Today, I drove through the Flint Hills of Kansas. I do this often enough that I often forget to appreciate that this section of grassland is rare and beautiful. (In other words, I’m thinking impatiently “Are we there yet?”) The Flint Hills area is one of the few remnants of the vast Tallgrass Prairie that once covered the midsection of North America. Ninety-eight percent of the great Tallgrass Prairie is now gone, plowed under for crops. Tallgrass prairie soil is very fertile, and some parts of the prairie have some of the deepest topsoil ever recorded. The Flint Hills were spared the plow, because the ground is so rocky and hard to cultivate. Part of the Flint Hills is now a national preserve. (See link below.)
On a driving trip in June, my husband and I visited another remnant of Tallgrass Prairie at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa. The restored 81-acre prairie is just north of I-80 in the eastern part of Iowa. Nearby is the grave site of Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou. A block away is Hoover’s birthplace cottage, which is in its original location. There are also several 19th century buildings, including houses, a school, Quaker meeting house and a blacksmith shop.