢ Big Brutus, West Mineral, the world’s largest electric coal shovel at 160 feet tall.

¢ Big Well, Greensburg, among the world’s largest hand-dug wells.

¢ Brookville Hotel, Abilene (formerly in Brookville), a restaurant serving icons of Kansas cuisine (skillet-fried chicken, relishes, baking-powder biscuits) since 1915.

¢ Chase County Courthouse, Cottonwood Falls, built in 1873.

¢ Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Barton and Stafford counties, migratory stops for North American waterfowl and shorebirds.

¢ Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, more than 100,000 acres.

¢ Constitution Hall State Historic Site, Lecompton, the 151-year-old building where the Lecompton Constitution was drafted in 1857.

¢ John Steuart Curry murals, State Capitol, Topeka, depicting John Brown and the anti-slavery movement in Kansas Territory.

¢ Davis Memorial, Hiawatha, one man’s memorial to his wife featuring 11 life-size statues of the couple.

¢ Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, containing the papers of the only five-star general to become president of the United States, serving from 1953 to 1961.

¢ Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County, considered one of the best-preserved frontier Indian posts in the American West.

¢ Garden of Eden, Lucas, a folk-art sculpture garden built from 113 tons of concrete.

¢ Gypsum Hills Scenic Drive, Barber County, stunning canyons and bluffs of rock stained red by iron oxide.

¢ Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, with collections of U.S. and Russian space artifacts including spacecraft from all three early manned space programs.

¢ Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Hutchinson, where visitors travel 650 feet below ground to view natural geologic formations and artifacts left by miners over the past century.

¢ Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, the 44-foot sculpture by artist Blackbear Bosin.

¢ Lake Scott State Park, Scott County, with craggy canyons, scenic overlooks and historic connections to the El Cuartelejo Pueblo Indian ruins.

¢ Monument Rocks/Castle Rock, Gove County, also known as the Chalk Pyramids and designated a National Natural Landmark.

¢ Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site, Republic County, once home to as many as 1,500 members of one of the most powerful tribes in the Central Plains.

¢ St. Fidelis Church, Victoria, built in 1911 and dubbed by William Jennings Bryan “The Cathedral of the Plains.”

¢ St. Mary’s Church, St. Benedict, the only known G.F. Satory-painted church to be preserved.

¢ Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Flint Hills, Chase County, known as the last significant example of the tallgrass prairie in North America.