If you arrive before the sun on Easter morning, you won't find the citizens of Alton asleep. Instead, they will be participating in one of their annual events, the Alton Easter pageant of Passion Week. You don't want to miss this great event, but if you do, the Independence Day Celebration offers the same community spirit, with home-made pie and ice cream and activities for all ages. You can also catch the community in action at the Alton Summer Jubilee, the fourth Saturday of August. Activities include a parade, bike rides, contests, games, music-in-the-park displays, local cuisine, community theater performances, and much more.
GeographyA Rainbow of Colors
Upon arriving from the east, early settlers to Alton found a picturesque landscape created from the lush river valley and dominating limestone bluffs. As agriculture increased, more color blended into the area, including golden wheat and orange-red milo in the summer. The combination of these colors creates a rich tapestry of colors.
HistoryTwo Birthdays, Two Names
Bull City or Earlsville? This was the question the early founders of the community had to answer after settling in the area in 1870. Hiram C. Bull and Lyman T. Earl met in Cawker
City and after traveling 25 miles to the west, they found an area in a bend of the South Fork Solomon River that they deemed would be profitable to settle. They flipped a coin to determine the town's name. Bull won; naming the land Bull City. It was later, after the death of Bull, that the establishment was renamed Alton, citing it was "more proper" than Bull City. It was because of this renaming that Alton has celebrated two centennials, one in 1970 and the other in 1985.
CommerceFrom Wheat Harvest to Wheat-Weaving
From a harvested crop to a decorative craft, Alton commerce offers a variety of products from the same resource. The Midway Co-op in Alton is one of the largest grain-receiving storage facilities in the area. A walk further down Main Street shows that same product being displayed at the Alton Craft Basket. Held each November and December in the restored Farmers State Bank community room, it is a time in which local crafters can display their wares in a cooperative effort. One must not forget Hartzler's Hardware Store, located on Main Street. The store has long served as the local buy-anything, supply-anything store, with many treasures to be found within its walls.
ArchitectureFrom the Bluffs to the Buildings
Symbols of strength and prestige, many of the buildings you will find
in the Alton community are built from the limestone quarried directly from the local bluffs. The 1886 International Odd Fellows Lodge building has been listed on both the National and Kansas Registers of Historic Places, and is the future home of the Osborne County Hall of Fame Museum & Archives. Across the street in the old Farmers State Bank is the community room, used by the townspeople for various functions.
ArtLet's Use What We Have!
The importance of "using what they had" is the motif for the significant pieces of art displayed in the community. In the City Park, you can find a one-of-a-kind trellis, constructed of old implement wheels. Also located in the downtown area is the Alton fire bell, greeting visitors to the Centennial Park. Art comes in many forms, as the citizens of Alton proudly exemplify when the Bull City Opry performs. This community theater group, which performs both Original and scripted productions, also entertains every year at the Alton Jubilee.
PeopleMany Backgrounds, One Community
The collaborative spirit in Alton can be easily viewed looking at the rich cultural history of the people of this community. The Quakers and their pioneering spirit settled in the area in 1872 and were later joined by the Czechs. Both of these groups were seeking new landscapes
and readily available farmland. Some notable names from the community include Jonathan and Sarah Post. These early settlers developed Postum, the first product of the Post Cereal Company.
Russell Stover, maker of Russell Stover chocolate candy, was born south of Alton in 1888. Bruce Goff, an internationally known and respected professional in the architectural world, was born in Alton in 1904. He was known for his creative use of nearby materials and futuristic structures. These individuals and their combined heritage have left Alton with a rich and diverse population.
Everett Stephen Gouldie was born near Lebanon, Kansas, in 1914. In 1950 he began teaching at Alton, where for 17 years he coached the high school football team, including a then state record 51-game winning streak from 1962 into 1968. He also coached the school basketball team to several highly ranked seasons. In 1987 Everett was inducted into the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
CuisineThree Great Events, Three Excuses to Eat!
Whether it's early spring, late fall, or early winter, come to Alton and enjoy a community celebration, always featuring food! On the second Saturday of December the Alton Chocolate Festival honors the chocolate-giant Russell Stover, an Alton native. In October the Alton United Methodist Church hosts a dinner
to celebrate the harvest, and the annual Easter Breakfast is served after the Sunrise Pageant. If you're hungry, let your taste buds lead you to Alton!
· Kansas Sampler Foundation, Eight Rural Elements
· Hiram C. Bull's General Store that also served as Alton's first Post Office. Photo taken in about 1878
· The annual Alton Easter Sunrise Service has long been a popular event held at the Alton Bluffs located a mile south of the town.
· Local performers entice folks to come to the evening performance of the Bull City Opry during the annual Alton Jubliee Parade, one of the largest parades in northern Kansas.