Kansas : Safety by City
- Cottonwood Falls
- Council Grove
- Dodge City
- Fort Scott
- Garden City
- Great Bend
- Junction City
- La Crosse
- Overland Park
- Prairie Village
I actually tossed and turned last night thinking of the right words to describe Lucas, Kansas.
Sure, it’s more formally known as the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.”
You could also say they “go big” in this small town of barely 300 people.
Here’s the best I came up with – if a circus troupe bedazzled a city and you could only view it through a kaleidoscope, that’s what Lucas looks like.
I also thought it might look like if Tim Burton and Walt Disney had a metaphorical baby.
If you think that sounds crazy, then you haven’t heard of The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions or the World’s Largest Things.
That’s the kind of novelty you’ll find in this central Kansas city.
In fact, it’s so “central” that the center point of North America is just a couple dozen miles up the road.
Every “Roadside America” book will have some of the Lucas attractions in it.
Quite frankly, if one doesn’t, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.
Where else can you roam through a wood and stone version of the Garden of Eden or use a bathroom so elaborate that road trippers will “hold it” for miles just to use it.
When you’re looking for a place to stay here, the maps aren’t going to show you any hotels.
You won’t find chain hotels for at least 30 miles or so.
However, there are cabins, RV lots, and lodges here.
You can also rent most of the places for a week or month.
There’s a slight “Alice in Wonderland” feeling here and that’s just the way it was designed.
Warnings & Dangers in Lucas
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here but you won't find a local police department. The Russell County Sheriff's Office provides law enforcement. That means I can only use data from the entire county. The good news is - the whole country is pretty darn safe too.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You aren't going to find any traditional public transportation and there's a low chance you'll even find a taxi or rideshare. You'll need a car to get in and out of Lucas and explore the region, although the town is walkable or bicyclable.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
No pickpockets or purse snatching happened here in 2020 and it's a rare year that one is even reported. There's a low risk.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You face the same risks as any Kansas town - flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes, dust storms, winter storms, and lightning. There's a medium risk because the weather can be extreme here, but there is no event that the city or state isn't used to.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There have been two robberies since 2010 in Russell County, so you can feel safe there's a low risk. While you should never let your guard down, it's nice to know you are in a safe city surrounded by a safe county.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. Even as I researched the things to do around the area, I lost the city on the map. It's too small and too remote to resonate with any terror group. NOTE: There is a Garden of Isis here, but it's not ISIS. This garden is dedicated to the Goddess Isis, not the terror group named the Islamic State of Iraq.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
I'll admit, some of the attractions sound like scams. However, there is a low risk you'll be scammed here. Many of the attractions are free and the town is small enough that if there was a scammer going around, the townsfolk would know it.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should feel safe traveling freely through Lucas and Russell County. You do want to limit your time in public to daylight hours because there's little light (or things to do) at night.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
I actually wrote this section and had to come back and re-write it to give this a medium risk. This shows the importance of monitoring local websites and social media accounts before you visit a location. In addition to two violations in 2021 from the Water Quality Report, there was a nitrate warning that required all citizens to drink bottled water. Even boiling the water didn't make it safer from the nitrate levels. The violations involved coliform and chlorine and only occurred in September of 2021. Please check with the city before you consume or use any tap water here.
Safest Places to Visit in Lucas
Lucas is Home of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.
For the sake of sanity and my word count, they shorten it to World’s Largest Things Museum.
This is where the largest things in the world have been scaled down dramatically to be shown in and around the museum.
Because I love humor and candor, one example is the world’s largest plow in Nebraska, and there’s a small replica of it in the museum.
“It’s a plow.”
There’s a mini Mount Rushmore, a spinach can, a dinosaur, and so much more.
Every state’s “Largest Thing” is solidly represented here.
On the flip side, you can also see the “World’s Largest Travel Plate”, which is 14′ in diameter.
Heads up – there is a painting of a topless woman, representing the Garden of Eden, on the plate in case anyone finds that offensive.
Another place you really need to “go” is Bowl Plaza.
This is where an elaborate and ornate mosaic bathroom was built, with a mosaic garden leading you to the “throne.”
The Garden of Eden really does feel like walking into a Tim Burton movie, but it’s designed by sculptor S.P. Dinsmoor.
He lived in the house that is in the “garden.”
There is a mix of biblical and societal cultures here.
Miller’s Park is right next door with a rock sculpture garden.
Throughout the city there are several more unique art galleries, gardens, and stores.
Stop by the Grassroots Art Center to get a full list.
By comparison, it’s going to sound pretty boring for me to tell you about Wilson Lake about 10 to 30 minutes south of Lucas (depending on which part of the lake you visit.)
There is part of this lake called Hell Creek, but I cannot find a verified reason why it got that name.
If anyone from the area is reading this, can you comment below about the reason for this name?
There are several hiking trails, park sites, and campgrounds on this wide swath of state land.
You can also drive the Post Rock Scenic Byway, one of many scenic byways in Kansas.
This one is just 20 miles long and starts (or ends) in Lucas.
You’ll see many fences, homes, and sculptures made of limestone here because there are hardly any trees to use as a building material.
Places to Avoid in Lucas
The entire city of Lucas is only a half mile long, so you really couldn’t get out of a bad neighborhood if you needed to, but luckily, you don’t need to here.
One thing to avoid is looking for famous artists other than the ones we’ve mentioned.
There are no Van Goghs or Picassos.
All the art here is made by the people of the city and region.
This is where the “Grassroots” moniker comes from.
While it is the Grassroots Capital of Kansas, I doubt there’s a city this artistic in the Midwest.
You are welcome to take pictures all you want, but don’t touch the delicate mosaics or lean against the sculptures.
Don’t joke about or make fun of a piece of artwork as there’s a good chance the artist is nearby or someone who knows the artist is nearby.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Lucas
- The websites for this region aren’t very robust, so researching the city isn’t easy. The Russell County Sheriff’s Office does have a Facebook page, and I recommend you follow that for updated safety information. The handle is @RussellKSSheriff.
- When you go to the Emergency Management page of the Russell County website, there are a LOT of dead links. I’ve let them know about this, but the links are trying to send you to fema.gov to get basic safety information about weather, civil, and terrorism threats. You can review that on the FEMA website.
- Because of a lack of information on the Emergency Management site, you’ll need to take weather alerts into your own hands. The Wichita television market covers Lucas, so you can download local apps to get weather information or go with a general weather app, such as from The Weather Channel. You just need to make sure you have emergency notifications enabled so you’ll know about approaching storms.
- To fish or hunt in this area, you need separate licenses. The Kansas Department of Wildlife issues the licenses and for hunting you’ll need some additional training before you can get a license. Your home state or city licenses won’t suffice here.
- From time to time, there will be military exercises at Wilson Lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers oversees and manages the lake. I just don’t want you to get freaked out if you see tanks, military command posts, and soldiers with weapons. No live communication is used during these drills. The county sheriff will post information about these drills before they happen.
- Kantravel.org is the best website to monitor road conditions. The site is managed by the Kansas Department of Transportation and includes real-time traffic monitoring, road closures, construction projects, and live cameras of certain roads.
- Follow @CityofLucasKansas to stay up to date on local events and issues. You’ll get information about water conservation efforts and things like mosquito fogging. I’m looking at it as I write this and there have been two water conservation efforts in the past two months due to water main issues and maintenance.
- The winds here can get really intense. Not only can the winds be dangerous due to falling tree limbs and blowing objects, they can also make it challenging to hold a car steady at higher speeds on the highways. There is also the additional risk of wildfires starting and rapidly spreading. Never dismiss a wind advisory or high wind warning.
- Don’t think that because there isn’t a local police department that means there isn’t law enforcement protection. The Russell County Sheriff’s Office still runs campaigns to catch drunk drivers, speeders, and distracted drivers.
- If you need to get safety information from the Sheriff, please call (785)483-2151. The website they have even gives a wrong link to their Facebook page. You just can’t research a lot online here. 911 will still go to the communications center and get you emergency help.
- BONUS TIP: There’s a Facebook group called “Russel County, KS – What’s Happening in the Area.” You can find everything from garage sales to reports of missing wallets to local theater performances.
So... How Safe Is Lucas Really?
Well, I can’t tell you because I don’t have the data.
To make it more challenging, the mayor of Kansas City is named Quinton Lucas, so every variety of search terms I could think of ended up with articles linking back to that area that isn’t near Lucas.
Looking at recent incidents in Russell County, there was a car chase and a head-on collision involving a semi-truck.
After about an hour, I figured it’s not that it’s hard to find crime information, there just isn’t a lot of crime to find.
According to FBI data from 2020, I have the raw data for crimes in Russell County.
It wasn’t even worth doing the math to get the “Per 100,000” as the FBI prefers simple because the crime numbers are so low:
- Murder: 0 (and hasn’t been one going back to at least 2010)
- Rape: 0
- Robbery: 0
- Aggravated Assault: 9 (Four of these assaults were in a jail/prison, and none were against strangers)
- Thefts: 19 (37% of which were car break-ins, so lock up your car when you park)
The weather is the safety point I want to punctuate.
In December of 2021, there were a few weeks of utter weather chaos.
One of those windstorms came through and caused a lot of devastation.
One resident summed it up well.
“I never thought we would go from flood to drought, then taken away by fire, it’s just, it’s devastating.
It’s crazy. It’s sad.
I know God doesn’t give us any more than what we can handle, but it sure feels like a lot right now,” said resident Brynae Thompson.
Prepare for the weather events here as much as you do for personal safety, and you’ll enjoy this eccentric and unique town.
How Does Lucas Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - You'll spend $160 on a travel visa to the U.S. and $190 for a work or school visa. You should start the process several months ahead of time to go through all the steps. Once you get through Customs at the airport, put your visa somewhere safe as you can freely travel through Kansas without having to show it.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency you can use here. There might be places that only take cash, and when you're in a remote area, cash is a good thing to have on hand. You do want to lock it away somewhere safe and don't keep it all in one place. Make sure your bank knows you are traveling because a purchase at The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions or the World's Largest Things might set off some fraud alerts.
- Weather - You should bring clothes you don't mind getting dirty here. Between dusty winds, flooding potential, and outdoor activities, you'll get sweaty and dirty. On a windy day, one of the COVID masks might be very helpful here. I live in a windy state and I keep a stash of masks just for this reason. Bring bug spray for the warmer months and winter outerwear for the cold months.
- Airports - Wichita's airport is about two hours southeast and Topeka's airport is three hours east. Those are the closest options unless you have your own private plane.
- Travel Insurance - You'll definitely want travel insurance for a trip to Lucas. Between flight delays and road condition issues, there's a potential for additional costs along the way.
Lucas Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Kansas - Safety by City