Family Adventures · Kansas · Museums and History

The Mansion, Smoky Valley, Greyhound, & the Rose Garden: A Story of Abilene, Kansas

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One of many murals you’ll find here in Abilene. I think we found another Kansas town to have a citywide scavenger hunt!

Abilene, KS: Dickinson County

Never underestimate the magnitude of history that many of America’s small towns have. Pair that with incredible murals, public gardens, railroad tour, a one of a kind hall of fame, and Midwest kindness; and you get Abilene, Kansas. We’ve covered the local food scene and the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in earlier posts and now we bring you to more of Abilene’s beautiful and historical attractions.

*We had the pleasure to be hosted by the Abilene CVB on this amazing gallivant. Some of the admission fees were complimentary and the views expressed are of our own. Let’s gallivant!

The Seelye Mansion

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One of the most iconic homes in the West. The Seelye Mansion is Kansas history now and always.

“Come into my home and take a tour”. How many times have you heard that? Terry Tietjens is the owner of this Abilene mansion and the storytelling that comes from him and the staff that assists with tours will be one of the greatest strolls through history you’ll ever take. Make no mistake though. The Seelye Mansion is still a precious home for Terry and he couldn’t be more happy to have you as a guest. The pictures below show you how much the mansion has stayed the same since its original owners moved here in the early 1900s.

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Terry demonstrating the table service and unbelievable worth of the setting.
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A Tiffany fireplace. I never knew that that this famous company had designs for fireplaces and I needed to travel to Abilene to see it.
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Bowling fans will love this one! This will be one of the rarest and priceless pieces in the entire mansion and Terry still loves to hear his guest respectfully enjoying it. Look below!
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Gigi rolling for the win! A look into home entertainment from 1905 that Terry has been offered BIG MONEY for. It’s staying right where it is.
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Nutcracker collectors unite! There are hundreds of these throughout the whole mansion. We may just need to return and see this mansion during Christmas now!
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Another reminder that this is a mansion and museum. This has been retired for daily use but it kept folks fed well into the 20th century.
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Why did we ever get away from this system! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want this in your kitchen right now.
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The staff of the Seelye kept the communication going through these phones positioned all over the mansion.
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Welcome to the top floor ballroom! Imagine what the decor would talk about if it could describe the gatherings in this room.
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Terry and his late twin brother, Jerry, took on the preservation for this mansion while the elderly Seelye sisters still resided here. Jerry and Terry referred to the sisters as their adoptive grandmothers.
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Meet the Seelyes. Their impact on Abilene and Kansas lives on, and will live on for generations to come.

Terry refers to himself as an old farm boy and you can still see it in him through his attitude and storytelling. You may be in an iconic and luxurious mansion, but Terry makes you feel like a longtime family guest. This is a natural skill to many in Kansas, with Terry and company having this ability mastered. Every turn is another look in the past with the endless care of protecting it. There’s more to Terry’s talents and you literally hear it when he’s showing you around his home.

Eisenhower Park & Rose Garden

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Drive through the neighborhoods of Abilene and discover this work of pure natural art.
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Sometimes its better to show someone flowers rather than just giving them a bouquet. Abilene can provide that.

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We like to take many breaks on The Iowa Gallivant and this is one the best ways to do it. Find yourself in the peaceful comfort of the Eisenhower Park & Rose Garden. Many times we see a piece of private property and compliment what they have arranged from afar. Take the opportunities to walk through paths like this in public parks when offered. The Abilene community is very proud of this garden and keeps it in immaculate condition for the locals and visitors. I find myself appreciating these areas more and more as I get older because I know how much hard work goes into the upkeep. And it’s all done for the public to enjoy and find peace when they do so.

Greyhound Hall of Fame & Museum

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Near the business center of Abilene is one of the most unique hall of fame experiences and you’ll see why.
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They have some of the best greeters in Kansas, and they love visitors.
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This was all I needed to hear when I was told of the Greyhound Hall of Fame. The answer will always be yes when it comes to making a stop to pet a dog.
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Plaques of the racing greats tell the story of this sport.
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Do as the Romans do here in Abilene.

This is without a doubt what we would call niche traveling. Many come to Abilene to specifically see the Greyhound Hall of Fame Museum and tell their own stories of racing, owning greyhounds, and to see pictures of old friends in the industry. I’ve always been a sucker for any kind of local museum, so this was going to happen even though I’ve never set foot in a dog track before. I have set my foot in plenty of….never mind. Once again we were reminded of the dedication the Abilene citizens have all over this town. Keeping any facility running is never an easy task and they are making it happen. It helps to have a couple of the kindest greyhounds on Earth excited to see you when entering.

Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad

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Get ready for another trip into the early days of Abilene!
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Get your ticket and climb aboard this tour of the Abilene area countryside.
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One of main arteries of Kansas. The mighty Smoky River!
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Enjoy the scenery and take advantage of the beautiful weather whenever you can. Best to do it on a train ride if you ask me!
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Your destination is the Hoffman Grist Mill in nearby Enterprise.
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The grains aren’t going to grind themselves! Get to work, everyone!
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Fresh Kansas bread can be baked anywhere with help from the Hoffman Grist Mill’s gift shop.

Did I mention we like to take breaks while traveling? Here’s another one! This time, we choo-chooed through Dickinson’s rural landscapes on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad, one of the best ways to get outdoors and see Kansas in a relaxing and scenic way. The volunteers keep the engine running year after year with the historic depot selling the tickets.

By now you can see just how well this town keeps up with its history. All this and more including what you can see on the Eisenhower Presidential grounds. Take it all in, folks and remember that this is just a sample of what Abilene has to offer. There’s plenty of history out there and it needs all of us to enjoy it and save it.

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We like Ike! Keep the murals going, Abilene!

Like VisitAbilene on Facebook.

Follow on Twitter @VisitAbilene

Follow on Instagram @AbileneKS

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This post is dedicated to the old Bankes Soda Fountain and the generations of employees and Abilene faithful that kept it going. We were lucky enough to have a treat here on it’s last day of business. Thank you for creating another family memory right up to the very end.

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