-open every day dawn to dusk-
On the Volland Trail, you will find history, nature, and sculpture-
Bring a picnic, your kids, friends, family-
Enjoy the fresh air and the Flint Hills. Take a walk around Volland. The history is everywhere.
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.
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, Nature, and Sculpture Trail.
Please note that restrooms are unavailable when the Store is closed.
Illustrations by Daniel Renner
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.
Otto Kratzer, one of the original Storekeepers of Kratzer Brothers Mercantile
Kratzer Brothers Mercantile / The Volland Store | Built in 1913, the mercantile operated 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.
Left to right: “Blacksmith Shop, Volland, Kansas” (detail) by Otto Kratzer; Blacksmith shop with a photo by Deanna Dikeman from her solo exhibit at the Volland Gallery, “Leaving and Waving” Spring 2022.
Today the Blacksmith Shop is a gathering place for lunch, an art workshop/studio, a backdrop for musicians entertaining an audience in the picnic grove, or an art installation.
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.
Otto Kratzer built a home in 1917 for his wife and and two sons close to the railroad tracks. The house caught fire in 1929 from cinders of a train’s steam engine that was idling nearby. The home burned to the ground, leaving the stone foundation as a memory, a “ruin.” Otto and his family moved to the top floor of the Volland Store where they remained the rest of their lives.
“The Ruin”| From here you can see the original Kratzer Brothers Mercantile (the 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.
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.
Across Volland Road –
Original Kratzer Brothers Mercantile and the former location of the Train Depot and Stockyards | The little white store across the road was built in 1892 and operated by various merchants until Bill and Otto Kratzer moved to Volland and established it as Kratzer Brothers Mercantile. 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.
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.
Note: In 2022 “The Ruin” was re-imagined as an outdoor performance venue for theatre and music. “Heart/Roots: Wabaunsee County,” an original play based on stories old and new of Wabaunsee County, acted by local actors, written by Mary Pinard, and directed by Beth Wynstra (professors and colleagues at Babson College in Boston) opened on June 17 and 18 to sold-out crowds and rave reviews.
More information here.
Photo by Maddy Michaelis
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 mowed path
to the The Trail Through the West Draw
click below for
The Trail ends at the Horse Arena with a view toward…..
next steps into the future-
The Volland Residency Program offers artists, scientists, and humanitarians time and space in Volland, where they can enjoy nature, live simply, be inspired, and engage with the local community.
The lodging for Artist Residents, Visiting Artists and Self-directed Residencies, are also available to the public through AirBnB, subject to availability.
On the second level of The Volland Store is a place to read, write, dream, converse, cook a simple meal, listen to good music, and enjoy friends. The light-filled space overlooks the surrounding Flint Hills as well as the gallery below. It is a perfect place from which to explore the beauty of the Flint Hills, retreat from your everyday life, and refresh your soul.
A “kit house” from the 1920s was redesigned in 2019 by the Design+Make studio of 5th-year architecture students at Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State for the residency program at Volland. In 2020 the American Institute of Architects Kansas City presented the Little House with a Merit Award in the Architecture category. In 2022, the Chicago Athenaeum honored the students and El Dorado Architects with an American Architecture Award for Design Excellence (Honorable Mention) for the Little House, from a pool of more than 400 international candidates.
Next: the Studio House, formerly “the Fix/Cromer House” or “Otto’s House”
The house was 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 the current storekeeper. 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.
A naming opportunity is available.
Please inquire here
Visit the Happenings page for latest information on activities at Volland.