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La Cygne Historical Society to create power plant exhibit

The construction and lasting impact of the La Cygne Generating Station will be the focus of an exhibit at the La Cygne Historical Society that is receiving support from Humanities Kansas. (Journal file photo)

TOPEKA – The construction of the La Cygne Generating Station in the 1970s was a landmark event for Linn County and the La Cygne area in particular. In addition to becoming a utility that has contributed tax dollars to the county, Lincoln Township and the Prairie View school district, the generating station drew scores of workers and their families who made Linn County home.

Humanities Kansas recently awarded $3,420 to the La Cygne Historical Society to support “Oh My, What a Change!,” an exhibit and archival preservation project that will explore the changes in Linn County following construction of the Kansas City Power & Light generating station. Janet Reynolds serves as project director.

“La Cygne was a small agricultural community when Kansas City Power & Light built a generating station and dramatically changed the landscape and community,” according to a news release from Humanities Kansas. “Through an exhibit and archival preservation, this project will explore the good—such as new jobs, a library, and parks—along with the challenges that industry brought to the town.”

“The humanities can help us engage with the complexities of our time,” shared Julie Mulvihill, Humanities Kansas Executive Director. “This exhibit and archive project will help us imagine the future we can create together.”

The grant to the historical society is just one of eight awards across the state. One of the other grantees has an indirect connection to the La Cygne project.

The Osage County Historical Society will receive just over $3,000 to create “Melvern Lake: Citizens’ Stories,” about the construction of Melvern Lake and dam, which was completed in 1975.

That project “prevented an estimated $220 million in downstream flood damage, but it radically changed Osage County, according to the release. ‘Melvern Lake: Citizens’ Stories’ will explore these changes through a community-wide oral history and photo collection project.”

Melvern Lake and Pomona Lake, both of which are in Osage County, feed the Marais des Cygnes River, which winds its way through Franklin and Miami counties before reaching Linn County and La Cygne. Those lakes store and provide water to La Cygne as well as two rural water districts in Linn County.

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy,” according to the release. “Since 1972, HK's pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights.

"Together with statewide partners and supporters, HK inspires all Kansans to draw on diverse histories, literatures, and cultures to enrich their lives and to serve the communities and state we all proudly call home.”

The Humanities Kansas website link is

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