The historic Rogler ranch near Matfield Green, Pioneer Bluffs is becoming home to Flint Hills ranching heritage.
“It will be the only nonprofit in the Midwest dedicated exclusively to ranching heritage,” according to Chase County resident Denise Fetrow, Pioneer Bluffs board president.
“We think it is important to honor the legacy of the ranching families who settled the Flint Hills,” she said.
“Where would be a better location than the 150-year ranching legacy left by the Rogler family in the heart of the Flint Hills?” she wondered.
“Our mission to preserve that ranching heritage will be announced at the Pioneer Bluffs Fall Roundup on Saturday, Oct. 6.” Fetrow said.
It’s that time of year when fall season cattle are shipped and calves are weaned as the traditional fall roundups occur. “Therefore, this year we’re having a Fall Roundup at Pioneer Bluffs, too, and everybody is invited to the celebration,” Fetrow said
“Join us at 2 o’ clock throughout the afternoon into early evening,” welcomed Lynn Smith, Pioneer Bluffs executive director. “There will be longhorn cattle, horses, cowboy stories from real cowboys, food, music, and activities for the entire family.”
A panel of ranchers will discuss the cycle of ranching and its importance in the Flint Hills. Author, historian, cowboy, and Pioneer Bluffs founding board member Jim Hoy will lead the opening discussion at 2 o’clock in the 1915 barn.
“More than a million head of stocker cattle come into the Flint Hills each year to put on weight,” Hoy said. “Those visitors join more than 150,000 cows that are permanent residents of the native prairie.”
“The Davis Ranch, the Z Bar Story” is a study of historic photographs, giving insight to one of the most famed ranches in Kansas history. Author and historian Greg Hoots, who curates this exhibit in the 1908 home at Pioneer Bluffs, will speak about the Z Bar at 3:30.
Josh and Gwen Hoy of the Flying W Ranch at Cedar Point will share cowboy stories throughout the afternoon from a 1880s chuck wagon. “Their cattle and horses will be on display nearby,” Smith added.
Russell Martin will demonstrate blacksmithing and his art creations also will be on exhibit. “Russell is the featured Prairie Pastimes artist in the historic home at Pioneer Bluffs,” Smith noted.
Angela Muller’s exhibit inspired by the grasslands, “Art of the Prairie,” will also be in the 1908 home.
“Music has always been important on a ranch, and the tradition continues at Pioneer Bluffs,” the enthusiastic director proclaimed.
The Tom Page Trio performs at 3 o’clock, Flint Hills Balladeer Annie Wilson and Jim Versch at 4:30, and cowboy singer Jeff Davidson at 6 o’clock.
There will be new ranching exhibits and educational booths to view. Additional family activities featured throughout the day are to include craft demonstrations, horseshoes, disc golf, and junior wrangler games.
At 5:30, will be the dedication of Pioneer Bluffs as a center of Flint Hills ranching heritage, Fetrow said.
The Rogler ranch sold at auction in 2006 and became a nonprofit education center. “For the first decade, goals centered on building improvements, including renovation of the 1916 granary and restoration of the 1915 barn to serve as a unique event center for community events,” Smith said.
“As the nonprofit focuses on ranching heritage, a grant from the Trusler Foundation of Emporia has funded educational exhibits,” she said. Two will be dedicated during the day, and visitors will have an opportunity to browse ranching stories and photos.
“In the coming year, additional exhibits will be installed, including the story of a granary, and the year-round cycle of ranching will be added,” Smith informed.
“Changes to our programs will be subtle,” Smith continued. “Our signature events, Prairie Talks, music performances, food experiences, and youth field trips, will continue because they share the human story of ranching.
“Pioneer Bluffs will collaborate with other organizations to provide hands-on ranching experiences,” Smith pointed out.
“Ranching in the Flint Hills has changed since the early settlers arrived in the 1850s. It is important to document those developments and note their influence on today’s ranching practices,” Hoy said.
“We aim to highlight these differences and changes that make the Flint Hills unique through exhibits, programs, events, and symposiums,” Hoy continued. “We invite ranchers, locals, schools, and visitors seeking a Flint Hills experience to come along with us as we journey through time, and join us as we explore contemporary ranching issues.”
Pioneer Bluffs, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located one-mile north of Matfield Green or 14 miles south of Cottonwood Falls on Flint Hills National Scenic Byway K-177.
“There is no charge for this community event, but food will be available for purchase,” Smith said.