-open every day dawn to dusk-
Bring a picnic, your kids, friends, family-
Enjoy the fresh air and the Flint Hills. Take a walk around Volland and through the draw.
Wave to the train as it goes by, and fly a kite.
Did you know that Volland had the first tennis court in the area – and a softball team?
Families gathered here every Sunday afternoon, and sometimes there were a hundred people.
Renew the tradition, get out of the house, and bring your dog on a leash.
Sculpture on the Trail
A sculpture by Mark McHenry points toward the entrance to the Nature Trail.
Created from wood and iron artifacts of train tracks , the piece fits beautifully into the context of Volland and its origins. McHenry generously gifted this sculpture to The Volland Foundation in July 2022. Thank you, Mark, from all of us at the Volland Foundation!
The second gift of sculpture to The Volland Foundation by Mark McHenry
Saturday morning, September 10, 2022. 9 am.
“The skies in the southwest are deep blue, portending rain. Mark McHenry, architect, artist, sculptor arrives as planned, bringing a second sculpture to install on the Nature Trail at Volland. With the prospect of rain, we move quickly to the Trail. Mark has an idea for a location of this piece. He considers the view from which hikers will first discover it, and the space and shape required for the size of the sculpture. We discuss the way the water flows over this location during a big rain event. The artist is undeterred. He accepts that the sculptures he is gifting to the Volland Foundation will be subject to the natural forces of the environment and will show the passage of time and weather. He likes that. The materials of his art are natural and belong in a natural environment.
We begin to carry the pieces of the sculpture, one by one, down the path into the woods, and I think of the people in ancient times who built the Pyramids and Mayan temples, by hand, piece by piece. Make no mistake – I have no illusions of Pyramids or Mayan temples at Volland. But carrying pieces of wood and stone by foot to a place where something of importance is to be built stirs thoughts of the past. The connection of land and hand and art is present and keenly felt.
As the installation begins, the engineering and problem-solving required of the artist to realize his vision become apparent. Pieces fit together perfectly, the holes are in the right place, balance is achieved through careful thought. Admirable. Brilliant.
Putting it together is a kind of performance art in itself. Rumbling thunder and spitting rain spur efficiency. Trains blast by and remind us of the larger world outside this niche in the woods. Finally, the piece is in place. Cottonwood limestone from Chase County, wood from a Kansas walnut tree, and a bit of Manila line make a strong statement that refers to land and industry, agriculture, and productivity. It feels right.
It is raining harder now – a baptism of sorts for this sculpture living in the woods. The artist is happy. We love it. And we are most grateful for this gift, Mr. McHenry. Thank you.” – The Volland Foundation
Mark McHenry delivered his third gift of sculpture on Halloween morning 2022
With the help of Ryan Jones, Volland Director of Operations, the third sculpture was placed in view of the Volland Store, beckoning visitors to discover others on the Nature Trail.
Here’s a taste of what you will see on the Trail –
The Volland Store today | Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm, but you are welcome to stop by anytime, peek in the windows at the current art exhibit, explore the “Ruin,” picnic on the grounds, and enjoy the History and Nature Trail.
Please note that restrooms are unavailable when the Store is closed.
Illustrations by Daniel Renner
Kratzer Brothers Mercantile / The Volland Store | Built in 1913, the mercantile ran continuously until 1971 when Otto Kratzer died. In 2015, following significant renovations, it reopened as The Volland Store| A Place for Art and Community. It now hosts art exhibits, music concerts, horse shows, vintage motorcycle shows, talks by artists, and many community gatherings.
The Blacksmith Shop | First located by the railroad tracks, it was later moved to be closer to the Store.
Today the Blacksmith Shop is a gathering place for lunch, an art workshop/studio, or a backdrop for musicians entertaining an audience in the picnic grove.
The Ice House Garden | Sitting atop the location of the original Icehouse, the garden walls are formed from the stones that once lined the deep pit where ice was stored. Men cut ice from frozen creeks and brought it here before delivering it to surrounding ranches where it was stored in root cellars and covered with straw to serve as refrigeration.
Across Volland Road –
Original Kratzer Brothers Mercantile and the former location of the Train Depot and Stockyards | Built in 1892, established as Kratzer Brothers Mercantile in 1905, the mercantile served rail traffic, section crews, cowboys, and the families of surrounding ranches. The train depot and stockyards were next to and behind the store. Cattle shipping was a major driver of the economy.
Photos by Otto Kratzer. Re-photography by Tom Parish.
During the railroad’s development in the 1880s, builders added a station between Alma and Alta Vista, one of the steepest inclines in Kansas. A nearby creek (Mill Creek) refilled steam engines, and the stop became Volland. Passenger service was offered through 1942, cattle shipping continued until 1962 (when trucking became the preferred method to ship cattle), and mail delivery served Volland until 1955. It was a lively place in the first half of the twentieth century, and Otto Kratzer, Storekeeper, documented it with his photographs for many years. Thousands of his photos are archived in the Wabaunsee County Historical Society and Museum in Alma, Kansas.
Volland Road is full of cowboys, horses, and dust. Hear the whistle of the train as it slows to a stop. Cattle stream out of boxcars, and cowboys drive them away to lush pastures of native grass. They grow fat and are brought back to Volland to be shipped off to Kansas City. In the meantime, section crews maintain the tracks, passengers arrive or pass through, mail and supplies are delivered – bricks, shoes, houses, and oysters – everything that can be ordered from a catalog – or that Otto Kratzer wants to serve at a holiday dinner in his family’s second floor residence in the Store. Families gather here on Thursday nights to shop and gossip and on Sunday afternoons to visit and play. The school bus stops by after school. The school board meets at the Store. It is the social and cultural center of the community.
“The Ruin” of the Kratzer House | From here you can see the original Kratzer Brothers Mercantile (the little white store across Volland Road), the present-day Volland Store, train tracks, and the former site of the Train Depot and Cattle Pens (long gone) that sat near the original mercantile.
Look beyond tracks to the top of the hill. Volland is spelled in limestone rocks, indicating the town the train was passing through. It is most visible after prescribed Spring burning.
Before it was a “Ruin”
The Kratzer house caught fire in 1929 from cinders of a train’s steam engine and burned to the ground. Otto Kratzer and his family moved to the top floor of the Volland Store. The remains of the house are the “Ruin” today.
Enjoy this delightful film, produced by Greg Hoots with a grant from Humanities Kansas, for the Grand Opening of The Volland Store in June 2015.
Follow the sign
to the The Trail Through the West Draw
Walk the trail at your own risk.
-Venomous snakes and poison ivy
-When windy or rainy do not enter the West Draw
-Dogs need to be on a leash
Entrance to the Nature Trail | A sculpture by Mark McHenry points toward the entrance to the trail. Created from wood and iron artifacts of railroad tracks, the piece fits beautifully into the context of Volland and its origins. McHenry generously gifted this sculpture to The Volland Foundation in July 2022. We are most grateful, Mark. Thank you.
On the Nature Trail | Sculpture by Mark McHenry. Cottonwood limestone from Chase County, wood from a Kansas walnut tree, and a bit of Manila line make a strong statement that refers to land and industry, agriculture, and productivity. Mark McHenry gifted this sculpture to The Volland Foundation in September 2022. Thank you, Mark, for this most generous gift.
Seasonal Creek | The area’s watershed flows through this draw to West Branch of Mill Creek (just across the railroad tracks). The stream is seasonal, usually running dry in the summertime. Native trees are found near waterways in the Flint Hills, and the trees lining this streamed are Black Walnut, Hackberry, and Buckeye. Look for the giant Hackberry tree.
Emerging from the Draw onto the Prairie | The brome field is on your right (to the south). A non-native perennial grass, brome is cut and baled in June, for storage until wintertime to feed cattle. Native Tallgrass Prairie is on the left (to the north). The original prairie has not been touched by the plow. Native species include wildflowers, native prairie grasses, and sedges. At each stop on your walk, scan the landscape to see what you can see.
The Trail ends at the Corral with a view toward…..Volland Re-Imagined
The Volland Residency Program offers artists, scientists, and humanitarians time and space in the little houses of Volland where they can enjoy nature, live simply, be inspired, and engage with the local community.
The guest houses provide lodging for Visiting Artists, Self-directed Residencies, and AirBnB guests, subject to availability.
The Little House | A “kit house” from the 1920s. In 2019 the Design+Make studio of architecture students at K-State redesigned the house for the Residency Program at Volland.
More information on the Loft and the Little House.
“Otto’s House” | Originally located just south of the Old Kratzer Store. It was moved there (dragged by horses) from the neighboring Fix Ranch to be the home of the new bride of a previous owner. Mr. Fix wanted his daughter to have a “real house,” not the lean-to addition of the store. Later it became home to Bill and Otto Kratzer when they moved to Volland in 1905 to establish their mercantile. Eventually it was moved to its present location, and after refurbishing, it will become an art studio for the Volland residency program.
Visit the Happenings page for latest information on activities at Volland.