If you Google Marysville, Kansas you will find that it is listed as a city in Marshall County with about 3300 residents. While these statistics seem commonplace, they do little to tell the city’s story. To truly understand the dynamics of this historic town you have to experience it firsthand. Our short jaunt from Kansas City started early so that we would be able to make the most of our time. With only a day and a half to explore, we knew we would be busy. By the end of the second day, we found it easy to fall in love with the warmth and charm of the “Black Squirrel Capital of Kansas”.
We want to thank Visit Marysville and all of the local businesses for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
For us, there is no better way to start a new visit than to get some background on the destination. This meant a visit to the Marshall County Museum, which is located in the historic courthouse building. The beautiful structure makes the perfect home for the museum and they have even preserved the courtroom just like yesteryear. At this stop, we met Dixie, who would be a shining example of the kind spirits that permeate the town. As she led us through a tour of the museum, she shared a collection of stories that showcased why Marysville is so special. Sitting along a major trade and migration route means that the city would play host to travelers for generations.
Back to the Basics
In the mid-1800s, pioneers and prospectors were looking for routes to the west. One of the biggest hurdles that these travelers faced was crossing the rivers that barred their way. One of these is the Big Blue River, which runs to the west of present-day Marysville. Seeing that providing a solution could be a lucrative enterprise, Frank Marshall established a ferry. This crossing was called “Independence Ford”, as a nod to the trail which had its start in Independence, Missouri. We dropped by Historic Trails Park to see the monuments for all of the trails that passed through this region. It also gave us a photo opp at the full-sized replica ferry.
Riding into History
The Pony Express, while short-lived, embodied the wildness of the frontier. Young riders would be charged with riding about 100 miles, while only stopping to quickly change mounts. Once their long stretch was complete, they would arrive at a Home Station, where they would hand off the mail pouch to the next rider. In downtown Marysville, you can still visit one of these stations, that now holds the Pony Express Barn Museum. While it has closed for the balance of the 2020 season, we are hopeful that it will be ready for visitors in 2021.
History on the Move
As you may have noticed, Marysville is tied to transportation of all types. To commemorate this they have added an art installation in downtown. Seeing the Living History Tiles firsthand was definitely high on our list of things to do. Created with an interesting technique, these art installations simulated movement when the viewer passes along them. We tried to capture the essence of it on video, but you really need to see them for yourself.
Life on the Plains
During the research phase of our Marysville visit, we found a site that has been called “the Most Beautiful House in Kansas”. Now, this certainly piqued our interest, and we had to see it for ourselves. A stop at the Koester House Museum would satisfy our curiosity and prove to be an amazing sight. Not only is this 1875 home in immaculate condition, but it is still furnished with the original owner’s belongings. It almost felt like we had dropped by while the family was out for the day. We hope you get John as a tour guide, as he imparts his own twists on the story of this landmark.
Fueling Our Passion
We couldn’t go far without stopping to refuel. Marysville has plenty of good dining options and a lot of them are within easy walking distance of the downtown corridor. This makes a visit to town convenient, as well as delicious. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are readily available and we found some really nice choices. Perhaps you will want to select one of the spots we sampled (You can see them all here.) or head out on your own to explore one of the other options. No matter your preference, you are sure to find some tasty bites and a welcoming spirit all around town.
Does your town have its own mascot? Marysville does and it was one of the things that grabbed our attention. During our research, we noted that the town is nicknamed “The Black Squirrel Capital of Kansas”. Now we have seen lots of gray squirrels and even quite a few of the red variety. On occasion we have even spotted a white tree-hugger, but we had never seen a black one. While it was not the driving force for a visit to Marysville, the idea of spotting one of these elusive creatures was on our “to do” list once we arrived. You can bet that we made sure we had some black squirrel sightings during our visit. Speaking with locals, it was obvious that it is easy to fall in love with black squirrel watching.
The invention of big-box stores has made a huge impact on the Mom & Pop boutiques across America. While the ability to get everything in one place is tempting, we still enjoy meandering through locally owned stores. In many of the smaller cities these types of businesses have really been hit hard. We were happy to see that the downtown heart of Marysville has a nice variety of these stores available. You can bet that we took home some fabulous finds from the local shops. After all, each time we use one of the pieces we found it will remind us of our visit to Marysville, Kansas.
Fall in Love Lodging
The kind of visit we do can wear us out. Once we hit the town, it feels like we are moving non-stop. Fortunately, there are some great options to rest up in Marysville. Our connection at the tourism bureau hooked us up with this charming choice just a block from the city park. Trailhead Suites is a newer option that pays homage to the local history. Located in a quiet neighborhood, it proved to be just what we needed to refresh before another day of exploring.
Fall in Love with Marysville
As you have probably noticed, we had a “fall in love” time in Marysville, Kansas. It always seems to amaze us at how fun and friendly our visits are in these smaller sized cities. The residents are always eager to welcome guests into their town and truly enjoy showcasing their hometown’s features. This makes for a win-win scenario, as the city gets the added tourism and the traveler gets a wonderful experience. We are betting that if you try a few of these types of destinations, you will also become an advocate for them. What are some of your favorite small cities?
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