True West
Stone by Stone Image Credit: True West
Stone by Stone Image Credit: True West

Stone By Stone

Shirley McClintock has dedicated her life to preserving the history of Council Grove, Kansas.

Jana Bommersbach

No, no, no, no!” That’s what they told Shirley McClintock when she asked her neighbors to save an old building along the Santa Fe Trail in Council Grove, Kansas.

“Don’t take this on because I won’t help you.” That’s what husband Kenneth told her.

But what she was told and what she heard were two different things. What she heard was: “Shirley, you have to do it your- self—don’t worry, they’ll fall in line.” And they did. That’s how a dump of a place was saved in 1994 and discovered to be a beautiful 18611 stone building—perhaps the oldest stone house still standing along the historic ic trail.

“I was like the Lone Ranger,” Shirley says today, speaking from what is now the Trail Days Cafe and Museum—serving food that represents everyone who’s lived on this dirt, from American Indians to German immigrants to Swedish farmers.

There was just something about this place that spoke to her. She couldn’t stand the thought that the abandoned building—a gas station for 50 years—was about to be bulldozed to make room for trailer houses. Maybe it spoke to her when walked around the place and realized that under all the paint and mortar that camouflaged its natural beauty was a stone house. Or maybe it was the day she found the Indian pictograph on a doorjamb. Whatever it was, she knew this was something historic and her town would be a los


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