Trail Days Cafe and Museum serves travelers a taste of history

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. (WIBW) - Right along the Sante Fe trail – in an unsuspecting home in Council Grove, Ken and Shirley McClintock are giving people a taste of history.

“This place is one of a kind, nothing like it in America. And Ken and I are kind a like that, we’re kind a one of a kind,” Shirley said.

“And I will say you have stepped into a museum, and we’re a museum of food.”

Everything on the menu here is carefully researched – made with ingredients available in the 19th century.

But the food is only part of the story – the home itself was built in 1860.

“We were the last house leaving Council Grove as late as 1863. So they came right by the front, if you would’ve sat here on the front porch in the fall of 1866, you could’ve watched the last wagon trail come through Council Grove,” Ken said.

Ken is the historian.

“I just collect puzzle pieces of history and I just put ‘em together,” he said.

Shirley’s the head of the project – but she won’t tell you that.

“Someone mentioned to me that this was my project and I thought, ‘Oh no, no, I wouldn’t do this if it was my project.’ … If it’s God’s project, I’ll do it. If he’s behind it, I’ll believe in it,” she said.

Ken and Shirley fell in love with the historic home in 1996

“I thought, ‘My goodness. What secrets and what history does this place hold?’” Shirley said.

But it was a wreck back then – set for demolition.

“I didn’t want to do it. We had re-done our house which is 1874 and I knew how much work it was and I really didn’t want to get involved in something like that again. But I could see this house was in danger of being destroyed,” Shirley said.

They stepped in and took over the property – but the cost of renovations quickly drained them.

And so I said, ‘Okay God, if you want this saved what’s next?’ And someone had said to me what you need is someone to leave you an inheritance. And I thought, ‘Oh sure, like that’s ever gonna happen.’ Well, that did happen,” she said.

With new affirmation – the project continued on… but renovations came with another cost – a property tax spike of nearly $3,000.

“I said, ‘Okay God, if this is your project, you’re gonna have to show me that it’s yours and not mine,’”
Shirley said.

It happened again – another divine miracle in the form of a $5,000 donation.

“And I said okay Lord you spoke to me and you rescued us. It’s your project,” Shirley said.

Now over two decades later – the museum and cafe is spotless, the building carefully reconstructed to look as it would a century ago.