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HPPR People & Communities

Montezuma, Kansas: A Quirky Rural Treasure

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Andrew Whitaker
/
Hutchinson News

Huddled out on the Kansas plains, 25 miles west of Dodge City, you’ll find a town named for an ancient ruler of the Aztec empire. In fact, the main street in Montezuma is even called “Aztec.” The Hutchinson News recently profiled the town, which is a wonderful example of how rural communities can not only survive in today’s heartland—they can thrive. The town is a treasure trove of unexpected places and quirky characters.

There’s Kyle Nance’s barn, where guests eat at a table where people were once prepared for burial. Over the table hangs a bright light from the operating room of the old Meade Hospital.

At the Coffee Connection, students gather after school and devour homemade cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. “The coffee shop is a nonprofit,” ownetr Laura Loewen said. “We wanted a safe place for kids to hang out.”

3,000 people a year visit Montezuma’s Stauth Memorial Museum, which represents the silhouette of a farmstead. The unique building has rounded shapes and a copper roof. The space houses traveling exhibits from around the world, and there’s a room where people can play cards.

Montezuma is also the home of Jim Frank, known as “Jungle Jim” because up until a few years ago he swung from a rope in his backyard. Jim removes “things people don’t want to deal with – such as skunks, snakes, trees.” He doesn’t kill them, though. Often, he lives with them. Jim currently shares his home with his wife, cats, and a 4-foot salmon rainbow boa constrictor.