Thieves have not set back a project at an area landmark. A break-in this week, and theft of several thousand dollars worth of tools and equipment, will not impact the reopening of Coronado Heights.
Within a couple of days, possibly as early as Saturday, the 80-year-old Central Kansas landmark will be open again. The final concrete was poured Wednesday, and Coronado Heights is about to be accessible to the public again.
Smoky Valley Historical Association President Chris Abercrombie told KSAL News improvements that visitors to the castle will enjoy include refurbished floors, and new wood timber on the lower level. On the upper level, the observation deck has been refurbished. Additionally, the entrance ways to the castle have been made accessible, and the restroom facility has been renovated.
Highlighted by the stone castle structure, Coronado Heights Park is a scenic overlook and park on a 300′ promontory a few miles northwest of Lindsborg. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration built a picnic area and castle like building out of Dakota limestone. The winding drive up to the heights is lines with many trees, yucca, and sumac.
The park has grills and fireplaces, including a fireplace in the “castle,” which is otherwise unlighted except for the windows.
As many as 1,200 visitors ascend the winding 3/4-mile road up Coronado Heights each week. People come from all parts of Kansas as well as other states and nations to experience the quiet beauty of the place with its iconic 1936 WPA-built Spanish style castle, its breath-taking vistas of the Smoky Hill River Valley 300 feet below, and the rolling hills to the north and west.
Coronado Heights receives its name from Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who visited central Kansas in 1541, looking for the Native American community of Quivira, where he was told “trees hung with golden bells and … pots and pans were beaten gold.” It’s possible, but cannot be proved, that Coronado and his men actually spent time where the castle is now located.
The project has been funded through a $90,000 state grant, and about $60,000 in donations.
With the completion of the castle project the next project on the agenda is repairing the winding road that leads to the castle. The road was repaired in 2013, but has since been damaged by the elements, especially erosion from water flowing down the hill.