8 Wonders of Kansas revealed

Lecompton's Constitution Hall not on final list

Castle Rock, a limestone bluff left behind from a vast inland sea thousands of years ago, was named, along with Monument Rock, one of the 8

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson was voted one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. Holding the largest collection of U.S. space artifacts outside of the Air and Space Museum, this Smithsonian affiliate also boasts the largest collection of Russian space artifacts in the Western world. The center's educational programs include Space Camp for young and old.

? The “8 Wonders of Kansas” were announced Tuesday, and left off the list was a key site in both state and United States history.

Constitution Hall State Historic Site in Lecompton made the group of 24 finalists in the contest but not the final eight.

Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, said he was disappointed Constitution Hall didn’t make the “8 Wonders” list but said all those that did were deserving.

“This is a great state with many places to go and see,” Bahnmaier said.

The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution drafted in Constitution Hall in 1857 ignited a political firestorm and pushed the country closer to the Civil War.

“The Civil War started here in Kansas,” Bahnmaier said.

But on Tuesday, the winners of the “8 Wonders,” based on a vote of more than 24,000 people from all 50 states, were:

¢ Big Well, Greensburg.

¢ Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, in Barton and Stafford counties.

¢ Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene.

¢ Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson.

¢ Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Hutchinson.

¢ Monument Rocks and Castle Rock, Gove County.

¢ St. Fidelis Catholic Church (Cathedral of the Plains), Victoria.

¢ Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County.

The “8 Wonders of Kansas” contest was sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced the winners before several hundred fourth- and fifth-graders at the Capitol for Kansas Day events.

Marci Penner, director of the foundation, said the chosen sites are unique to Kansas.

“We’d love it if the fun of the contest would launch a wave of exploring Kansas,” she said.

Penner declined to divulge the rank of the “8 Wonders” by vote totals, saying that would detract from the purpose of the contest.

Tim Rues, administrator of the Constitution Hall site, said the publicity from being among the 24 finalists has been good for Lecompton.

“I personally feel very honored that Constitution Hall was in the top 24, and I hope that translates into more people discovering Kansas history,” he said.

Other finalists included the Arikaree Breaks, Cheyenne County; Ball of Twine, Cawker City; Big Brutus, West Mineral; Brookville Hotel, Abilene; Chase County Courthouse, Cottonwood Falls; Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County; John Steuart Curry Murals in the Capitol, Topeka; Davis Memorial, Hiawatha; Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County; Garden of Eden, Lucas; Gypsum Hills Scenic Drive, Barber Country; Keeper of the Plains, Wichita; Lake Scott State Park, Scott County; Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site, Republic County; and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Benedict.